Gift Universe transitions to employee owned business

Published on: 30th January 2023

Gifts and gadgets retailer, Gift Universe has embraced employee ownership, putting its future success in the hands of its employees.

The company says its decision to transition to an employee owner business decision was based on careful consideration of several factors as the founder, Paul Kraftman, approaches retirement in the next few years. The business is now majority owned by an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) whereby the company is operated for the benefit of the staff. The move has been hailed as a smart way of preserving the heart and soul of the company as it avoids the inevitable rationalisation associated with mergers and acquisitions by a trade buyer, or the disruption of private equity short term goals.

Whilst Gift Universe has undergone a change of majority ownership to the EOT, both the corporate and financial structures of the Group remain unchanged.

Research shows that employee owned businesses are better equipped than other companies when it comes to surviving economic shake-ups. Given Gift Universe’s resilience post 2008 as well as post the Covid-19 pandemic, the business has already proved it possesses the agility necessary to make employee ownership a success.

This decision will in due course put the profits of the business into the hands of the people who work to create them.

Trident Trust will be providing two independent directors to sit on the Employee Trust board; James Ramsden, from Trident commented: “Trident Trust, itself an EOT owned business, is one of the leading providers of EOT trustee services, supporting a diverse range of more than 30 EOT owned businesses. We look forward to supporting the Gift Universe team as they move into EOT ownership.”

Of the decision to embrace employee ownership, Paul Kraftman commented: “At Gift Universe we are proud of our great people, many of whom have been with the company for a number of years and have been emotionally invested in our journey. I am delighted that they will now have the opportunity to own a part of the business they have helped build and we will be able to manage succession planning in the business in an orderly way over the next few years, ensuring continuity.”

Gift Universe Group is made up of the brands Menkind, The Source Wholesale, Prezzybox, Lost Universe and the product brands Red5 and Ingenious.


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