EMPLOYEE OWNERSHIP TAKES BRIGHT ASCENSION TO INFINITY AND BEYOND

Dundee and Edinburgh based experts in space technology, Bright Ascension, which specialises in software products and services for satellites, has recently announced its plans to become Scotland’s latest employee owned business. 

The company, which was instrumental in the workings of the first ever Scottish satellite to rocket its way to space in 2014, was founded five and a half years ago by Dr Peter Mendham.  Dr Mendham recognised the potential for creating a business specialising in software for satellite development, mission control and operations.  Bright Ascension now has a workforce of nine staff and had a turnover of £314,000 last year, including profits of £27,000.

Dr Mark McCrum, who joined Bright Ascension a year after it started and is now technical director, discusses the decision to move to employee ownership and his experience of the transition…

Bright Ascension company, Edinburgh, 14/03/2017: Bright Ascension founder director Peter Mendham (correct, bottom), with technical director / software engineer Mark McCram and a satellite launch control board. Photography for Cooperative Development Scotland / Scottish Enterprise from:  Colin Hattersley Photography - colinhattersley@btinternet.com - www.colinhattersley.com - 07974 957 388

Dr Mark McCrum, technical director at Bright Ascension

In order to help meet plans for growth and to continue developing and creating innovative products, we started investigating the possibility of employee ownership in 2013 through an initial consultation with Co-operative Development Scotland.

We met with a CDS advisor who explained employee ownership and that this might open up investment opportunities for the business. CDS introduced us to Capital for Colleagues, an investment vehicle focused on employee ownership and an appropriate package was developed.

As well as the need for investment we were interested in employee ownership because it seems like the fairest way to structure the ownership of a company. In order to build a world class company we need to attract, retain, motivate and harness the best talent in the field and adopting an employee ownership model allows us to do that.

Our staff have been receptive and enthusiastic to the changes so we are currently in the process of setting up an Employee Benefit Trust with an initial 20% holding of the company. The shares are being gifted by the current owners which is happening in conjunction with an investment by Capital for Colleagues.

Bright Ascension company, Edinburgh, 14/03/2017: Bright Ascension founder director Peter Mendham (correct, centre left) and technical director / software engineer Mark McCrum (centre right), with software engineers Alex Mason (left) and Ed Willson (correct). Photography for Cooperative Development Scotland / Scottish Enterprise from:  Colin Hattersley Photography - colinhattersley@btinternet.com - www.colinhattersley.com - 07974 957 388

The Bright Ascension team

Before moving to employee ownership, our main priorities were to upscale the business by attracting investment and then fully engage our employees to drive performance within it. Employee ownership has allowed us to achieve both of these goals and all nine of our staff members now have a meaningful stake in their company and its future success.

CDS provided invaluable guidance and support to Bright Ascension throughout the employee ownership transition. If you would like to find out more about how your business could benefit from employee ownership in the same way that Bright Ascencion has, please get in touch with one of our expert advisers who will be happy to help.

WINNERS OF COLLABORATION PRIZE ANNOUNCED

Six new Scottish consortia are celebrating after winning a share of the £60,000 Collaboration Prize.

Launched for entries in September 2016, the Collaboration Prize attracted a record number of responses from across Scotland.  It was delivered by Co-operative Development Scotland on behalf of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Island Enterprise in partnership with Business Gateway and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

Each of the winning collaborations will receive £5,000 to implement their collaborative idea, advice to set up as a consortium co-operative, up to £5,000 business support and export advisor support where appropriate. 

Below Co-operative Development Scotland director Sarah Deas gives a brief introduction to each of our winners and a summary of their collaborative idea. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at each of our winning collaborations and learning more about their plans for the future.

Accessing new and international markets was a specific focus of this year’s competition and we awarded two of the six prizes to consortia which demonstrated particularly strong international ambitions to be delivered via the collaboration.

Made in Scotland, which has members across the country, is a collaboration of eleven Scottish companies involved in the food and drink sector.  The consortium offers a range of products including salmon, cheese, cakes and charcuterie as well as craft gin, craft beer and whisky. The collaboration will enable member businesses to offer the basket of Scottish produce to lucrative overseas markets by pooling together their resources and experience, both intellectually and financially.

