The founders of animation studio Aardman are transferring the ownership of their multi-award-winning company to its employees. Peter Lord and David Sproxton said they are transferring ownership to staff to ensure that the company retains its independence. A majority of Aardman shares will be transferred to a trust. Senior management will remain in their positions and form an executive board.
Sproxton will stay on as managing director but look for a replacement and move into a consultancy role. Lord will stay on as creative director, focusing on film, including the upcoming “Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” and “Chicken Run 2.”
“We’re not quitting yet, but we are preparing for our future,” Lord and Sproxton said in a statement. “This approach, the creation of an employee trust, is the best solution we have found for keeping Aardman doing what it does best, keeping the teams in place and providing continuity for our highly creative culture. And of course, those that create value in the company will continue to benefit directly from the value they create.”
Four-time Oscar-winning director Nick Park will also retain an active role in the studio’s feature film and shorts productions. Along with Lord and Sproxton, he will serve on the executive board. The other members will be Carla Shelley, Heather Wright, Kerry Lock, Paula Newport, Sarah Cox and Sean Clarke.
Lord and Sproxton said that “statistics show that employee-owned companies are significantly more successful than conventionally owned companies.” They added: “We are very excited by the prospect of seeing Aardman roll far into the future under this arrangement and can rest easy that those four decades which have slipped by have paved the way for many more years of great creativity.”
The pair founded Aardman in 1972. It has made seminal animated shorts, series and features including “Creature Comforts,” “Shaun the Sheep” and Wallace and Gromit movies “The Wrong Trousers,” “A Close Shave,” and “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.”