THURSDAY 6 OCT 2022 2:22 PM


Barley Communications is becoming employee-owned, following a trend in PR firms making the same move

Award-winning agency Barley Communications is now a majority employee-owned company, after 80% of shares held by agency founders, James Ford and Sam Williams, were sold to an employee-ownership trust (EOT). Ford and Williams will each retain a 10% shareholding, and both will take position of co-CEO. This follows a trend in employee ownership across PR firms.   

Barley has twelve permanent staff, with over 40 consultants working for the agency on a freelance basis. Within the new structure, agency directors will be taking on new responsibilities: James McCollum has been appointed company director for Barley’s operating company, alongside directors; Adam Gavshon Brady is employee trustee for the new employee ownership trust, alongside Sam Williams and independent trustee Sally Rhodes; Laura Harrison will head up new employee and freelancer forums.

Barley founder Sam Williams says: “The year to March 2022 was a game-changer for Barley as we doubled our annual revenue, and we’re thrilled to support even more organisations with their important work as a further eight new clients have chosen to come to Barley in the last six months. 

“With so much of our growth coming via recommendations from happy clients, the move to employee ownership feels like the right step to protect and grow everything we’ve worked hard to create here at Barley.” 

Barley Communications’ clients include Borough Market, East West Railway Company and Compassion in World Farming.

Co-founder James Ford says: “The new structure presents an opportunity to build on this foundation, maintaining Barley’s independence and values, whilst giving our people increased opportunity to shape the direction of the agency as we move forward.”