Hardscape staff given ownership of the company through an employee ownership trust

Mathew Haslam

Mathew Haslam has set up an employee ownership trust to transfer ownership of Hardscape and IP Surfaces to the staff.

Hardscape is the latest company to transfer ownership to its employees through an employee ownership trust.

An employee ownership trust is where the employees of a business own all or most of the shares in a company. It is growing in popularity as it offers benefits for businesses, their owners and employees, especially as a way of succession planning.

Hardscape was founded by Mathew Haslam in 1994, originally selling British stone, but as natural stone became more popular for hard landscaping, thanks to companies like Hardscape, UK quarries could not meet the demand and Hardscape and others looked abroad.

Hardscape sourced its stone from Europe, Asia and a small volume from India, although it never offered the cheap riven sandstone from India that other companies turned to because, says Mathew Haslam, "it's not our market and not demanded on award-winning public realm projects!".

And award-winning public realm projects are what Hardscape likes to be involved with. You can read about its contribution to just such a scheme at Elephant Park in London here and for the Glade of Light memorial to those killed by a suicide bomber at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester here.

For nearly 30 years, working with a global supply chain that it has always endeavoured to ensure supplies ethically-sourced products, Hardscape has provided designers and construction with a wide choice of materials, more in more ways since the formation of a separate company called IP Surfaces (read more about that here).

Mathew only went public about being the owner of Hardscape in 2018. He said he knew the team of 70 he had spent 23 years nurturing was ready and formed. It was ‘their time’, he said. Now he has transferred to them the ownership of Hardscape and IP Surfaces.

Under the employee ownership arrangement, Mathew says environmental and social governance will always be key facets of the business, as are the company values that he says have enabled Hardscape to build a loyal team with rich experience across all areas of the business.

“Our values, which are embedded into everything we do, allow us to deliver products and services which our customers expect,” says Matthew in a statement about the creation of the employee ownership trust.

He says: “People are a massive part of why we achieve what we achieve, and with that in mind and to further our company ambitions we are pleased to announce that Hardscape has become an employee-owned business.

“This creates an enduring ownership structure with tangible employee benefits, resulting in a long-term strategic view and increased business investment, for the benefit of our customers and business partners.

“Going forward, the leadership of the business will by forged by its existing Directors, Alex Warren, Anthony Collins, Chris Wood and Dave Lowe, assisted by a senior management team and supported by myself and Nick Owen as a newly appointed Independent Trustee Board Director.

“Combined with technical expertise, an open and honest approach, an ambitious ‘it can be done attitude’, with a sophisticated logistics and production facility, this offer has aided the creation of many award-winning and groundbreaking schemes across the UK, and a respect in the wonderful placemaking led industry.”