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Nikwax and Nick Brown Invest in the Future

45 years after founding Nikwax, Nick Brown is passing control and ownership to his employees

Building on 45 years of Nikwax history
February 1st, 2022, became a historic day for the Nikwax Brand. After 45 years of being owner and founder, Nick Brown has passed control to the employees, on three continents, by selling his business to our newly formed Employee Ownership Trust.

Back in 1977, Nick was living in London and had just finished university; he was both unemployed and in love with the outdoors – specifically long-distance walking and backpacking. Nick also had a flair for chemistry and he utilised this talent to create his first product – Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather – which he supplied to the 1980 Royal Geographical Society Karakoram Expedition, and which went on to sell in more than 50 countries.

Over the years, Nikwax has grown to be an international company, with branches in Mainland Europe, North America and South America. We are the only established waterproofing aftercare brand never to have used PFCs in our formulations (PFCs are associated with cancer and immune system damage, and are now known as the “forever chemicals” because they bio-accumulate). Our innovation is what led to the achievement of winning a prestigious 4 Queen’s Awards, the last being The Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development in 2014 – the first outdoor brand to do so.

Nick explained how he feels about the transition,
“By passing on the business to the employees, I feel that I am not only looking after them, but also looking after the interests of our loyal customers. Outdoor people have come to have high expectations of Nikwax, at many levels, and I would not want them to be disappointed. So many companies end up being aggressively taken over and broken up, and lose their soul. This is our best shot at avoiding that and continuing the guiding principles.”

The future of Nikwax is in shared ownership – an Employee Ownership Trust
Nick is now 67, and whilst he hasn’t hung up his boots, he has been preoccupied for more than decade with how to achieve a smooth succession. The Nikwax legacy is one of trying to do business in a responsible way and taking our planet and peoples’ future into account. 4 years ago, the idea of an Employee Ownership Trust was suggested by Nick’s HSBC Bank Manager, Simon Austin, and that started a long and complex project that comes to fruition today, having been delayed by Covid-19.

The founding concept of an EOT is that it exists for the benefit of the employees and all, in effect, are partners whilst employed. Since their introduction, EOTs have become an increasingly popular route for owner/founders to achieve succession, whilst protecting the community of employees they have created.

And, finally, one percent for the planet and for people
Part of the transition is a watertight undertaking that one percent of turnover will be forevermore dedicated to environmental and social projects.

Maïté Angleys, Director of Sustainability for Nikwax, said, “1% for people and planet is about giving back. Nikwax has been here for 45 years and it will still be here in another 45 years’ time, which is why we want to do our best to protect the great outdoors for generations to come. To ensure continuity, Nick and his family will be involved in choosing the projects and organisations we support, giving us the chance to preserve our founding values into the future.”

Watch this space. With so much already achieved, and the buzzing enthusiasm of the work force, where will we, at Nikwax, go next?

 

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Nikwax celebrates presentation of Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development 2014

On Friday 7th November Nikwax was officially presented with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development 2014, in a ceremony led by HM Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, on behalf of her Majesty the Queen.

The photo above shows our Managing Director, Nick Brown, being presented the award by HM Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field.

All 165 employees, plus our distributors from across the globe, were invited to the award ceremony, held at Salomons Estate in Kent, close to the Nikwax Head Office.

Nikwax Event - The Queen's Award for Enterprise Sustainable Deve

(Above) Group shot of employees and distributors that attended the ceremony

The prestigious award reflects the company’s achievements within Sustainable Development, which include: reducing environmental impact, educating local schools on sustainability, and providing a grants programme to aid environmental projects.

Nikwax Event - The Queen's Award for Enterprise Sustainable Deve

(Above) THE Award!

It is the fourth Queen’s Award that Nikwax has won. This award is particularly meaningful because we do everything we can to protect our outdoor environment for all to enjoy both now and in the future. The award recognises our hard work, effort and continued commitment towards this. Our previous Queen’s Awards were for International Trade (2004), and Export Achievement (1996 & 1999).

