The Scottish Co-operative Discovery Centre to celebrate Scottish Co-operative Movement

A community group in West Lothian are on their way to creating the first centre dedicated to the story of the Scottish co-operative movement.

Group of employees from the Co-op Discovery Centre

West Calder & Harburn Community Development Trust (WCHCDT) plans to create a hands-on, experiential, fun discovery & learning centre based around co-operative heritage that will create a nationally recognised attraction with café and event space, boosting local footfall and creating jobs.

To find out more about this exciting project we caught up with Matt Pearce, Trust and Project Manager.

“The history of the co-operative movement is important to our community of West Calder, as well as to others across the country and yet there is currently no dedicated museum in Scotland which explores and celebrates the role that the movement played in creating the society we know today. The former Co-operative Bakery Building in West Calder provides the perfect space to create such a resource.”

“West Calder Co-operative Society was founded in 1875 by a group of miners who had grown weary of being forced to spend their wages in the local mine-owners shop. It went on to become a central part of cultural and economic life in West Lothian. The Discovery Centre aims to celebrate and share that ethos of co-operation in a fun and play focussed way. “Inspiring Co-operation for a better future” is the project motto.”

“Fantastic progress has been made to date and it was really exciting to launch our first community share offer. With a fundraising target of £250,000 the offer will allow people to buy shares in the new project. The minimum investment for local members (those who are resident in the West Calder & Harburn Community Council area) is £10 and the maximum is £25,000 (10% of optimum target).  Shares are £1 each and the target for the local membership share issue is £20,000. A wider share issue with a target of over £200,000 has been launched for organisations and for those out with the West Calder area.”

“We’ve been able to tap in to support from both Community Shares Scotland and Co-operative Development Scotland to set up a new Community Benefit Society to run the Centre after launch. People are invited to support the Centre by investing in shares to help the new business become sustainable and deliver benefits to the community. It is hoped that investors will be offered interest when the company is trading securely in the future and any profits will be invested back into the centre or be used to deliver community and co-operative projects.”

To find out more about the centre and how to invest visit their website.

To find out more about support for co-ops visit our pages on the Scottish Enterprise website

Meet Dave Routledge, a passionate employee ownership advocate

Our employee ownership learning journey to Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire is taking place on 28 & 29 February 2024.

To help give a flavour of what to expect as part of the learning journey we caught up with guest speaker and workshop leader Dave Routledge, a passionate employee ownership advocate for most of his career who has held leadership roles in a number of employee-owned companies, as well as serving on the board of the Employee Ownership Association.

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Is starting a co-op right for you?

We’re getting ready to host our first co-op masterclasses next month. In the run up to the event we caught up with co-op specialist Suzanne Orchard to find out more about the new events and what is in store for those who sign up.

Picture of Suzanne Orchard“As Scotland strives to create a wellbeing economy, co-ops can play a critical role in realising that ambition.  They are proven to be resilient and contribute significantly to the economy, by delivering beyond the measure of GDP. They are democratic, fair businesses that place profit on an equal footing to planet and people, delivering positive impacts for the communities they serve.


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EOA Conference 2023 – Top 5 Takeaways

Collage of event pictures featuring stage with presentation, proudly employee owned logo and Glen Dott.

Our specialist adviser Glen Dott attended the recent EOA Conference 2023 which took place in Liverpool on 27-28 November 2023.  With 2 days of jam-packed activities, from keynote speakers, breakout sessions, silent theatre, fireside chats to the exhibition area, conference dinner and networking opportunities, we caught up with Glen for his top five takeaways from the conference: 

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New platform co-op to support a sustainable and thriving hospitality industry

This summer has seen one of the most significant announcements in the co-op sector in Scotland for some time. Long established online restaurant deals and reservation provider, 5pm, have signalled their intentions to completely overhaul their operating model and transition to a co-operative, creating what is thought to be the first platform of its type in the world. Owned by hospitality businesses, this new co-op known as Kooble has unveiled its ground-breaking platform, poised to shake up the online booking market.

With their journey well underway and formal launch planned for the the new year, we caught up with 5pm founder Ronnie Sommerville to find out more.

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Business Support Needs of Co-operatives in Scotland

Over the summer we issued an invite to the co-op sector to share their insights with us and help us inform our plans for 2023.  With the responses now in and feedback collated, our specialist advisor, Stewart Macgregor outlines some of the key findings in our latest blog article:

Stewart MacgregorAs the only public-sector-funded service in Scotland dedicated to supporting economic growth by increasing the number of co-operatives, Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) must ensure that co-ops have a greater role and voice to inform the areas of support that we provide.

With that goal in mind, we devised the ‘Business Support Needs of Co-operatives in Scotland’ survey to help us understand the key sectors that co-ops are working in, the support that new and existing co-ops have accessed in the last 12 months, and the areas of support they would benefit from over the next 12 months.

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Highlights from the Oxford Symposium

The second annual Oxford Symposium on Employee Ownership took place last month.  Organised by Graeme Nuttall OBE and Professor John Hoffmire, the aim is to bring together individuals and organisations active in employee ownership policy-making from across the world to share ideas and learning.   The number of nations represented was impressive: there were at least 20 countries attending including Australia, Japan, Denmark, Slovenia, Canada and the US. Co-operative Development Scotland were pleased to report strong Scottish representation and we caught up with Simon Poole of Jerba Campervans who shares his experience in our latest blog article. 

