Former CEO takes Versarien to court
By David Wood | 7th February 2024
Neill Ricketts, the founder and former CEO of Versarien, is involved in a legal wrangle with the company.
Mr Ricketts, who famously founded the Forest of Dean-based advanced materials engineering company from his garage in 2010, resigned as CEO last March in a shock move.
Today Versarien issued a statement announcing it had "received various unquantified claims under the Employment Rights Act 1996 against the company and its directors made by Neill Ricketts, a former director of the company".
The statement said a preliminary hearing for case management had been scheduled for 17 July 2024.
It added: "The company and its directors intend to vigorously defend the claims and are taking legal advice.
"A further announcement will be made in due course as appropriate."
Mr Ricketts told Punchline this morning: "It was a bit of a surprise to see an announcement, I didn't know it was coming out - but I look forward to updating you as soon as I can. It's sad that it's come to this stage."
After Mr Ricketts founded Versarien, the company grew rapidly after floating on the London Stock Exchange in 2013, moving to a base at Staverton and then to a new headquarters at Longhope Business Park in the Forest of Dean a few years ago.
Versarien famously raised £3 million in 20 minutes on AIM in November 2017 as investors scrambled to buy its shares.
However, the company has been through choppy waters in recent times and in the past few months has attempted to raise additional funds through the placing of shares.. Last October Versarien announced it had slimmed down its research and development team 'significantly' due to cost-cutting.
Mr Ricketts is a well known local businessman and in 2020 was appointed chair of the Forest of Dean Economic Partnership. He also served on the board of GFirst LEP for a 10-year term.
During a Big Interview with Punchline editor Mark Owen, he described how he had originally set up Versarien in his garage after becoming disillusioned with his nine-to-five job where he had 750 people working for him.
When the company floated on the London Stock Exchange, Mr Ricketts said many people thought they were 'crazy'.
He added: "It was a big risk and a big ambition but the team pulled together and we did it but it wasn't easy. And we're starting to see the rewards of that."
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