OakNorth completes £2.5m loan to SES, a leading manufacturing business, to support the creation of its employee ownership trust

  • Founded in 1994, SES provides power distribution products for the entertainment industry, with customers including Universal Studios, Sky, Warner Bros, and Aggreko;
  • It’s also supported severable notable productions including: Coldplay Music of Spheres tour, Ed Sheeran Mathematics Tour, The last five Bond Movies, Dunkirk, and Mission Impossible, as well as theatrical productions: Mamma Mia, Harry Potter & The Cursed Child, Les Miserables, and The Book of Mormon;
  • Founded by brothers Mark and Gordon Cooper, the employee ownership trust will enable them to reward staff and sell their stakes while also benefiting from a tax break.

OakNorth, the digital bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, has provided a £2.5m loan to SES, the leading manufacturer of power distribution products for the entertainment industry, to support the creation of its employee ownership scheme.

Founded in 1994 by brothers Mark and Gordon Cooper, and headquartered in Slough, SES has grown into a highly successful, international manufacturing business with operations across the UK, Europe, and the Middle East. The equipment it provides broadly fit into two categories – permanent or temporary – the majority of which fall into the latter. Temporary covers everything from powering touring bands or theatre companies, through to bringing power to locations where it is limited such as outdoor film sets or in fields for festivals. While permanent includes wall-mounted distribution boxes for theatres, film, and television studios, as well as exhibition centres, and industrial locations. With a focus on quality and exceptional customer experience, over 75% of the products manufactured by SES are custom-built to the customer’s unique specifications.

It also provides equipment for leading sports events, from Formula 1 and Wimbledon, to the Champions League and every Olympic games since Athens 2000. The business employs 34 staff and three consultants, with average tenure exceeding 10 years, and several employees having been with the business for over 20 years.

Commenting on the transaction, Mark Cooper, co-founder and Managing Director of SES, commented: “Throughout its history, SES has relied on the energy and dedication of the people working for it for the continued growth and expansion into new markets. We are fortunate to have such a great team, so the idea of giving them the opportunity of taking the company forward as owners was an obvious next step. Setting up an Employee Ownership Trust with the support of OakNorth is the ideal way to do this and ensure we can continue attracting and retaining the best talent in the industry. As a fellow founder-led company, OakNorth appreciates how significant this is for Gordon and I, and had the commercial acumen and entrepreneurial approach to help us make it a reality.”

Martin Williams, Director of Debt Finance at OakNorth, continued: “SES is a well-established business and global leader in its niche and growing market, resulting in regular repeat orders from large customers who often involve it as early as the initial design stage.  Both Mark and Gordon have over 30 years’ experience in the industry, and have built a loyal, international customer base with 90% recurring customers. More and more companies are setting up employee-ownership trusts as founders look for alternative ways to reward staff and sell their stakes while also benefiting from a tax break. SES has average employee tenure of over a decade, so it’s clearly doing something right. By setting up this Employee Ownership Trust, it is providing a clear succession plan for the business, and rewarding its loyal team for their hard work and dedication.”


Notes to editors

About OakNorth

Launched in September 2015, OakNorth is the digital bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, empowering scale-up businesses (£1m-£100m turnover) to support growth, prosperity, and innovation for the benefit of all.

Since its launch, the bank has:

  • Lent over £10b to these businesses, directly helping with the creation of 40,000 new jobs and 29,000 new homes across the UK.
  • Raised deposits from c.175,000 savers.  
  • Supported several hundred businesses across the UK with the debt finance to pursue their growth ambitions.

It is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Visit www.oaknorth.co.uk for more information.

Media contact

Valentina Kristensen, Director, Growth & Communications – [email protected] / [email protected] / 0757 234 9009

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