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Digital entrepreneurs embrace employee ownership

Husband and wife entrepreneurs Gary Parlett and Kate Parlett MBE have turned down an eight-figure offer from venture capitalists for their digital transformation and IT consultancy in favour of an employee ownership model.

The Parletts founded Answer Digital (originally called the Ultimate People Company) 21 years ago. Since then, it has grown to become a successful company with projected revenues of £9 million this year and offices in Leeds and London.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, will be funded by the business and gives all 85 members of staff a stake in Answer Digital through an employee ownership trust that has a direct say in how the business is run.

The Parletts will continue in their roles, with senior members of the team, Richard Pugmire, Nigel Garner and Richard Ellis, joining the board of the trust.

Technology advisor Finbarr Joy, who worked at Answer Digital 20 years ago before taking up senior technology roles at BT, William Hill and other blue-chip companies, has re-joined the business as a non-executive director.

Gary Parlett, Managing Director of Answer Digital, believes that an employee-ownership model gives staff the freedom to do great work.

He said: “Typically, employee-owned businesses have higher productivity, greater levels of innovation and are more resilient to economic headwinds. The people that work in them are often more engaged, happier in their jobs and less stressed. We are passionate that this is the best route for our business to continue to grow and deliver award-winning solutions.”

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2018