Made In Scotland Collaborative Export Solutions team members

We spoke to Willie Cameron from Made in Scotland on winning the Prize and he said:  “It is fantastic news to hear we have been successful. The money and support will enable us to access expert advice on marketing food and drink on a global scale, as well as allowing us to develop our brand and create a website with e-commerce functionality. This will help us to really get our name and offering out there on a magnitude that would be far more difficult for us to achieve as individual companies.

“Not only does working together enable us to reach an international customer base as a whole, it also encourages us to support each other by highlighting new opportunities that we think will benefit individual members.  By continuing to collaborate, we aim to further boost Scotland’s global reputation as a producer of some of the finest food and drink in the world, hopefully attracting more of the country’s like-minded, quality producers to join us along the way.”

We also caught up with Paul Fennon from Look Team about how winning the prize. He said: “The cash and support will help us achieve a number of goals, beginning with in-depth research of the global sporting events market and investigating the best way to scale our operation internationally. The commission of a bespoke Inventory Management System for managing and tracking event Kit of Parts (KOP) will help us to streamline our services and increase efficiency, giving us a competitive edge when tendering for contracts. We also plan to get in front of the right people by identifying and attending major international trade shows, allowing us to forge potentially lucrative relationships and explore significant business development opportunities.

Look (Branding & Application) L-R Andrew Stevenson, Paul Fennon

“Forming the consortium enables us to deliver a unique service which is usually provided by two distinct companies. Working so closely together means we can combine our expertise and push creative and technical boundaries in ways that others in our field don’t. Having achieved a significant degree of success on a national level, our ambition now is to mirror that success internationally and we look forward to the doors that collaboration will open.”

The response to this year’s competition has been fantastic and as a result we have six brilliant winning consortia, all of whom will be using the support and funding they won to structure their consortiums, develop their business ideas and access new markets.

Through the Prize the aim is to inspire businesses to be innovative and consider collaboration as a means to achieve growth.  By collaborating businesses can reduce costs, share risks and create new platforms for growth.

The other Collaboration Prize winners were:

Healthworks Consortium, L-R Niall Gosman, Marney Ackroyd, Karen Davidson, Kevin Dewar

  • Healthworks: a team of health and wellbeing professionals that have come together to help businesses optimise their employee’s physical, psychological and personal wellbeing. The new venture will create innovative, bespoke health and wellbeing services that are truly integrated.Startup Drinks Coop Scotland, L-R Hannah Fisher, Paul Strachan
  • The Start-Up Drinks Lab: a collaboration by two innovative soft drink businesses who aim to work together to solve manufacturing challenges faced by drinks entrepreneurs in Scotland. The focus is to establish accessible manufacturing facilities that meet the small scale production requirements of start-up drink businesses.Terrier Risk Partners, L-R Tom Inglis, Alison Stone, Chris Knight
  • Terrier Risk Partners: three experienced businesses coming together to provide cyber security solutions allowing them to tender for larger contracts such as the opportunities offered by the Scottish Government and partners, such as the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband.  Their joint expertise includes risk assessment, business continuity, protection and recovery.Offsite Hub (Scotland)
  • Offsite Hub: This collaboration comprises nine companies involved in off-site construction. Following the UK Government’s 2025 Construction Strategy identifying off-site construction as a vehicle for delivering improvement targets for the construction sector, the Off-Site Hub Scotland was formed to promote improved market awareness, address emerging skills challenges and to foster a collective approach to ongoing research & development in the use of timber construction technology.

 

Attracting and Retaining Staff Through the Employee Ownership Model

Beyond salary, what can businesses offer to entice new employees and make them stay?

Our director Sarah Deas explains how the employee ownership model, and the many benefits it brings, can be a great attraction for prospective employees and an effective means of inspiring, engaging and rewarding existing employees.