Nikwax Event - The Queen's Award for Enterprise Sustainable Deve

(Above left to right) Chairman of East Sussex County Council, Councillor Colin Belsey; the Deputy Lieutenant, Mr Michael Chowen; Nikwax Managing Director, Nick Brown; Environmental Director, Jon Nash; and HM Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field

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Nikwax becomes ‘Sustaining Member’ of EOCA

Nikwax is proud to be a member of the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA), and our commitment to the cause was further underlined by becoming one of the first ‘Sustaining Members’ at OutDoor in Friedrichshafen, Germany this July.

EOCA is an organisation that uses its membership fees to fund and support environmental causes around the world. 100% of fees from EOCA go towards the support of its projects. In the past 18 months, EOCA has gone through tremendous growth, increasing by 53%, which will be carefully managed so it can be sustained over a long period.

The new Sustaining Members have pledged an extra €10,000 to the association in terms of support per year for the next three years, which is on top of their annual membership fees.

As a result of the new initiative, EOCA will now be able to create a second funding round per year, therefore increasing the money being put back into the environment every year.

Nikwax founder Nick Brown, who is also EOCA Vice President and Advisor, said of Nikwax’s EOCA membership: “Nikwax is involved with EOCA because we believe that conservation is a crucially important part of building a sustainable future for our business and our stakeholders. The Outdoor Industry depends upon the naturally wild environment for its very existence, and so it makes total sense to help conserve it.”

Alongside Nikwax, the other companies to become Sustaining Members were: OutDoor (Messe Friedrichshafen), Pertex, KEEN Footwear, ISPO (Messe München), Patagonia and the European Outdoor Group (EOG).

The declaration was signed at the recent OutDoor international press conference in Friedrichshafen, where Nikwax was also one of the exhibitors with an indoor stand and an outdoor footwear care clinic. Nikwax CEO, Nick Brown, held a press conference at the show to discuss the new Nikwax Fleece and Nikwax Windproof PFC-treatment-free Fabrics, fielding questions from those present on the newest technology on the market.

For more information on the new ‘Sustaining Members’ of EOCA, click here.

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Nikwax adapts for abrupt climate change

The weather has gone completely mad and protective clothing needs to adapt: Nikwax brings new, “Nikwax Fleece & Windproof system” two-part, PFC treatment free waterproof clothing technology to adapt to abrupt climate change

Recent years have seen highly variable weather in the UK:  the 2012 drought and the greatest downpour in 250 years accompanied by widespread flooding over last winter [2013/2014].  What does this mean?  The seasons are now much less predictable than they were and changes are coming fast.

For outdoor wear this means versatility and the ability for our gear to change with the weather.  Enter, the Nikwax Fleece & Windproof system, a dual water-resistant fabric system that provides the absolute optimum flexibility and versatility. 

Nikwax Fleece fabrics, on their own, offer protection against mist and humidity, whilst remaining cool because of their high air permeability and exceptional breathability.  So the fleece will work, depending upon your activity level, and wind levels, at a temperature range below zero to + 15 degrees C.

Nikwax Windproof Fabrics will cut out a gale force wind, and can be used on their own with a base layer to protect against summer showers and squalls. The temperature range is zero to 25 degrees C.

The Nikwax Fleece & Windproof combination gives full waterproof protection for up to five hours of heavy rainfall (rain room tested) and extends the temperature range of the combination to -10 to +15 degrees C.

All of this is achieved with a pair of jackets that together weigh less than a kilo. Added benefits of the system are that it’s PFC treatment free, made from 100 percent polyester and is therefore recyclable, and its waterproofing can be restored indefinitely in the washing machine by using a Nikwax care product.

With the weather becoming increasingly unpredictable, there’s a need for maximum protection for minimum weight. Nick Brown, CEO of Nikwax said, “The Nikwax Fleece & Windproof combination will take you through the broadest range of weather challenges. I have used it in both the Himalayas and the Andes, where climbing 2,000 metres can change the ambient temperature from 25 to zero degrees, in one day. However, I also use it for low level walks in spring and autumn, when I know that the weather is going to be unpredictable and I want to be able to stay cool, yet have real weather protection when I need it.”  He adds “By combining the practical versatility with the extreme durability of the system, and the ability to recycle it, I think we have something that is entirely appropriate to modern outdoor challenges.”

The Nikwax Fleece & Windproof system is currently available through the Páramo brand (www.paramo-clothing.com). Nikwax hopes that as the concept becomes more accepted, it will be adopted by other outdoor companies.