Construction News

Sun September 26 2021

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Belfast architects hand ownership to employees

1 Sep The owners of the Belfast-based White Ink Architects have sold their entire shareholding to an employee ownership trust.

White Ink employees
White Ink employees

White Ink Architects is the first wholly Northern Ireland based consultancy to make the move to employee ownership through an employee ownership trust (EOT).

The decision, say the three founders, will preserve the independent spirit of the practice, which was incorporated in 2005. 

The EOT will manage 100% of the company shares on behalf of all 32 employees.

By opting to sell to an EOT, founder directors Joan McCoy, Claude Maguire and Sean Tunney – all in their early 50s – realise the value of their business without having to pay capital gains tax.

Joan McCoy said: “We believe that employee ownership heralds the start of a vibrant new chapter in the White Ink story. Our team now have a mammoth incentive to continue to drive forward the performance of the practice, helping our clients and improving lives through the buildings we create. This is going to benefit clients who, under the leadership of the existing directors, have a team of employee owners more connected to their success than ever before.”

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Claude Maguire said: “The new ownership structure removes barriers to succession, ensuring that the choice of future leaders will be determined solely on talent, ability and the drive to deliver White Ink’s vision.”

White Ink Architects turnover in 2020 reached £2,419,097, a 2.7% increase on 2019, despite the challenges of lockdown between March and July. The company is targeting a 10% increase for 2022.

White Ink projects include the £50m Brentford Lock West Phase and projects for Hilton Hotel and Taylor Wimpey London.

Sean Tunney added: “Remote working during the pandemic reinforced that it’s possible to compete in the UK marketplace regardless of location. A key driver for our staff is the excitement of working on multi-million projects in London and beyond, whilst enjoying the benefits of living in Northern Ireland.”

As part of the transition, Claire McAteer, Pearse McCann and Shane McCrory have been promoted to associates to strengthen the management team.

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