11/12/15 - 15112301 - SCOTTISH ENTERPRISEGLASGOWSarah Deas

“Statistics consistently demonstrate that employee-owned businesses outperform their non EO counterparts in terms of increased productivity, higher levels of profitability and improved business resilience during times of recession.   Feeling truly part of a business and sharing in its success undoubtedly helps employees feel engaged and valued.  It attracts new talent and limits staff turnover.  Clients also benefit from enhanced customer service.

 “Interestingly, recent research reveals that millennials value many characteristics of the employee ownership business model, such as profit sharing and personal development, more than previous generations *.

 “The employee ownership model is suited to any organisation, large or small, at any stage of its development and in many different sectors.   Key employee-owned businesses in Scotland include: John Lewis Partnership, Aquascot and Novograf.

“Succession is often a catalyst for adopting employee ownership, as business owners look to exit and get a return on their investment but want to safeguard valued employees and ensure their business stays rooted in the local community.    

 “We are seeing a growth of interest in employee ownership year-on-year, keeping us on track for achieving our aspiration of a tenfold increase in employee-owned businesses in Scotland over a ten year period.  Since 2009, the number of employee-owned businesses headquartered in Scotland has more than tripled.

  “Support is available to businesses looking to adopt this model.  This is delivered by specialist advisers who help owners decide on the best model of employee ownership for their businesses.  They undertake a feasibility study and provide a written report outlining potential ownership structures, governance systems, engagement mechanisms and funding options.  This allows owners to decide whether to proceed to implementation of an employee ownership structure.

 “Should the EO Feasibility Study convince clients to proceed with a project then CDS can provide partial grant support for advisory work associated with the transition process.”

 * (Source:  ‘Busting the Millennial Myth – the Power of Purpose’, Fieldfisher and the eaga Trust).

If you would like to learn more about how employee ownership could benefit your business, please get in touch and have a chat with our expert advisers.

Collaborate to access new markets

Karen McLeod manages the export advisory service at Scottish Enterprise, providing support to help Scottish Businesses trade overseas.

Last year a record number of Scottish businesses, large and small, started thinking globally and branched out overseas.  We spoke to Karen to find out why it’s important to consider selling internationally and the ways in which you can do it successfully.

Why is exporting important? 

Overseas markets have become increasingly important to the Scottish economy and in 2014 Scotland’s international exports were valued at £27.5 billion*, a 17.3% increase from 2010.

Our research shows that many overseas markets are underserved and there is demand for Scottish products and services internationally. This, paired with the fact that SDI supported 2,500 businesses to export last year, shows that there is opportunity and the ambition for exporting to continue to grow.

What are the benefits?

Trading abroad can boost your profile, credibility and bottom line.  That applies whether you’re trading with established markets such as the EU and USA, or high-growth markets like Brazil, China, India, Colombia and Vietnam.

International markets like these offer you access to new customers, revenue and ideas. Crucially, they enable you to spread your business risk, increase the commercial lifespan of your products and services and secure economies of scale which are not always possible at home. In fact, exporting is now considered essential for Scottish businesses that want to safeguard future growth.

The figures are compelling, showing that those firms that choose to export become 34% more productive in their first year** while those already exporting achieve 59% faster productivity growth than non-exporters**, positively impacting on staffing and financial performance.

Doing business overseas brings further benefits such as fostering ideas for new products and services. Once a company has ‘dipped their toe’ into a new market this in turn tends to increase confidence and ambition and provides the momentum for further growth through exporting.

What are the barriers and how can you overcome them?

Exporting can seem daunting to smaller businesses and the thought of going it alone can often be off putting and seen as high risk.  Collaborating with others can be a way to address those risks and make the most of the opportunities that exporting brings.

Collaboration for international markets

Businesses can collaborate using the consortium co-operative business model. This model allows businesses to come together for a shared purpose; to buy or sell in scale, market more effectively, share facilities or jointly bid for contracts.

There are good examples of Scottish consortiums already collaborating on international strategy.  Examples of shared activities include creation of a portfolio brand for export, consolidated shipping and a joint e-commerce activity.

