Birketts celebrates employee trust ownership milestone for specialist wholesaler

21 June 2021

In 2017, top 100 law firm Birketts, assisted the co-owners of Peregrine Livefoods Ltd (Peregrine), Europe’s largest specialist wholesaler within the reptile sector, in transitioning the business to an employee ownership model. In just four short years, the company has paid off its founders to become an independent employee-owned business.

Founded in 1987 by co-owners Tim Green and Dave Perry, Essex-based Peregrine flourished, engaging 170 employees to help supply equipment, frozen foods and livefoods to retailers, pet shops, rescue centres, zoos and wholesalers. After thirty years of successful business, Tim and Dave were keen to take a step back from the day-to-day whilst ensuring that the employees were provided for and the succession of the business was safeguarded.

After Tim and Dave enlisted the help of Kingsley Tedder, Finance Director, to strengthen the senior management team, the business was sold in to a Trust for the benefit of employees, allowing the company to pay Tim and Dave profits whilst simultaneously enabling employees to share in a tax-free annual bonus scheme.

The transaction was led by Head of Birketts' Corporate and Commercial Team in Chelmsford, Raf Ruiz and Partner and Head of Employee IncentivesLisa Hayward.

Managing Director Chris Jones and the senior team have driven significant growth over the last four years, recently reaching revenues of £22m per annum. With the final payment being made to the co-founders later this month, the team are celebrating this milestone by ushering in a new era which will see Tim, Dave and Kingsley step down as Directors. Continuing to deliver over 50,000 items a month to customers across the UK, under the leadership of Chris Jones, Peregrine now hopes that reaching this landmark will open up new opportunities for further investment.

Chris Jones commented: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tim, Dave and Kingsley for the opportunity they have provided for me and all the staff here at Peregrine by going through the EOT model. As we’ve now made the final payment, we have freed up capital which will be invested back into the business to improve our customer offering. Watch this space… We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Birketts, whose expert guidance helped us realise the full potential of employee ownership. Professional, polite and proactive, it was a pleasure to work with the team.”

Lisa Hayward, Partner and Head of Employee Incentives at Birketts commented: “It is always a pleasure to assist a client with a move to employee ownership but Birketts is especially delighted to see Peregrine reach this significant milestone in such a short period of time. Beneficial for the local economy as well as employees, watching the company thrive as an employee owned business before going on to achieve financial independence of the founders, demonstrates perfectly the appeal of an EOT. Moving to an employee ownership model not only sees employees rewarded for their hard work but safeguards an organisation’s legacy, and we wish Peregrine every success as they enter this new chapter.”