New research commissioned by Co-operative Development Scotland, shows that there are currently 195 employee-owned businesses (EOBs)* operating in Scotland, comprised of 146 Scottish-registered EOBs and worker co-operatives and 49 non-Scottish-registered EOBs. The census reveals that the Scottish-registered EOBs and worker co-operatives have a combined turnover of £691m and employ 5,350 people.

The Scottish Government has an ambition for 500 EOBs in Scotland by 2030. Research was undertaken in February and March 2022 by University of Leeds, University of New South Wales and the White Rose Employee Ownership Centre (WREOC), to determine the size and shape of the employee ownership sector in Scotland and to provide a baseline census.

KEY FINDINGS

  • There are 195 EOBs operating in Scotland
    • 119 Scottish-registered EOBs, 27 Scottish-registered worker co-operatives, and 49 non-Scottish-registered EOBs (including 1 co-op)
  • The 119 Scottish-registered EOBs have a combined turnover of £661m and employ over 5,000 employees
    • Top 5 sectors are: Professional, Technical, and Scientific (20%), Manufacturing (19%), Wholesale and Retail (14%) and Construction (12%), Information and Communication (11%)
  • The 27 Scottish-registered worker co-operatives have a combined turnover of £30m and employee over 350 employees
    • Top 5 sectors are: Wholesale and Retail (26%), Professional, Technical, and Scientific (15%), Information and Communication (15%), and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (15%), Education (15%)
  • There are 49 non-Scottish-registered EOBs (including 1 co-op) 
    • Data was not available for the majority of these companies

Of the total 195, we have the most information on the 119 Scottish-registered EOBs with over two-thirds of these companies responding to the survey (82/119).

FINDINGS ON 119 SCOTTISH REGISTERED EOBS

  • 80% of the transitions to employee ownership occurred from 2014 onwards (when the Finance Act 2014 established the EOT)
  • Nearly three-quarters of all employee ownership transitions have occurred since 2017
  • Top 5 sectors are: Professional, Technical, and Scientific; Manufacturing; Wholesale and Retail; Construction; and Information and Communication (same as the UK)
  • 98% utilise a trust, with 17% having some direct, individual ownership
  • 63% of companies are 100% employee-owned, and the average level of employee ownership is 90%
  • All Scottish-registered EOBs have some forms of employee participation in governance that are not typically used by non-employee-owned firms
    • 82% of companies with a trust have one or more employee trustees
    • 58% have employee directors
    • 44% have regular meetings of employee shareholders 
  • Total employment in Scottish-registered EOBs is just over 5000 employees
  • Estimated total turnover in Scottish-registered EOBs is £661 million

* Companies are defined as an employee-owned businesses if there is an employee stake of at least 25% with no other single majority shareholder. It includes employee-owned businesses based and registered in Scotland, workers’ co-operatives based and registered in Scotland, and worker co-operatives and employee-owned firms headquartered elsewhere but with some operations in Scotland.