How Campari Group introduced their first all-employee share plan
Name: Campari Group
Headquarters: Milan, Italy
Industry: Premium Spirits
Campari Group in Numbers
Employees: ca. 3,800
Years in business: 163
Global manufacturing plants: 23
Countries products distributed in: 190
Founded by liquorist Gaspare Campari in 1860, Campari Group has evolved over the last 160+ years into one of the leading players in the profitable and highly competitive international premium spirits industry.
The company sees itself as being about people and brands, and within this vision there is special recognition for the role of its employees – the Camparistas – the people who build those brands and sustain the positive and productive atmosphere in which they work. This goes to the heart of the internal culture Campari Group actively seeks to build and nurture – with four key values guiding all efforts in this direction: integrity, passion, pragmatism, and togetherness – and it was logical that this would eventually see the company embrace employee ownership.
And so it was that Campari Group partnered with Global Shares in 2021 to launch its first all-employee share plan.
Not least among the challenges involved was the fact that this was Campari’s Group first attempt at an all-employee ESOP. That, in itself, presented a set of logistical issues the company had never needed to grapple with previously.
As well as that, there was the international dimension. Of ca. 3,800 employees spread across 24 countries, 3,200 met the eligibility criteria for the Camparista Shares plan – almost 85% of the total workforce. The initial enrolment period was set for mid-October to mid-December 2021, giving both Campari Group and Global Shares a two-month window to oversee a successful (hopefully!) registration round.
Aside from concerns around tax and regulatory matters in various jurisdictions, the company also faced practical concerns, in that, with offices on multiple continents, inevitably there were going to be varying levels of awareness on employee share plans among different categories of employees in different locations.
So, there was a conscious recognition from early on that the company was going to need to cater to the specific needs of different countries.
Against the backdrop of the concerns outlined above, Campari Group decided to place a huge emphasis on their communications strategy, with a view towards explaining clearly what was being proposed to their people and also to customize content for each country (e.g., presenting material in native languages).
What emerged from this vision was a multi-faceted campaign designed to reach as many people as possible.
To make clear how important the initiative was, a written message from the chairman was distributed among all offices, in which the Camparista Shares plan was described as a “key milestone” and as having “deep meaning” for the company.
As well as that:
- The CEO recorded a video in which he explained why the company was launching an ESOP, as well as giving more detail on the plan itself and its potential benefits.
- Video animations were created and circulated, explaining what was being proposed, and also presenting information on understanding shares and being a shareholder.
- An eight-page booklet was created, going into detail on the plan and how to sign up.
- Information posters were placed in prominent positions in offices and plants.
- A PowerPoint show was created for live presentations. This was used by HR representatives in online or on-site meetings for office-based white-collar employees and plant roadshows for blue collar staff.
For our part, Global Shares also joined the effort to demystify what was being proposed and make the registration process as unintimidating as possible.
- We set up the website for the plan in eight different languages and sent activation emails and enrolment reminders in those languages during the mid-October to mid-December registration period.
- We also provided a facility on the website whereby participants could watch the Campari Group CEO’s video message, delivered in English, with subtitles in the language of their choice.
- For ease of access, we also enabled a single sign-on (SSO) facility, thus avoiding the need to go to a specific URL and provide a username and password.
What about the plan?
The plan itself was the most important part of the jigsaw. Even if a communications campaign ticks every imaginable box, it would still be of little use if what was being proposed was not sufficiently attractive to the target audience, i.e., the employees.
Campari Group understood this from the outset and kept their employees at the forefront of their thoughts throughout the period in which the ESOP was being designed.
During the enrolment process – conducted via our Equity Gateway portal – participating employees had to specify how much of their monthly salary to set aside for the purchase of company shares – 1%, 3%, or 5%. From the outset, accumulated funds are used every quarter to purchase Campari Group shares on behalf of each participant, with individuals free to then choose whether to keep or sell those shares.
There is also a matching element – for every two shares (if an ESOP participant only) or four shares (if also part of the Campari LTIP) purchased, the company gives one additional share – an RSU – for no extra charge, subject to vesting conditions. While individuals are free to sell shares after each quarterly purchasing period, the matching element is used as an incentive to encourage employees to hold those shares for at least three years, when the RSUs vest. At that point, participants can choose to hold, sell, or move shares to another account.
What did success look like?
The key metric on the effectiveness of any share plan designed for all employees is participation rates. The expressed purpose of the plan was to reward as many employees as possible for their ongoing efforts and had the Camparista Shares plan not achieved strong overall participation rates, then that would have been deemed a disappointment.
However, the final count confirmed that by mid-December 2021 more than 51% of eligible participants had signed up through our Equity Gateway online platform. So, more than 1,600 of 3,200 eligible participants all around the world bought into the vision of employee ownership transmitted by the communications plan and expressed a vote of confidence in the future prospects of Campari Group.
The Camparista Shares plan is an ongoing initiative. Last year saw the company offer another opportunity for employees to sign up, with mid-October to mid-December once again the enrolment window. It is expected that the same offer will be made available again later this year.
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All case studies are shown for illustrative purposes only and should not be relied upon as advice or interpreted as a recommendation. They are based on current market conditions that constitute our judgment and are subject to change. Results shown are not meant to be representative of actual results or experience of other individuals. Information is not a guarantee of future results.