Group of Jerba Campervans employees standing in front of campervan

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No Succession-style drama here – Alexander (Scotland) & Co Ltd and Glen Drummond Chartered Accountants make the move to employee ownership

While one trades in Steel and the other in Numbers, two more Scottish companies – Alexander (Scotland) & Co and Glen Drummond Chartered Accountants – have proved they see the value in becoming employee-owned, handing their respective employees a 100% share via the creation of an employee ownership trust (EOT).

It is a choice being made by an increasing number of companies in Scotland as the employee ownership business model becomes more widely understood. We caught up with current owner of Mr Glenn Maclachlan of Alexander (Scotland) & Co and Chris Wilson CA, director of Glen Drummond to find out more about each of their moves.

Group of employees outside Alexander Scotland premisese. Company sign and vehicle visible in background
Employees from Alexander (Scotland) & Co Ltd based in Striling

“Alexander (Scotland) & Co Ltd has been serving steel customers across Central Scotland for almost 75 years. From humble beginnings at a small premises in Stirling, with just a horse and cart for delivery, the company has grown to forty employees with two premises in Stirling and one in Bathgate,” explains Glenn.

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An altogether different way to do business- with New Leaf Co-op

This Co-op Fortnight we’re joining with Co-operatives UK and the co-op sector to celebrate how co‑operatives offer an altogether different way to do business. We thought this was a great opportunity to catch up with an established co-op. In our newest blog article, Sally Green of Edinburgh based New Leaf chats to us about why a co-op model works for their members and their customers and how its helping them navigate the challenges of the cost of living crisis.

Sally Green sranding outside New Leaf Co-op with a box of produce

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Meet our specialist advisors

Last month we launched our brand-new Inclusive Business Models Video Guide which demonstrates the type of business models our team can support. Each video stars one of our specialist advisors so in our latest blog article, we’re shining a light on them to find out more about who they are and why they love working with employee-owned businesses and co-ops.  

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Scotland welcomes three new employee-owned businesses

It was a great start to 2023 for employee ownership as three Scottish businesses implemented an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT), safeguarding the long-term future of their companies, retaining jobs, skills and investment. We caught up with Clare Alexander, Head of Co-operative Development Scotland, to find out more.

SVM Glasgow, Stoneywood Care Services in Denny and Oliver Chapman Architects in Edinburgh have all made the move to employee ownership since the start of 2023.  Our team were pleased to be involved in the early stages of the process for each by providing advice and support via a 100% funded ownership succession review and employee ownership feasibility study.

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Accountancy pointers for business owners considering an EOT

In advance of the third and final webinar in the Employee Ownership Explained series, we caught up with guest speaker, Linzi Wilson from Consilium Chartered  Accountants, for a few pointers to help business owners considering an EOT make an informed decision.


Linzi Wilson is Corporate Finance Partner at Consilium Chartered Accountants. Linzi qualified in 2005 and has over 17 years’ experience in the Corporate Finance sector working with a range of clients, large and small, across a diverse range of industries. Linzi specialises in business sales, financial modelling, raising finance, and sourcing grant funding.

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From EO sceptic to EO evangelist

As part of our recent Employee Ownership Learning Journey we had the pleasure of hosting Andrew Lane, MD of Leeds based Union Industries as our after dinner speaker. Andrew shared his 15 years’ experience of employee ownership with the audience and describes how he moved from EO Sceptic to EO Evangelist….

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Employee Ownership Learning Journey 28 February – 1 March 2023

Our Employee Ownership Learning Journey covering Aberdeen, Tayport and Perth was the first face-to-face employee ownership event hosted by the Co-operative Scotland Team since the pandemic. Response was fantastic and very quickly all spaces were booked and we had to close registrations. Over 40 people attended at various parts of the two-day event: a good mix of current employee-owned companies, those considering employee ownership, advisers and other interested individuals.  Seven employee-owned business shared their employee ownership story, in what has been described as an “invaluable and enjoyable” event

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The legal aspects of the employee ownership transaction

Our Employee Ownership Explained Webinar Series kicked off last month with Graeme Nuttall sharing his insight on the employee ownership landscape and view of the future. The series continues with spaces still available at the remaining events. These expert webinars, aimed at professional advisers, will explore different aspects of employee ownership, equipping the audience to support their clients in making informed decisions.

In advance of the second webinar, we caught up with guest speaker, Bruce Farquhar from Anderson Strathern, for his thoughts on best practice when it comes to implementing the EOT.  

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Leadership Succession at Union Industries

We’ve just launched a free learning journey to the North East & Tayside area of Scotland to showcase examples of effective employee ownership in successful, growing businesses.

To help give a flavour of what to expect as part of the learning journey we caught up with guest speaker, Andrew Lane of Union Industries. Andrew was appointed in 2014 to lead Union Industries into employee ownership, the chosen exit strategy for founders Paul and Isobel Schofield, affectionately called Mr & Mrs S by the Union Industries family.

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