Category: BLOG (Page 1 of 13)

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.

Photograph of Ronnie SomervilleWe’ve long recognised the issues faced by businesses in the booking market, with colossal international booking conglomerates charging exorbitant commissions. Our vision was to change this, creating a sustainable and attractive hospitality industry that benefits all.  I believe that a co-operative booking platform, owned by the industry itself, is the solution the tourism and hospitality sector has been waiting for.

Kooble is a non-profit co-operative, co-owned by leading operators within Scotland’s hospitality industry with no external shareholders. It will level the playing field by directing profits back to hospitality businesses through a dividend. This unique model empowers businesses to reinvest a greater proportion of their profits, fostering growth, sustainability and fairness within the industry. This operating model aims to halve the commissions typically paid by businesses to Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), charging businesses around 15% and remitting up to a remarkable 7.5% back to the merchants. In comparison, many OTAs retain the entire commission.

The launch has been met with huge enthusiasm and more than 150 hospitality operators in Scotland have already pledged their support, demonstrating the widespread confidence in what many in the industry have described as a ‘game-changing platform’.

We’re in a unique position as this new co-op can leverage 5pm’s established experience and expertise in the Scottish market, offering a seamless and reliable service for users as a result of new technology, personalised service and long-standing relationships that currently exist within Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry.

Our vision is to spearhead a Scotland-wide movement that fosters a sustainable and thriving hospitality industry, benefiting all stakeholders. With our proven platform, expert team, and over two decades of experience, we have the necessary tools to turn this vision into a resounding success that empowers everyone involved.

It’s also important to highlight that an organisation like Kooble aligns with the Scottish Government’s Community Wealth Building Programme. It exemplifies the principles of shared ownership, progressive procurement, and localised financial empowerment.”

Looking to the future, we aim to expand the concept globally. We believe that a successful Kooble in Scotland will be the steppingstone to offering a multilingual and white label platform and playbook to other groups of hospitality businesses worldwide. Kooble shines a light on the potential for a much brighter future for our industry.”

To find out more about Kooble and how to join visit:

Kooble were supported by Co-operative Development Scotland early in the process. We were able to provide them expert support to carry out feasibility, explore their options and set up the co-op.  

Find out more about setting up a co-op contact our team:

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.

These results have shown that our existing service, for both start-up and existing co-ops, largely continues to meet current need. Key messages include:

  • keep access to support simple and straightforward;
  • provide access to specialist knowledge, key areas and expertise;
  • ensure business support can be accessed as a one-off support intervention (as and when required).

Following our survey, we are confident that CDS’ support continues to reflect the needs of co-ops. However, we know there is more work to be done to help the sector grow. We will continue to ensure best use of the resources available to us at this time, and to support the critical role that co-ops have in supporting the Scottish Government’s aim to create a fairer, stronger and more democratic economy.

CDS is therefore delighted to be working with Co-operate Scotland LLP to deliver support to our clients. Co-operate Scotland LLP is a newly formed co-op of experienced practitioners with an unrivalled position in terms of knowledge, oversight, and networks across the operating landscape in Scotland. These expert advisors will help us continue to offer a high-quality service consisting of:

 Fully funded support to help establish new co-ops assisting with practical advice and support on:

  • business models and legal structures
  • business planning & feasibility
  • supporting the formation of an appropriate legal entity

And continuing our support for existing co-ops in Scotland by providing:

  • governance and legal structure reviews and implementation
  • supporting membership engagement reviews
  • securing funding
  • strategy development.

Working closely with our clients and partners, we want to ensure that our support remains proactive, helping co-ops become stronger, more resilient and are better able to meet the needs of the individuals and communities they support. We have seen the fantastic ability of the sector to self-organise and create opportunities for peer learning. Having supported a Worker Co-op meet-up in Glasgow in the last year, we are interested in learning how we can use our strategic role to continue to nurture the development and growth of peer learning opportunities going forward. We remain open and transparent, willing to listen to the needs of co-ops and ensuring that we continue to empower the sector in Scotland to grow, strengthen and position itself as the democratic business model for a wellbeing economy.

For further information on the support available to co-ops in Scotland please visit our pages on the Scottish Enterprise website. 

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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Worker Co-ops: Support and connecting the sector

On October 27th, a gathering of worker co-operatives is taking place that provides an exciting opportunity to find out more about the sector and the support available within it.

As the event draws near, we thought it was a great time to catch up with one of the key organisers and founding member of media co-op, Louise Scott, to find out more about the sector and what is in store for us at the event.

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GlenWyvis: The power of community to create successful, inclusive and sustainable businesses

The community business sector is a hugely exciting place right now. We see many examples of groups coming together with ambitious plans to establish new ventures in their communities that improve local amenities and create fair and inclusive economic opportunities.

A key part of helping groups get off the ground is hearing from others who have already succeeded. GlenWyvis, a whisky distillery near Dingwall, is one of the more established community businesses we have worked with, so we thought it was a good time to catch up with this flourishing business. Lindi Konso, Sales and Marketing Representative spent some time chatting to our team about GlenWyvis’ inspiring story and how this distillery is doing things differently.

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Co-ops Fortnight 2022

It’s that time again when we join with our colleagues from Co-operatives UK and the Co-op sector to celebrate Co-ops Fortnight.

This year we have been invited to #UnwrapCoops and are celebrating the many different, inspiring ways that being part of a co‑op can make to people’s lives. We thought it was the perfect time to catch up with Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) team leader, Darah Zahran for an update on the sector in Scotland.

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New project launched to support young entrepreneurs to create businesses with social purpose

Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) has partnered with Youth Enterprise Scotland (YE Scotland) on a new initiative which provides the first comprehensive source of information on inclusive, values-led business models for young people. Together we aim to inspire young entrepreneurs to set up companies with a social or environmental purpose.

Gillian Kirton, project manager, Co-operative Development Scotland

To find out more about this innovative and exciting project, we caught up with Gillian Kirton, Project Manager at Co-operative Development Scotland.

“At CDS, we have seen growing interest from business leaders in co-operatives, employee-owned businesses, social enterprises, B-Corps, and community interest companies. This interest has grown further since the Covid-19 pandemic and as Scotland strives to become a wellbeing economy, there is a desire for change and for businesses to put people and planet on an equal footing to profit.  

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