Isobel Schofield and Andrew Lane
Clare Burnett

Leeds manufacturer undergoes Government-backed employee-ownership initiative

Leeds-based Union Industries are are becoming one of the increasing number of privately owned companies who sell their business to employees under a Government backed initiative.

Paul and Isobel Schofield, the owners of Union Industries, have taken the decision to sell the business to its employees, despite having received a number of “excellent offers” for the purchase of the company.

Paul Schofield said: “Our principle objective was to ensure the growth and continued success of the Company, and of equal importance to ensure the future wellbeing and prosperity of our people, many of whom have been with us for a considerable number of years.”

In preparation for Union’s transition to Employee Ownership, Andrew Lane has been appointed Managing Director following a rigorous selection process, whittled down from over 100 worthy applicants.

Andrew will succeed Isobel Schofield who assumes the role of Chair of the Company’s Board of Directors. Union Industries’ founder and current Chairman, Paul Schofield will become a Chairman of the Employee Benefit Trust Board.

Andrew Lane joins the company from Sutcliffe Play, the leading playground equipment designer and manufacturer. As Operations Director, Andrew increased factory efficiency by 50% and introduced an employee development and recognition programme.

Prior to joining Sutcliffe Play, Andrew worked with major US companies including Caterpillar and Astro Air.

Andrew has gained invaluable experience of working in an employee-owned business after Sutcliffe Play underwent this process in 2010.

With its factory based in Hunslet, Leeds, Union manufactures a range of industrial products, including their market-leading range of Industrial Rapid Roller Doors.

Clients have included blue-chip companies across the UK and Europe including Tesco, Cummins, ASDA, TRW, Lidl, the Co-op and 3663.

From its origins as a Tarpaulin maker and repairer, Union has evolved to become a specialised bespoke manufacturer of advanced heavy duty textile products for both Civil and Military applications.

Andrew Lane said “Union Industries is a company which has been consistently successful and that’s because of the way the business has been run. Paul and Isobel Schofield are leaving pretty big boots to fill.”

“It has a unique culture and sense of identity, which its entire workforce helps to generate. From my experience it is the perfect business to embrace employee-ownership.

“The company delivers an excellent product, a rich heritage of quality British engineering prowess and total focus on customer service, which are values close to my heart.”

Isobel Schofield said: “In Andrew Lane we have definitely found the total package. His background in engineering is at the heart of what we do and his previous experience in employee ownership will be invaluable to us.

“He is full of energy and enthusiasm and his passion for our business shines through.

“He understands the spirit and ethos that motivates Union and makes it tick. Paul and I have no qualms whatsoever in handing over the reins to him and am confident that he will drive the company forward to greater success.”

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