Workers are in the driving seat

Future: CEO Stephen Ford
Future: CEO Stephen Ford
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Workers have taken control of a multi-million pound travel firm.

Euxton-based coach holiday operator Alfa Travel – together with its sister company Leisureplex Hotels – is now employee-owned.

The Sawbridge family, who founded the businesses – which recorded revenue of £34.8m in its latest financial results – has sold 75 per cent of the shares in a new holding company to an employee trust for an undisclosed sum. They say it will secure the business.

Three employee trustees – two based at Alfa Travel, East Terrace, Euxton Lane, the other a hotel manager in Scotland – have been elected by a ballot of all members of the workforce across the company.

The 17 candidates who put themselves forward included chefs, a maintenance manager and coach drivers.

One of the Euxton-based trustees, group sales manager Alyson Jones, 45, said: “I don’t think we were expecting it. We knew there were going to have to be some changes. I think we’re all quite excited about it. Generally the feeling is really good. We’re going to have a lot of input into the business.

“If we’d been sold off, the likelihood is the business would have been split up.”

New CEO Stephen Ford has just joined the firm from Australia. He said: “It’s been a very, very successful business by focusing on our customers and none of that’s going to change.

“We’re going to continue to grow the business and have the employees be part of that.”

Together, the business own and operate 21 holiday hotels, 46 coaches, sell more than 100,000 coach holidays a year and employ 670 staff.

The Sawbridge family have retained a 25 per cent minority share in the combined business.