On January 6 Interface became employee-owned, with business founders Gavin Jordan and Mike Greenland saying they wanted to reward and incentivise their employees through their direct ownership of Interface.

It employs 15 staff and uses over 30 associate auditors, with more than 600 timber, paper and construction companies certified.

The men said a sale through acquisition would have meant a guaranteed and upfront financial outcome for them. By taking the route of an EOT, they will be paid for their shares over a five-year period. They have now parted with 80% of their shares with no cast-iron guarantees that the business will continue to prosper and be able to make the agreed repayments.

“We were fully aware that selling our shares through an EOT was more of a personal risk than some sales options,” they said.

“But our main concerns are for the future security of our staff and the ethics of our business. We have full and entire trust in Interface and its staff, and are confident that the EOT will be a success for all”.

The risks, they added, are outweighed by the benefits of a fully engaged, motivated and driven staff team, who are personal beneficiaries of the company and its profits.

Mr Jordan and Mr Greenland, who have both been involved in the timber trade for their entire careers, set up Interface in 2002 after returning from volunteering in Africa and climbing unclimbed mountains in the Himalaya.