March 28, 2019

Nearly ten years in the making, Chelsea Green Publishing completes transition to employee ownership model


As reported by Alex Green in Publishers Weekly, Chelsea Green Publishing has completed their transition to employee ownership. The employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) was conceived by founders Ian and Margot Baldwin in 2011. Within a year, all pre-existing outside investors had been bought out, and the transition to full employee ownership had begun. The completion of the plan sees the company purchase, on behalf of the employees, 78% of all privately held stocks, the remainder being held by the the Baldwins.

As Chelsea Green notes on their website, the ESOP was born out of a desire to “practice what we publish,” and to sow the seeds for a successful, sustainable, and independent future for the press, which was founded in 1984 by the Baldwins. As production director Patricia Stone told PW, “What would have happened otherwise if Margo and Ian didn’t want to continue running the company and wanted to sell their stocks? The other option would have been to sell the company to someone else and that wouldn’t have been my first choice.”

The completion of the ESOP guarantees that employees will continue to have a meaningful stake in the future of the company, and that the founders will continue to profit from the work they’ve put in over the last 35 years. In a statement to PW, Margot Baldwin called it “a tax advantaged way of transferring ownership that has a lot of benefits for employees as a significant retirement benefit as well as for selling owners.”

It’s a win-win-win!



Simon Reichley is the Director of Operations and Rights Manager at Melville House.