THE boss of Richer Sounds music chain has handed control of his company to his 522 employees – landing them all life-changing bonuses.
Staff will get a payout of £1,000 for each year they have worked with the company – with 39 long-serving employees set for the payout of a lifetime after clocking up more than 20 years each.
Julian Richer made his staff a little richer after transferring 60% of his business into an employee ownership trust.
This means the business will now be run on behalf of the 522 employees across his 53 stores, much like the John Lewis business model.
Called the Richer Sounds Trust, the employee ownership plan will run according to a set of principles to make sure the firm “continues to operate in a responsible manner, and is based on honesty, commitment, trust and respect”.
Mr Richer, 60, opened his first branch of Richer Sounds in London Bridge in 1978 – when he was just 19 years old.
Today, the firm is considered the largest hi-fi retailer in the UK.
Mr Richer will now retain £9.2million of the business for the stake, while £3.5million will be handed out in bonuses.
The average bonus payout will be £8,000.
Mr Richer began buying and selling hi-fi separates at the age of 14, while still in school.
Five years later he opened his first store in London Bridge with the help of photography retailer Vic Odden.
He went on to expand his business nationwide and online, as well as opening telesales and business to business departments.
While his empire began largely with budget hi-fi systems, he moved on to TV, home cinema systems and premium audio products.
Employees working within the Richer Sounds business were treated to a host of employee perks including access to company-paid holiday homes around the world, including in Paris, Venice and Barcelona.
Staff also had access to private doctor consultations and subsidised gym memberships.
The firm rejects “zero hours contracts”, and 15% of profit, around £9.6million, is donated to more than 400 charities each year.
The firm also has a ‘Helping Hand Fund’ used to assist staff in emergencies.
It has now emerged that Mr Richer, who is married but has no children, had planned to hand over control of his business to his staff many years ago and had even written the plan into his will.
However, he chose to get the plans into action at his retirement in order to personally oversee the transition, which began behind the scenes 18 months ago.