A big part of the rationale for the creation of AHWL was to support and promote the transparency agenda in the UK. Historically the Wilkinson family’s assets were held in a series of UK trusts. Trusts are an incredibly effective vehicle for ownership as they can separate decision making from benefits but they are, by nature, somewhat opaque as they are not regulated by transparent reporting requirements and often preserve the privacy of family owners and minor beneficiaries.
We could see increasing implications from the transparency agenda, for example we were asked by the UK press to disclose dividend distributions from wilko to the Wilkinson family. A decision was taken to put in place a family office company moving share ownership in the wilko group from the Wilkinson family trusts to AHWL. This means that dividend payments are clear and transparently shown as between wilko and AHWL and the assets of AHWL are also clearly shown in the annual audited accounts. To date no dividend has been paid by AHWL and there are no intentions to do so, we are investing.
For the avoidance of any doubt the Wilkinson family trusts always acted as responsible citizens, they are still in place and they still do. However, it was recognised by the Wilkinson family that perceptions of their opaque nature could potentially create distrust. They have passed significant amounts of capital into AHWL as share capital for us to invest.
More fundamentally it is intended that, over time, AHWL will diversify investment for the Wilkinson family and by doing so own other UK assets and create, support and acquire other UK businesses that will be an active part of the UK economy and in turn support their team members.