Bright future for Viva after switch to Employee Ownership Trust

Tony Garner with the Viva Team

Leading Rossendale public relations agency Viva has become an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT).

The move will sustain the 21-year-old company’s legacy and culture for years to come.

The existing leadership team — which oversaw turnover growth of 26% last year to a new record —will remain in place and maintain day-to-day operational oversight

Under the plan, the majority share of the Rawtenstall company’s equity transfers into the legal trust on behalf of employees.

Founded by managing director Tony Garner in 2002, Viva has grown over the past two decades into an award-winning firm of 13 employees serving high-profile clients like BAE Systems, Eurofighter, NHS trusts and local authorities. The agency has built its name on delivering impact-focused storytelling and meaningful results for its clients.

Viva’s leadership feel that the creation of an EOT, often dubbed the John Lewis model, will ensure employees have a clear stake in the collective success and independence of the agency.

“I believe this step is the right way forward for Viva,” says Tony. “We’ve spent the last 20 years establishing our name and I see the EOT as a great way of securing our future. Our employees benefit, and our clients have a clear picture too.

“We are in essence a people business and we’ve been successful thanks to our talent and culture. Our leadership and our team have ensured we have enjoyed excellent client retention even through challenging times while remaining a great place to work. Having employees own that success themselves will only accelerate our agency’s ability to deliver excellence.”

“The first 21 years have been a great adventure, the EOT provides a path to boost productivity, employee satisfaction and service quality for many more years to come.”

Umar Memon from Jack Ross Chartered Accountants, alongside Steve Walker from Livingstons Solicitors, played a crucial role in facilitating the transition to an EOT. Umar’s expertise in navigating the complexities of employee ownership structures and tax implications was instrumental in this process.

Tony said: “The guidance and proficiency Umar and Steve brought to the table were exemplary. Their insights were invaluable in ensuring a smooth transition to this new structure.”

Umar Memon, Managing Partner at Jack Ross said: “Working with Viva during their transition to an Employee Ownership Trust was a fulfilling experience. Witnessing a company take such a significant step towards employee empowerment and long-term sustainability is always rewarding. Our role involved detailed planning and close collaboration with Viva’s team, ensuring that the transition complied with legal, tax and accounting requirements and aligned with the company’s ethos and future aspirations.”





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