To find out more about the support available to help you collaborate and access international markets please visit www.scottish-enterprise.com/collaboration

Sources:
*Scottish Government Export Statistics Scotland 2014 publication
**UK Government UK Trade & Investment research publication – Bringing home the benefits: how to grow through exporting

Employee ownership is the perfect fit for Bentleys

Bespoke joinery manufacturer and interior fit-out specialist, Bentleys Shopfitting Ltd, is the latest business in Scotland to adopt an employee ownership model.

Established in 1987, the Dundee-based company specialises in the management and completion of interior fit-out projects, creating high quality bespoke furnishings at its in-house manufacturing facility.

Bentleys Shopfitting Ltd, Dundee

Bentleys Shopfitting Ltd, Dundee

It has evolved from specialising in the retail sector to expanding its expertise across the education, leisure, hospitality, corporate, residential and oil and gas sectors, with notable projects including The Old Course Hotel and Spa in St Andrews, Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder and the Balmoral and Sheraton Grand Hotels in Edinburgh.

With turnover in the current financial year expected to exceed £8m, Bentleys’ three directors were keen to continue the trend in growth since the recession.

CDS guided and supported Bentley’s transition to employee ownership, providing expert advice on the implementation of the new ownership structure. Director Sarah Deas said: “2016 has been a tremendous year for transitions to employee ownership as more companies recognise its effectiveness in harnessing the effort of employees, preserving company ethos and rooting businesses in the local area. It’s an exciting time for Bentleys and I wish the company well as it joins the thriving and dynamic EO community.”

Managing director Alan Walker discussed why the company decided make its transition to EO:  “We wanted a succession plan which would allow us to continue in the business over a period of years whilst supporting a management team that will continue to drive the business forward.

“The involvement of all employees in the ownership of the business will be a major boost going forward.  In addition to our 50 staff we have a network of local suppliers and subcontractors who rely on our business. Other options were considered but the priority of the board was to ensure the business remained local.

Bentleys Shopfitting Ltd, Dundee photographer Fraser Band     07984 163 256 www.fraserband.co.uk

An Employee Ownership Trust will now buy the shares from the shareholders and hold these on behalf of the employees.  Tax incentives will be available to allow the employees to invest in the company.

If you would like to learn more about how employee ownership could benefit your business, please get in touch and have a chat with our expert advisers.

Collaborate to access new markets

Karen McLeod manages the export advisory service at Scottish Development International (SDI), the international arm of Scottish Enterprise.  SDI offers support to help Scottish Businesses trade overseas

Last year a record number of Scottish businesses, large and small, started thinking globally and branched out overseas.  We spoke to Karen to find out why it’s important to consider selling internationally and the ways in which you can do it successfully.

Why is exporting important? 

Overseas markets have become increasingly important to the Scottish economy and in 2014 Scotland’s international exports were valued at £27.5 billion*, a 17.3% increase from 2010.

Our research shows that many overseas markets are underserved and there is demand for Scottish products and services internationally. This, paired with the fact that SDI supported 2,500 businesses to export last year, shows that there is opportunity and the ambition for exporting to continue to grow.

What are the benefits?

Trading abroad can boost your profile, credibility and bottom line.  That applies whether you’re trading with established markets such as the EU and USA, or high-growth markets like Brazil, China, India, Colombia and Vietnam.

International markets like these offer you access to new customers, revenue and ideas. Crucially, they enable you to spread your business risk, increase the commercial lifespan of your products and services and secure economies of scale which are not always possible at home. In fact, exporting is now considered essential for Scottish businesses that want to safeguard future growth.

The figures are compelling, showing that those firms that choose to export become 34% more productive in their first year** while those already exporting achieve 59% faster productivity growth than non-exporters**, positively impacting on staffing and financial performance.

Doing business overseas brings further benefits such as fostering ideas for new products and services. Once a company has ‘dipped their toe’ into a new market this in turn tends to increase confidence and ambition and provides the momentum for further growth through exporting.

What are the barriers and how can you overcome them?

Exporting can seem daunting to smaller businesses and the thought of going it alone can often be off putting and seen as high risk.  Collaborating with others can be a way to address those risks and make the most of the opportunities that exporting brings.

