By Ian McConnell

An employee-owned campervan converter, which had to halt production during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, shared full details of its financial position including its bank balance with staff to reassure them about job security amid the crisis.

All 15 of the North Berwick-based firm’s staff, who were furloughed under the UK Government coronavirus job retention scheme, have returned to the factory to work on a backlog of orders. Jerba Campervans, which converts Volkswagen Transporter vehicles into campervans, cited potential for a boom in “staycations” to boost demand as it returned to production last week.

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A spokesman for Jerba said the firm had shown its employees the books amid the halt in production “to reassure the staff their jobs were safe”.

Finishing carpenter Ian Adkins said: “The company shares all of its financial information and encourages us to ask questions and be fully involved in the day-to-day running of the business.

“It’s given us all great reassurance during these very difficult times. Everyone has been open and transparent throughout this process and [this] has left everyone here feeling secure. It is another example of why employee-ownership is the answer.”

Jerba director Simon Poole, who founded the business with wife Cath in 2006, said: “As an employee-owned business it is, put simply, common sense for us to share everything with our team – salaries, payments, expenses, the lot.

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“I notified early on ‘here’s what’s in the bank’ and reassured that thanks to a number of van sales completing before lockdown, we were in a secure position to pay everyone’s full pay for months to come, regardless of when we receive our due grants. It felt obvious to do this – and on reflection that alone seems to encapsulate how different employee-ownership businesses can be.”

The campervan converter became 100%-employee-owned in 2018 and has seen productivity rise year-on-year.

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Mr Poole said last week: “Full conversions per month was four to five prior to lockdown and we will very quickly return to that. The new layouts and working restrictions we have brought in will only have a very marginal impact on productivity – we should soon make up for it with continual improvement in other areas.”

The firm offers five standard conversions of the T6.1 Transporter van. Its team of cabinet-makers and mechanics then build the vans by hand, customising each vehicle to the customer's needs. Jerba is recognised as a converter by Volkswagen.