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Sun February 28 2021

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Employee trust takes over Horizon Platforms

3 Feb Powered access hire company Horizon Platforms is now under the ownership of its employees.

Founders Ben Hirst and Rory Duggan
Founders Ben Hirst and Rory Duggan

Ben Hirst and Rory Duggan, who set up Horizon Platforms in Normanton, West Yorkshire in 2008, have sold their business to an employee ownership trust (EOT) for an undisclosed sum.

Selling to an EOT, owned by all 72 employees equally, means that they do not have to pay capital gains tax.

Ben Hirst and Rory Duggan, both in the forties, will continue to manage the business as chief executive and strategic account director respectively.

Ben Hirst said: “This is the proudest moment of my career. Transferring ownership into the hands of our employees offers this organisation the opportunity to live on, and truly become what I have always strived to achieve, a business built for our grandchildren.

“Becoming employee owned is about maintaining and building on the unique Horizon culture. The business and its employees have a real family ethos and so personally, I want to be a part of what I expect to be the most exciting phase of Horizon’s journey yet.”

He said: “Myself and Lucy Normanton, director of people & internal communications, spoke to many businesses who had transitioned to an EOT, giving us valuable feedback and advice on their own experiences. There was an overwhelming sense that it had been the best choice for all the businesses we spoke to and therefore cemented our own decision to move forward in this way.”

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Rory Duggan added: “I truly believe that we have built a very special company and one that is only at the beginning of its journey. We believe that now is precisely the time to transition ownership to our team as we approach our next phase of growth, but in true Horizon style, we are daring to be different.

“After 14 years of trading, our main focus remains the same, to make our customers happy and keep them returning to us. Customers want clarity, reassurance and peace of mind when their people are working at height, and our whole organisation is focused on delivering just that.”

The most recent published accounts of Horizon Platforms show that it made a pre-tax profit of £268,000 in 2019 on turnover of £13.3m.

Other companies that have been sold, either wholly or partially, to employee ownership trusts since the abolition of CGT on such transactions include McGee Group, Triton Construction and Tonic Construction.

Horizon senior leadership team (left to right) Tom Matthews, David Webster, Ben Hirst, Lucy Normanton, Rory Duggan, Marco Maccio and Adrian Bleasdale
Horizon senior leadership team (left to right) Tom Matthews, David Webster, Ben Hirst, Lucy Normanton, Rory Duggan, Marco Maccio and Adrian Bleasdale

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