Collaboration for international markets

Businesses can collaborate using the consortium co-operative business model. This model allows businesses to come together for a shared purpose; to buy or sell in scale, market more effectively, share facilities or jointly bid for contracts.

There are good examples of Scottish consortiums already collaborating on international strategy.  Examples of shared activities include creation of a portfolio brand for export, consolidated shipping and a joint e-commerce activity.

Winning support with the Collaboration Prize

We are supporting this year’s Collaboration Prize which encourages firms to think collaboratively and pitch an idea for a new collaborative enterprise that will help them to access new markets. This could be a new sector or a geographical market including international markets.

The winners selected by the judging panel will receive £5,000 (to implement their collaborative idea), support to set up as a consortium co-operative, up to £5,000 business support (delivered by Scottish Enterprise or Highlands and Islands Enterprise) and access to export advisor support from my team.  This includes a wide variety of services such as:

  • an export advisory service, backed by international trade advisers, offering tailored support and guidance;
  • online tools to help you create an export plan;
  • and business intelligence from 43 global offices as well as events to explore opportunities and network with valuable contacts.

The Collaboration Prize is being delivered by Co-operative Development Scotland on behalf of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Island Enterprise in partnership with Business Gateway and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

 

Sources:

*Scottish Government Export Statistics Scotland 2014 publication – click here to read.

**UK Government UK Trade & Investment research publication – Bringing home the benefits: how to grow through exporting click here to read.

Collaboration: a step-by-step guide

Jaye Martin, CDS specialist advisor

Collaborating with others can be a highly effective way for a business to achieve growth, access new markets and drive innovation whilst sharing the associated costs and risks.

The Scottish Enterprise Collaboration Prize 2016/17 is currently open for entries and aims to raise awareness of the collaboration route among Scottish businesses.

The Prize is a fantastic opportunity for aspiring collaborators, and exploring the prospective benefits of forming or joining a consortium is highly encouraged in order to help businesses of all sizes reach their full potential.

However, when it comes to forming or joining a consortium, what should a business consider? How does the process work and what are the specific benefits that can be delivered?

Here, CDS specialist advisor Jaye Martin shares a brief step-by-step guide to consortium working to help you determine whether or not collaboration is right for your business.

Step 1: Identify barriers to growth

For many small and micro-enterprises, lack of scale, time, finance or resources can all be barriers to accessing new markets, tendering for larger contracts or simply marketing services, and therefore barriers to growth.  These challenges will be familiar to many businesses, particularly those with small teams or those who provide unique or niche products and services.

Step 2: Look for a potential solution

Teaming up with other like-minded businesses and forming a consortium is an excellent way to break down these barriers. Suitable for businesses of all sizes operating in any sector, this model can help businesses grow by reducing the costs and risks associated with tackling new markets and investing in new products and services. It can also enable businesses to share resources such as back office functions and premises. Meanwhile, member businesses are able to retain their own brands, independence and control. You can find out more here.

Step 3: Find collaborators

Carefully identifying like-minded businesses to work with is crucial. Trust is a key factor. It can help if the businesses have worked together informally before. In most cases, member businesses operate in similar or complementary fields, although a lot will depend on the rationale for collaboration. You can read about the experience of a number of successful consortia here.

Step 4: Choose the right structure

The consortium co-operative model is an effective collaborative business structure. In simple terms it is an organisation run in a shared and equal way by and for the benefit of its members. Members are independent businesses and the consortium can be for any purpose which supports them, for example marketing, tendering, innovating or exporting. Co-operative Development Scotland has a track record in helping businesses and we’d be happy to help you explore the options. You can contact us here.

Step 5: Benefit from your collaboration

Collaborating can be a real game-changer for businesses. For example, one of last year’s Collaboration Prize winners, Ecosse from Above, was founded by three aerial photography companies and a web developer who wanted to create an online library providing high-quality aerial footage and images of Scotland at a reduced cost. Ecosse from Above has since built a library of over 5,000 high quality images and 500 affordable films from across the Scottish landscape which has grabbed the attention of tourism bodies such as VisitScotland as well as television and video production companies from all over the world.

