Employee Ownership at Aardman

Aardman became Employee Owned in November 2018. Before this, Aardman was “owned”  by its two founders, Peter Lord and David Sproxton who had begun working professionally under the Aardman name in 1976. As the studio approached its 40-year anniversary, the question arose of how best to ensure the legacy and success of Aardman could continue after David and Peter stepped back from their day to day responsibilities, and it was eventually concluded that an employee-owned structure would be the best guarantee for the long-term continued success for the studio.

On 5th November 2018, Peter and David transitioned the company into Employee Ownership. Aardman was – in simple terms – sold to Aardman itself. Peter and David sold 75% of their shares to a trust set up specially to hold those shares for the benefit of the Aardman employees, or Partners as they are now called, which includes permanent staff and freelancers who all now share the responsibility of ownership and its rewards. The Trust ensures the company is run for the benefit of the Partners and is managed by Aardman’s MD – Sean Clarke - and Executive Board in accordance with the guiding principles set out by David and Peter in their Legacy Documents, written as part of the transition process.

Partner Representatives and Deputies were elected, establishing a Partner Representatives Group (or PRG) to bring Partners and senior leaders together to discuss the issues that matter to Partners in an open, honest and proactive way. EO has also led to the creation of a number of task forces to look at important issues Partners have flagged through Engagement Surveys.  Task forces formed from Partners across the different areas of the studio have included maternity and paternity benefits, equality, diversity and inclusion, gender pay and mental health.

Peter and David continue to be involved with Aardman; currently David sits on the Trust and continues to play a pivotal role in the organisation, alongside his fellow trustees. Peter, meanwhile, continues to be involved in a number of projects at Aardman in his capacity as Creative Director, and sits on Aardman’s Creative Counsel.