English Woodlands, East Sussex tree nursery, has become 100% employee-owned following its sale to a newly created Employee Ownership Trust

English Woodlands, East Sussex tree nursery, has become 100% employee-owned following its sale to a newly created Employee Ownership Trust
9 January 2024 139 view(s)
English Woodlands, East Sussex tree nursery, has become 100% employee-owned following its sale to a newly created Employee Ownership Trust

Group shot of English Woodlands staff who are now co-owners of the nursery

English Woodlands nursery in East Sussex is now an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT)

Announcing the transition to an employee-owned company, founder Michael Hardcastle said “We wanted to safeguard the independence of English Woodlands for the future whilst acknowledging the success and expertise of our talented team. We all feel this is a very positive step forward which recognises the commitment and capabilities of our staff who now become co-owners and share in the success of our special business”.

The specialist tree and shrub supplier is well known for providing a wide range of quality tree and shrub species in various sizes up to 5m height. As well as the quality of its plants, expert advice and reliable delivery, top priority is given to ensuring that plant health management standards and biosecurity measures are in place. The nursery became one the first in the UK to be awarded the Plant Healthy Standard certification following an independent audit in 2022 and this remains a key feature of the business today.


English Woodlands serves a wide range of clients, particularly in the South East, including private individuals, farmers and landowners, landscapers, developers, conservation and environmental bodies, parish and district councils and many local authorities and public bodies.

Acer rumbrum Bowhall from English Woodlands

Above: Acer rubrum 'Bowhall', purchased from English Woodlands and looking resplendent in its first autumn season in the new setting.

Employee Ownership Trust

The conversion to employee ownership is designed to secure the long-term future of English Woodlands as an independent company. Simon Johnson, Managing Director and Jo Carter, Sales Director continue to lead the business and are currently seeing a very strong demand for trees, particularly native species, as tree planting projects move into the mainstream. The shareholders have sold their shares in the company to the newly formed Employee Ownership Trust while remaining fully committed to the business and will share in its future success along with the 16 staff who have become beneficiaries of the trust, effectively co-owners.


While the concept of Employee Ownership is not new in the UK, it has received greater attention since 2014 when the government put in place various measures to encourage this form of business ownership model in which a trust owns the controlling stake in a company, on behalf of the employees. John Lewis & Partners is probably the best-known example, but many companies have followed in its footsteps including Riverford Organic Farmers Ltd, Arup Group Ltd, Connick Tree Care and Coolings Nurseries. The Employee Ownership Association recently confirmed that the UK employee-owned sector has grown by 37% in just 12 months to over 1,400 businesses.

Autumn colour at English Woodlands' nursery

Tree and shrub nursery, open to the public

Visitors, suppliers and customers will see no noticeable difference! English Woodlands is proud of its nursery, open to the public six days per week. In addition to the extensive range of container trees available, including interesting specimens, the company sells bareroot plants for hedging and woodland, which can be ordered now, for planting between the end of November and April. There is a full range of tree planting accessories including tree guards, stakes, tree ties, tree anchoring systems, mulching materials and compost in addition to mycorrhizal fungi, fertiliser, irrigation systems and lawn edging. Delivery is available across the UK.

Visit the website to view the range of trees and shrubs currently available!  The nursery also supplies bareroot plants during the dormant season from November through to March. These can be viewed HERE. 


English Woodlands
Burrow Nursery
Cross in Hand
East Sussex
TN21 0UG

Tel: 01435 862992