Fellow winner ArchBlue Ltd, was founded by four organisations involved in providing complementary services to the heritage sector including 3D measuring and modelling, archaeological recording and visualisation, conservation planning and 3D printing. Working collaboratively has enabled the businesses to provide customers with a comprehensive approach to heritage site management as well as engaging methods of communicating a site’s story to the public. The consortium used its prize winnings to add strength to tender submissions and establish a brand identity.

As well as supporting businesses to access new markets, share risks and costs and develop new products or services, many businesses involved in consortium working also report increased confidence, better business connections, improved knowledge-sharing and an enhanced profile.

The benefits are tangible and numerous – and definitely worth exploring when considering the future of your business.

For more information about the Collaboration Prize, including how to enter and requesting an application pack, visit here.

Climbing to success with employee ownership

Peter Will, managing director of Tayplay

Scotland’s latest business to become employee-owned is Perth-based Tayplay, a manufacturer of rope, playground and climbing equipment for the playground and leisure industry. Since it was founded in 1994, it has developed into the UK’s leading supplier of rope playground equipment, shipping hundreds of products worldwide and turning over £2million annually.

Last month’s move to an employee-ownership model has seen Tayplay’s 14 members of staff given the opportunity to become owners in the business. Managing director Peter Will discusses why the company decided to go down the EO route and shares his experiences of the transition process. 

Following the recession we experienced a difficult trading period and we were considering a trade sale.  However, we could not agree terms and after a strategic review we decided to look more closely at the employee ownership business model.  Co-operative Development Scotland then conducted a feasibility study and we quickly discovered employee ownership ticked all of our boxes.  No other options were even seriously considered at that stage.

Our EO journey started in 2014 and so far we have been able to meet all of our targets in terms of the sale price, timescales and the fact we’ve been able to retain the business in Perth.  EO is the ideal solution for retiring owners who want to preserve the ethos of the business and retain employment locally.  It is also a reward for the staff as we wanted to recognise the contribution and commitment they’ve made to the company’s success.

An Employee Ownership Trust has acquired a controlling interest in the company and will hold these shares on behalf of the employees, with the view that our employees will eventually own 100% of the company.

We spent quite a bit of time working with specialist advisors at CDS, undertaking meetings with the staff to help them understand the concept of employee ownership.  Our employees now really believe in the new model and we expect the degree of buy-in to increase now that the deal has gone through.  As the employees begin to see and feel the reality of EO we expect their commitment to the company will grow and it will make recruitment easier.

The Tayplay team

CDS guided and supported Tayplay’s transition to employee ownership, providing expert advice on the implementation of the new ownership structure. If you would like to learn more about how employee-ownership could benefit your business, please get in touch and our expert advisers will be happy to chat with you.

Happy partners make for better business at John Lewis Partnership

David Jones started working for John Lewis Partnership as a Graduate Trainee in 1982. Since then he has held a number of roles, including running several Waitrose stores and some time as Waitrose’s Supply Chain Director.  His current role is Partnership Registrar, in which he is tasked with ensuring the business upholds the principles of the partnership. David gives some background to the Partnership’s employee ownership model, and how putting the happiness of the partners first makes for better business.

david-jones-by-jeff-hopkins-resized

David Jones, John Lewis Partnership

“John Lewis Partnership has not always been employee-owned.  The son of the founder, John Spedan Lewis, decided it was unacceptable that his family made more from the business than all other employees combined. His objection wasn’t just moral; he felt it was bad for business.

Spedan’s view was that if he created a more successful business that reinvested in itself, took a long term view, gave everybody a voice in how it was run, and actively contributed more to community and society, then more people would want to spend money in his shops.   In 1929, he sold his shares to a trust, that would hold the shares on the employees’ behalf, and he was repaid for these shares over the next 30 years.

