Coolings Nurseries has announced that 75% of the third-generation company has been signed over to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT), with staff across its four sites in Kent and East Sussex set to benefit.
Paul Coolings says: “We had already planned a meal at The House of Commons to celebrate successful navigation of the COVID pandemic and now we have an extra reason to raise a glass.”
In speeches, former shareholders David Cooling and Gary Carvosso paid tribute to Michael & Shirley Cooling who both passed away before the pandemic. It was Michael who took on the half acre Chislehurst site from his father in the 1960s and developed it into a profitable business before relocating to the now famous 14-acre site in Knockholt in 1990.
Paul Cooling, who retains a 25% shareholding, praised the executive directors for guiding the business since their last celebration at the House of Commons in recognition of the company’s centenary in 2013. “Back then, we had two sites, just over 100 employees and sales of around £6m. Now we have four sites, nearly 200 employees and sales well over £12m!”. In addressing the team regarding the EOT he said: “You’ve earned it”.
Coinciding with the change of ownership, Gary Carvosso now becomes chairman, Paul Cooling takes up the new role of vice chairman and Dwayne Ross becomes managing director. Ian Hazon is production and operations director and David Cooling has now left the business.