More than 500 staff at Richer Sounds are in line for a £3.5m windfall after the retail chain’s boss handed them a 60% stake in the business.
Julian Richer, who founded the business in 1978 when he was 19, said the “time was right” to give employees the stake as he had turned 60.
The shares will be placed in an Employee Ownership Trust.
Each of the 522 employees will pick up £1,000 for every year at the firm, giving an average payout of £8,000.
Some longer serving staff will receive more: 39 have worked for the Hi-fi and TV retailer for more than 20 years, including one who has 40 years’ service.
Mr Richer will receive £9.2m for the stake, although £3.5m will be used to make the cash payments to staff.
“I have always planned to leave my company in trust on my death for the benefit of the colleagues in the business,” Mr Richer said.
“Having hit the ripe old age of 60 in March, I felt the time was right, rather than leaving it until I’m not around, to ensure that the transition goes smoothly and I can be part of it.
“The company’s banks, suppliers and customers should feel that the move is (hopefully) seamless and Richer Sounds carries on as normal.”
A drummer in the funk band Ten Millennia, Mr Richer will remain involved in the business, but hand day-to-day running to the existing management team.
Richer Sounds, which has 53 stores, donates 15% of profits to a number of charities and says it is founded on “the ethical principles of being decent, honest and truthful and hopefully [this] runs through everything we do”.
In 2013, the Financial Times quoted Mr Richer as saying he had written into his will the plan to hand shares to his employees after his death.
At the time, he said: “It’s important… My life’s work is my legacy and I haven’t got a spoilt child to run the business.”
The change has been likened to the John Lewis model of ownership, where staff at Waitrose and John Lewis department stores own the business and are known as partners.