Richer Sounds owner hands control of firm, and a load of cash, to staff

Until now, Richer Sounds has been 100% owned by its founder, Julian Richer.

But the 60-year-old has decided it's time to make things a little more equal in the workplace – announcing to staff that he's handing them control of the company.

"Today our founder Julian Richer announced that he is handing control of the business over to the staff. Richer Sounds is now one of the biggest UK companies to embrace employee ownership in recent years," the company said.

“My father dropped down dead at 60 so I am very keen for this to happen in my lifetime,” Richer – who founded the chain when he was just 19 – told The Guardian .

“I felt the time was right, rather than leaving it until I’m not around, to ensure the transition goes smoothly and I can be part of it. I still really, really care but it is time for the next generation.”

So instead, he's transferred 60% of his shares into a trust fund to be run on behalf of the store's staff.

More than that, he's handing them all a bonus – worth £1,000 for each year they've worked for the TV and hi-fi firm, with the average payout of £8,000.

A few of them – who've been working there for more than 20 years – will get an awful lot more than that.

“This is to thank loyal, hardworking colleagues,” Richer said.

Richer Sounds was founded in 1978, and now has more than 50 stores across the UK.

Owned by its founder, it's always been one of the more forward-looking companies in terms of how it treats its staff.

Zero-hours contracts are banned, the Living Wage thoroughly embraced, its gender pay gap actually favours women, it has company holiday homes across the world employees can use, as well as a "Helping Hand Fund" in case staff get into financial difficulties.

It also pays its suppliers on time, is accredited by The Fair Tax Mark for paying tax and reporting our tax transparently and has a comprehensive environmental policy. Oh and it donates 15% of all profits to charity.

"Our business is founded on the ethical principles of being decent, honest and truthful and hopefully runs through everything we do," the Richer Way, section of the company site reads.

It's now joining the likes of John Lewis with the staff controlling the company they work for – although Julian Richer will stay on for a while as managing director while the new trust takes control.

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