By Clare Alexander, head of Co-operative Development Scotland
2019 was another busy year for Co-operative Development Scotland, with our team working hard to spread the word about the benefits of co-operative business models and offer expert support and guidance to businesses across Scotland.
We’ve seen an encouraging number of businesses make their move to employee ownership in the last year. In Glasgow, staff at care provider Aspire Housing, construction firm Pacific Building, engineering consultancy Grossart Associates and architectural practice Anderson Bell Christie were all given a stake in the business. In Edinburgh, IT service provider Quorum Network Resources and contemporary art gallery the Scottish Gallery both set up Employee Ownership Trusts.
The founders of GS Brown Precision Engineering in Fife, garden centre New Hopetoun Gardens in West Lothian, IT provider Exmos in Grangemouth and Dundee based demolition contractor Safedem all saw the benefits of selling to their workforce, as did Stornoway production company MacTV and Shetland-based ESPL Regulatory Consulting and Laurence Odie Knitwear.
The employee-owned businesses we have supported in previous years continue to report a range of successes and benefits, from growth in size and profit to having a highly engaged and committed workforce.
In May, we joined forces with the Law Society of Scotland and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) to host our first programme of events aimed at raising awareness of employee ownership among members of the legal, accounting and banking professions. Professional advisers play an important role in informing clients about employee ownership as a business succession model, therefore increasing the number of firms that are able to offer specialist guidance in this area is key to growing employee ownership in Scotland. We were delighted with the amount of interest in the roadshow, with nearly 300 advisers attending.
We also partnered with local authorities, and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and Business Gateway networks to host our “Selling your business?” series of events, which saw representatives of established employee-owned businesses share their experiences of employee ownership with business owners who were at the start of their journey in beginning to explore their succession options.
We also branched out into podcasting – with the launch of our Employee Ownership podcast series in September of last year. Combining essential facts about the model, expert insight from EO advisers and solicitors, and the first-hand experiences of employee-owned businesses, the first eight episodes have been heavily downloaded, and proven to be a valuable and unique resource for those looking to learn more about employee ownership.
We’re very grateful to members of the employee ownership community across the country for their help with all of this activity – their support is vital in helping us promote the employee ownership model among Scotland’s business network. As the popularity of employee-ownership in Scotland continues to grow, so does our pipeline, and we look forward to welcoming more businesses to the community in the year ahead.