North Berwick-based Jerba Campervans specialises in converting Volkswagen Transporter vans into luxury campervans. Founded in 2006 by husband and wife team Simon Poole and Catherine Brookes, the company carries out internal layout conversions on the iconic brand’s VW Transporter T6 model, offering six standard configurations to meet a range of different needs. Having spent long periods of time travelling in a VW camper, both as a couple and later as a family of five, Simon and Catherine use their experience to identify optimum layouts and features, working with a highly-skilled team to make their designs a reality.
In January this year, Jerba announced it had completed its transition to become an employee-owned business, with 15 members of staff becoming owners. An Employee Ownership Trust has been formed and holds 100% of the shares on behalf of the employees.
Jerba is one of the few official Volkswagen registered vehicle body builders for the Transporter T6, demonstrating diligent compliance with a wide range of key areas. By transferring their shares to an Employee Ownership Trust, Simon and Catherine have also helped to ensure that the requirement for this specialist knowledge and skillset is anchored in the local area.
We spoke to Simon to find out more.
“The matter of succession had originally been in the back of our minds as something we would need to properly consider in around five years’ time, however, when we started exploring employee ownership as a potential solution, we were so sold on the benefits that we decided to make the transition sooner rather than later.
“Employee ownership is an excellent business model which benefits everyone. Catherine and I can continue with our day to day roles in the business for as long as we need to, with the knowledge that the future is taken care of, while our employees are given a stake in the business and a say in how it is run. Not only do we envisage this driving job satisfaction, productivity and innovation, it ensures that the business’ unique ethos is preserved.
“We established Jerba following a decade of owning and hiring campervans all over the world and finding that the layout could be significantly improved to suit our specific needs. Our success lies in our extensive first-hand experience, insights from which have been passed on to our team. We felt that this intimate approach and the niche upon which the business was founded could be lost if Jerba was sold to another business.
“Protecting jobs was also an extremely important factor in our decision. Many employees have been with us for between five and ten years and have played a vital role in the growth and success of Jerba Campervans. Moving into employee ownership gives job certainty to everyone who works here and enables them to have proper control of their future. The staff are very excited about the opportunities it will bring for the future growth of the business.”
If you would like to learn more about how employee ownership could benefit your business, please get in touch to arrange a chat with one of our expert advisers.