“A great pub company is built on employee suggestions”: Wetherspoon names four managers to its pub management board

  • Two full-time directors were granted to two employees, while the associate director was given to two others. 
  • From today all will be acting as directors and they will continue to do so for the next three years. 
  • Staff from all over the country applied for this pub group.
  • The unusual decision by an UK-listed company is remarkable, only five other companies have staff on their boards 

Wetherspoon has named four pub managers as its directors to help bring more pub experience to the highest levels of decision-making.

The company said it had received over 100 applications from staff around the country and appointed two employees to full director status, and two as associate directors.

While this is an unusual move for a UK-listed company, Wetherspoon chairman and founder Tim Martin said this was key for a firm’s success.

Worker directors: Wetherspoon has appointed four to its board today

Wetherspoon today appointed four workers directors

He said that “a pub company’s success is largely dependent on incremental improvements, which are based upon suggestions by employees.”

“Pub managers and others from pub teams have participated in weekly decision making meetings. These discussions distill suggestions from the frontline’.

“The appointment of employees directors will expand this approach to board meetings, and help preserve the culture of company for the future.”

West Midlands regional manager, Debbie Whittingham – who joined the group in 1992 – and Hudson Simmons, the area manager for Sheffield, have been appointed as employee directors with full PLC director status.  

Meanwhile, the regional manager for the Manchester area, Will Fotheringham, and the pub manager of the Imperial in Exeter, Emma Gibson, have been made associate employee directors. 

From today all will be acting as directors and they will continue to do so for three more years. 

Wetherspoon chairman and founder Tim Martin welcomed suggestions from the 'front line'

Tim Martin is the founder of Wetherspoon and Chairman Tim Martin welcomes suggestions from the “front line”

Although it is common in Germany and Sweden to have worker representatives appointed on boards of directors, this isn’t typical in the UK. 

Capita, an outsourcing company, became the first FTSE 250 firm for over 30 years to appoint directors onto its main board.

The last UK-based pubic company to appoint a worker was First Group. Mick Barker, the train driver, joined the boardroom as a member of the First Group boardroom in 1989. 

Jeremy Corbyn, then Labour leader, made it one of his top 2018 policies to put employees on boards. 

The current government has dropped this initiative, but it was another of Theresa May’s key proposals when she was prime minister in 2016.

The Government’s updated UK Corporate Governance code, which took effect from January 2019, allowed listed companies to invent their own system for ‘engaging’ with employees. 

If they inform investors, they can ignore or even disregard the directive. 

The Financial Reporting Council recently commissioned a report that found only a fraction of firms – five FTSE 350 companies – had worker directors to their boards. 

The report concluded that “Perhaps they are not the radical change some had hoped to see,” and was completed by Royal Holloway University and Involvement and Participation Association. It was published in May.