Fiona Scott Media Consultanccy

SUCCESSFUL copywriting agency A Thousand Monkeys, based in Bournemouth, Dorset, has turned its business into an employee-owned trust to secure its future.

In 2012, founder Richard Spencer set up his agency as a successful career as a freelance advertising copywriter blossomed into something bigger. With too much work to handle he began recruiting local talent and started growing as a business.

“I never dreamt at that time that the agency would keep growing and we would become a team of seven,” Richard said.

Now Richard is taking more of a back seat as the agency becomes an employee-owned trust, run by the employees for the employees.

 “I have the most amazing and talented team and we would not have been such a success without their skill and professionalism. When I first began thinking about exiting the business before the pandemic, I was looking for a way to reward them for their hard work,” Richard said. 

Richard was looking at various options to help the team take more ownership of the business and liked the idea of employee ownership - then the pandemic came along.

“That really delayed me making a decision,” Richard said. “And it’s only been in recent months that I was able to present my idea to my team and we’ve taken the steps necessary to secure the business for the future.”

Richard did some research and found Kent-based expert Chris Maslin who runs Go EO which provides an affordable process for moving a business into an employee ownership trust, often known as an EOT. In 2021, Chris moved his previous business, an accountancy firm, into such a trust after deciding it was time for him to move on to pastures new.

“Like Richard, I was invested in my team but felt that my time leading the business should come to an end and I wanted to move on. I sold to an EOT, which I’m happy was a great move for all concerned. The process did however leave me thinking it could be done in a more streamlined and affordable way which was accessible for smaller businesses,” Chris said.

An employee-owned business means that the founder or owners can exit the business by selling their shares to a trust run by employees. That founder can exit immediately or over a period of time, whatever suits both the company and their own plans.

Richard said: “I’m not leaving the company. I’m still on hand one-day a week to advise and mentor the team - and I’ll also run our training programmes as before. However, at 62, it’s time to make more time to indulge my passions of cycling and sailing!”

The team at A Thousand Monkeys have worked with brands including King’s College London; Anthony Collins Solicitors; University of Hertfordshire; Pan MacMillan and Civica. To find out more visit

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