Meet Riverford’s new owners – our staff!

The UK rates poorly for job satisfaction.

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47% of people feel unfulfilled and want to change jobs

Given that work demands so much of us, that’s a tragedy – and a waste of potential on a vast scale.

Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson wanted to prove that there is a better way. In June 2018, he sold the business to its staff – making us all co-owners! We have the power to make sure everyone gets a fair deal: from the bees and butterflies in our fields, to the co-owner who picks your carrots or packs your box.

What is employee ownership?

Employee ownership is any business where employees have…

  1. A financial stake in the business
  2. A say in how the business is run

This can mean anything from proper hippie cooperatives, to businesses that sell a percentage of their shares to employees. It offers an alternative to selling up to profit-driven bankers, leaving the business in the hands of those who know it best: its staff.

Business as a force for good

Research shows that employee ownership delivers real emotional benefits. Staff show great levels of health and well-being, and high job satisfaction – especially around communication, decision-making, and enjoyment of their role.

It’s also better for customers! Empowered, engaged and fulfilled employees put their heart into their work – meaning better quality and care for you.

“To me it just felt fairer. Everyone contributes to success, everyone benefits.”

– Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson

Why employee ownership?

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Protecting our values – forever

  • Giving a fair deal to staff, suppliers, customers and the planet
  • A commitment to organic and to our farming roots
  • Long-term relationships of trust with our growers

These core values are protected in the legal documents of Riverford’s employee ownership. Our veg will always be 100% organic, always come straight from farmers, and farmers will always reap the rewards.

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Ensuring our independence and a long-term view

It’s now virtually impossible for Riverford to be sold. Our soil and people will never end up in the hands of venture capitalists, driven by short-term profits rather than long-term good.

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The best people for the job

Riverford’s employees are the people most passionately interested in its value and its veg, and the best custodians of them. We’re also the people who should benefit from our hard work!

Our new Co-owner Council and Co-owner Trustees make sure that every voice is heard, from all levels and parts of the business – and that everyone gets a fair deal.

Riverford & employee ownership

Don’t keep it in the family

Riverford was founded in 1987, when Guy Singh-Watson started growing organic vegetables in one field of his parents’ Devon farm. With none of Guy’s children interested in taking over, and as the time came to look towards retirement, he spent over a decade considering the question of ‘What next?’

Veg from venture capitalists?

Food ordered online is seen as a high-growth area ripe for ‘unicorn’ status. This, combined with the sale of Abel & Cole to venture capitalists in 2012, brought a stream of bankers to Guy’s door.

Declining every offer, Guy chose instead to sell the business to its staff (now ‘co-owners’!), for well under half of its market value. If being a unicorn means leaving Riverford at the whim of shareholders, who might not care about the values it was founded on, then we’re not interested.

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“If each of us at Riverford achieves even three-quarters of our potential, we will fly – and we hope others will follow.”

– Guy Singh-Watson

“If each of us at Riverford achieves even three-quarters of our potential, we will fly – and we hope others will follow.”

– Guy Singh-Watson

Choose a business owned by its staff. Choose Riverford.

Riverford’s employees are the business. We own it, and we’re really passionate about what we do – putting care and expertise into every moment of a vegetable’s journey, from our fields to your doorstep.

Choose from a wide selection of seasonal boxes – and top up with organic dairy, drinks, store cupboard staples and more. Delivery is free; no need to be home.

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© 2019 Riverford Organic Farmers Ltd