Research carried out by Women’s Enterprise Scotland shows that women-led businesses contribute more than £5 billion towards the Scottish economy, and that if rates of women-led businesses equalled that of men, the contribution to Scotland’s GVA would increase to £13 billion. Therefore, it’s encouraging that the past few years have seen a rise in the number of female-fronted businesses in the employee ownership sector, with several of the businesses transitioning to EO being owned or run by women.
We caught up with our director Sarah Deas to hear about some examples.
“One of Scotland’s most prominent EO businesses being run by a woman is Arran’s award-winning Auchrannie Resort. Established by Iain and Linda Johnston in 1988, it became employee-owned in December 2017, with 160 members of staff becoming owners. Linda has led the company as managing director and board chair since 2010.
“With two 4-star hotels, 30 5-star self-catering lodges, two leisure clubs, three restaurants, an ASPA spa and Arran Adventure outdoor company, Linda and Iain had cultivated a hugely successful business. When considering her succession options, it was important to Linda that the ethos of the company, the existing team, and the community use of Auchrannie’s facilities for the future was protected.
“Those were the drivers in deciding that employee ownership was the way forward for the company, and the new ownership structure means that her team now plays a huge part in shaping and influencing the future success of Auchrannie.
“Another Scottish business which has adopted the EO model in recent years is Doune-based Harvey Maps, a professional mapmaking service for the sport of orienteering. Founded 40 years ago by Robin Harvey MBE and Susan Harvey MBE, it is one of a very small number of companies in the UK to generate its own map data, becoming a market leader in maps for outdoor pursuits.
“As Susan considered her exit strategy, she felt it was important that the business they had built up over the years wasn’t swallowed up by a competitor. She decided that EO would give the company the best chance of continued independent existence and success, while retaining jobs locally. The employee buyout saw ten staff given the opportunity to become owners.
“Heading up Glasgow-based architects Page \ Park is Karen Pickering, who was appointed as its chair of the board of directors following its transition to employee ownership. Having served 27 years with the company, her energy and drive to ensure the best possible architectural outcomes has continued in her new leadership.
“She states that becoming employee-owned boosted productivity and increased engagement among staff – team members are no longer ’wage earners’, they are ‘company owners’ and that has brought about greater energy, drive and pride – a great endorsement of the employee ownership model.
“Also benefiting from EO is East Kilbride-based brand-realisation company Novograf. When the founders were considering their succession options, the company was performing well, winning some significant new business. They wanted to ensure this momentum would continue with those who knew the company best.
“Heading up the team of employee owners is managing director Jennifer Riddell–Dillet, who is harnessing the power of a highly engaged and motivated workforce to drive the business forward to further innovation and success.
“Employee ownership has great potential to help drive economic growth and create greater wealth equality in society. It’s great to see such successful, female–led businesses thrive within the sector, and we look forward to the number of women leading the way in EO continuing to grow.
If you have a question or you want to talk about how employee ownership can help you, please get in touch with us here using the ‘expert support’ option.