SS Great Britain – Case Study

SS Great Britain – Case Study

The Challenge

The SS Great Britain Trust, a registered charity, conserves this magnificent, award-winning tourist attraction: the first iron steam ship to cross the Atlantic, in 1845.

The trust and its trading subsidiary employs over 70 staff and is supported by 50 volunteers. Their decision in 2009 to extend the finance manager’s role created a need for a viable alternative to running an in-house payroll department. Cox & Co have managed their payroll ever since…

Angela Spreadbury, director of finance and resources at SS Great Britain Trust explains the decision to outsource their payroll and how Cox & Co. exceeded their expectations


Our finance manager, Tracey Milner, used to run our payroll in-house using a well-known software package. But with over 70 staff and four separate payrolls, including two which are run weekly, there were always lots of changes to make. It was complex, time consuming and seemingly endless. This inevitably led to other tasks being delayed, which was detrimental not only to the business but also to Tracey’s professional development. She just didn’t have time to take on any new challenges.

We initially thought our payroll was far too complicated and intricate to be outsourced but our auditors had always favoured a separation between payroll and accounts. Changes in the business made it an ideal time to explore ways of simplifying the process.

We invited Cox & Co. in for a discussion because they are Bristol-based and specialise in charity payroll. Their approach really impressed us. We felt comfortable with their staff and, from the outset, trusted them to become our business partners.

The years have gone by and we haven’t looked back. We have a great relationship with the staff at Cox & Co. and benefit from regular face-to-face meetings. We often consult them on HR issues, too. Importantly, Tracey has been able to excel in her role because she is no longer overwhelmed with payroll interruptions.