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Grapevine becomes an Employee Ownership Trust

Building upon three decades of supporting local businesses, we are proud to be taking the next step in the evolution of Grapevine, bringing our team to the forefront as we become an Employee Ownership Trust.

Now a full-service IT and communications support provider, we’ve come a long way since our early days as a reseller of mobile contracts in 1991. Many of today’s team have been a part of that journey, with Donna Fletcher’s 30 year anniversary and Ed Shaw’s 25 year anniversary this April.

Donna Fletcher and Ed Shaw in April 2023, presented with ‘retro’ mobile awards for their long service

As an Employee Ownership Trust, ownership of the business will transfer from the founders to our team of 20 staff members, working across the South and South West. The scheme rewards those who have dedicated a substantial amount of time to company as well as more recent additions, who have each contributed to our notable transformation in recent years.

Company directors, James Spinks and Ed Lewis provide further insight into this strategic move.

Left: James at Grapevine’s retail branch on Poole High Street in the 1990s. Right: James in April 2023.

“We have ambitious growth plans and that cannot be achieved without the right people onboard. Becoming an Employee Ownership Trust provides our team with additional job security and allows them to focus on what they do best, for us, and our clients.” – James

Left: Edward at Grapevine’s Peasedown St John office in the late 2000’s. Right: Edward in April 2023

“Grapevine has a fantastic track record when it comes to staff retention. We wanted to explore ways to continue and further reward that longevity. As an Employee Ownership Trust everyone has a genuine stake and interest in the success of the business.” – Edward

Peter Boby, who has had a major role in the development of the business across four decades, shared his thoughts on Grapevine’s next chapter.

Left: Pete at Grapevine’s retail branch on Widcombe Parade (Bath) in the 1990s. Right: Pete in April 2023.

“For Grapevine, becoming an Employee Ownership Trust just felt the right thing to do. With such a loyal and committed group of staff other alternatives, such as selling the business to a trade buyer felt wrong. Instead an EOT offered the opportunity for long term stability and for the company’s values and culture to continue for years to come.” – Pete

Company founder, Brian Vockins also reinforced the importance to him and co-founder, Hilary Vockins that the legacy of Grapevine be protected.

“The three major shareholders decided some three years ago that it was time to plan for retirement. We had, over 30 years built a strong and resilient business and wanted to pass on this to our loyal staff and management teams. The government supported EOT scheme provided just the right mechanism.” – Brian

Grapevine Technical Support Analysts, Tom Stuart (left) and Russell Rodrigues (right)

The UK Employee Ownership Association reports employee owned business as achieving higher productivity, greater levels of innovation and more resilience to economic turbulence, with workforces that are more engaged, more fulfilled and less stressed (source). Recognised Employee owned businesses include Richer Sounds and Riverford Organics.

Grapevine Support Manager, Eloise Gullis with Edward Lewis

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