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.

Dave began his career as a Bobbin Boy for ICI straight from school, progressing through the ranks to the role of Production Manager, at which point he was headhunted to join pharmaceutical business Sterling Health as Divisional Training and Development Manager, covering operations in the UK, USA and Puerto Rico. He was then promoted to HR Director and led a successful £40m management buyout. The business was subsequently acquired for £500m. Dave had designed and implemented an innovative all employee stock option programme, which  delivered significant rewards for all staff and was externally recognised, winning the prestigious ProShare award for best international business.

His first experience of full employee ownership was with Eaga, first joining on a part-time basis as strategic advisor to the board, and then appointed to the main board in 2004 with responsibilities including: Organisational Development, Risk Management, HR, Strategic Planning, Corporate and Government Affairs, Remuneration Committee, Governance and Business Transformation.  Eaga grew from a turnover of £100m (£3.5m EBITDA and 450 staff) in 2002 to £800m turnover (£50m EBITDA and 5000 employees in 2011. Unusually for an employee-owned business, Eaga listed on the Stock Exchange, resulting in a distribution to Trust beneficiaries of £100m in cash and shares. The company then sold to Carillion and in what was a controversial move at the time, did not distribute the proceeds of the sale, but invested the cash to build value for the future.  14,000 former employees, their spouses and children now benefit from a £110m trust. In addition to cash payouts, the former employees and their families benefit for help towards childcare costs, and bursaries are available should the children want to go to university.  There are also 35 5-star heavily subsidised holiday homes available for booking.  

Dave now holds a number of non-executive chairmanships, directorships across a variety of sectors including employee-owned companies WCF, Gripple, Loadhog and Glide as well as a portfolio of angel investments. He counts amongst his key achievements as building and sustaining high engagement culture within the organisations he’s worked with and implementing sustainable community engagement programmes. 

A mid/late life adventurer, having ridden a motorcycle off road for over 1,000 miles in South Africa. He has also completed a 150km cross-country ski expedition across Norway’s Hardangervidda plateau. He is currently planning a motorcycle trip from Alaska to Patagonia and is considering riding a vintage bike in speed trials on the Bonneville salt flats. To relax he plays the classical guitar (badly).

Dave will be sharing his employee ownership experiences and lessons learned at the event next week. He will be delivering the after dinner speech on the evening of 28 February as well as running a workshop on the morning of 29 February 2024 on ‘Achieving a Sustainable Ownership Culture’.

Find out more about the learning journey and sign up here.

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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What’s next for employee ownership and the EOT?

Bookings are now open for our upcoming Employee Ownership Explained Webinar Programme. 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 first event, we caught up with guest speaker, Graeme Nuttall OBE, for his reflections on the Nuttall Review ten years after its publication.

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