John Lewis Partnership now has almost 400 shops, 90,000 employees and gross annual sales of over £11 billion.  The Partnership employs 3200 people in Scotland. There are seven Waitrose stores as well as John Lewis shops in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.  We also have a customer contact centre in Hamilton.  We support many Scottish companies in our supply chain.  Quality of produce is paramount for Waitrose, and we are pleased to support many Scottish producers. Indeed, Stoat’s Porridge and Mo’s Cookie Dough are two Scottish companies who started out selling products in Waitrose, and have gone on to be national businesses.  We build long term strategic partnerships with our suppliers, and are proud to have been working closely with Aquascot so closely for many years.  I’m thrilled the firm has also adopted the employee ownership model.

As Partners in the business, our employees share the rights and responsibilities that employee ownership entails. This doesn’t mean that everyone is involved in every decision the business makes – we couldn’t function like that.  What it means is that they hold our leadership to account for the decisions they take.  We have 5 employees elected to our Partnership Board. These employees do not have management or executive responsibilities; they are there to provide the link with our partners and to test and probe the management. We have a democratically elected Partnership Council that ensures the business is run for and on behalf of the partners. The Council shares the views of the Partners on key issues and makes recommendations on policy.   The Partnership Council has the authority to remove the Chairman – although I’m pleased to say this has never happened!

Our Partners are rewarded for their commitment. The Partnership’s profit , after investment is distributed to Partners. This can be through pay, discounts subsidised leisure or learning. Each year we announce our annual bonus, which in 2016 amounted to 5 weeks’ salary for each Partner. Fairness is a key value and each member of staff receives the same percentage of salary in their company bonus. The same bonus is paid to employees whether they work in John Lewis, Waitrose or one of the other companies.  If John Lewis has a bad year, and Waitrose do exceptionally well, one balances the other.  This is the dual strength of our model.

John Lewis Partnership can never be sold, which gives us a powerful competitive advantage.  Because we have no option to sell our shares and invest elsewhere, each of our 90,000 partners has a strong incentive to throw all their energy and passion into making this year better than the last.

And it works. In a ferociously competitive sector, where we’ve seen the demise of high street brands such as Woolworths, BHS, Comet and others, we have not only survived, we’ve thrived.  Employee ownership is fundamental to our commercial success.  If we are to build a more diverse, sustainable and inclusive economy, we need to see more companies choose employee ownership.“

David Jones is speaking at a breakfast seminar on 20th October 2016 hosted by Highlands and Islands Enterprise at their Inverness offices. More information can be found here.

The Collaboration Prize is now open for entries


collabprize-1617-logo
Scottish Enterprise director Sarah Deas discusses the Collaboration Prize and why businesses should enter.

We are pleased to announce that the Collaboration Prize 2016/17 in partnership with Business Gateway and Scottish Chamber of Commerce is now open for entries.

We want to encourage firms to think collaboratively and pitch an idea for a new enterprise that will help them to access new markets. This could be a new sector or a geographical market including international markets. With the winning entrants receiving £5,000 cash and up to £5,000 business support to bring their idea to life.

To be eligible to win businesses must be based in Scotland, have an innovative idea they would like to implement by setting up a consortium co-operative and have identified other like-minded members for the consortium.

Consortia are established when businesses come together for a shared purpose; to buy or sell in scale, market more effectively, share facilities or jointly bid for contracts.  By collaborating businesses can reduce costs, share risks and create new platforms for growth.  Members could be businesses, partnerships or individuals, and the co-operative may be for any purpose which supports the members.

The competition this year has a particular focus on consortia accessing new and international markets. Two of the five prizes will be awarded to those consortia who demonstrate strong international ambitions to be delivered using collaboration. As part of their prize the winners will be able to access export advisor support where appropriate.

At CDS we think the Prize offers a great opportunity for businesses to harness the benefits that emerge through collaboration. Working with others can help businesses grow, and reduce the costs and risks of tackling new markets or investing in new processes.

In our experience collaboration can make a company better at what it does. Whether it’s about sharing resources or finding new markets, collaboration can bring efficiency and lead to increased profits.

For more information about the Scottish Enterprise Collaboration Prize visit the website.