Wetherspoon appoints four pub directors to its board

‘A successful public company depends on employee suggestions’: Wetherspoon appoints four directors to its board

  • Two employees obtained full manager status, and two worked as assistant managers
  • Everyone will serve as managers as of today, and they will remain in their position for three years
  • Pub Group has received more than 100 requests from employees across the country
  • It’s an unusual move by a UK listed company, five other companies have workers on boards

Wetherspoon has appointed four pub directors to its board of directors in an effort to bring “more pub experience” to decision-making at the highest levels.

The company said it has received more than 100 requests from employees across the country and has appointed two employees as full manager and two as co-managers.

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

Labor managers: Wetherspoon appointed four members to its board of directors today

“A successful bar company relies primarily on incremental improvements, based on employee suggestions,” he said today.

Bar and district managers and other members of bar teams have always participated in weekly decision-making meetings, which extract suggestions from the “front line”.

“The appointment of personnel managers will extend this approach to board meetings and help preserve the company’s culture into the future.”

The West Midlands regional manager, Debbie Whittingham – who joined the group in 1992 – and Hudson Simmons, Sheffield’s area manager, were appointed as staff managers with full PLC manager status.

Meanwhile, Manchester Area Regional Manager Will Fotheringham and Bar Manager at Imperial in Exeter Emma Gibson have been appointed as Assistant Staff Managers.

Everyone will serve as directors as of today, and they will remain in their position for three years.

Luke Hildyard, executive director of the High Pay Center, a think tank focused on pay and corporate governance, was cautious in welcoming the move.

He said, “The views that labor managers can provide in terms of improvements in customer service and employee relations are clear.

New Wetherspoons directors will have greater credibility and independence if they are elected by their colleagues rather than appointed by existing board members, and it must also be remembered that board representation is a complement rather than a substitute for full union rights and recognition.

“But this is a positive move from Wetherspoons that will benefit workers and shareholders in the long run.”

Wetherspoon President and Founder Tim Martin welcomed suggestions

Wetherspoon President and Founder Tim Martin welcomes ‘front line’ suggestions

While the appointment of worker representatives to corporate boards is common in countries such as Sweden and Germany, it is not so common in the UK.

In 2019, outsourcing company Capita became the first FTSE 250 company for 30 years to appoint workers as directors to its main board of directors.

Prior to that, he was the last worker appointed to the board of a major UK public company at First Group, when train driver Mick Parker joined the board in 1989.

Appointing employees to corporate boards was one of then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s most important policies in 2018.

It was also one of the main initiatives proposed by Theresa May when she became prime minister in 2016, but has been dropped by the current government.

The government’s updated UK Corporate Governance Code, which came into effect from January 2019, allowed listed companies to devise their own system for ‘dealing’ with employees.

They can even ignore the guidance entirely if they explain their decision to investors.

According to a recent report commissioned by the Financial Reporting Council, ‘very few companies’ – or just five companies in the FTSE 350 Index – have working directors on their boards.

“They may not have been the drastic changes that some had hoped,” concluded the report, which was conducted by Royal Holloway University and the Association for Engagement and Participation in May this year.


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