Scotland’s latest business to become employee-owned is Perth-based Tayplay, a manufacturer of rope, playground and climbing equipment for the playground and leisure industry. Since it was founded in 1994, it has developed into the UK’s leading supplier of rope playground equipment, shipping hundreds of products worldwide and turning over £2million annually.
Last month’s move to an employee-ownership model has seen Tayplay’s 14 members of staff given the opportunity to become owners in the business. Managing director Peter Will discusses why the company decided to go down the EO route and shares his experiences of the transition process.
Following the recession we experienced a difficult trading period and we were considering a trade sale. However, we could not agree terms and after a strategic review we decided to look more closely at the employee ownership business model. Co-operative Development Scotland then conducted a feasibility study and we quickly discovered employee ownership ticked all of our boxes. No other options were even seriously considered at that stage.
Our EO journey started in 2014 and so far we have been able to meet all of our targets in terms of the sale price, timescales and the fact we’ve been able to retain the business in Perth. EO is the ideal solution for retiring owners who want to preserve the ethos of the business and retain employment locally. It is also a reward for the staff as we wanted to recognise the contribution and commitment they’ve made to the company’s success.
An Employee Ownership Trust has acquired a controlling interest in the company and will hold these shares on behalf of the employees, with the view that our employees will eventually own 100% of the company.
We spent quite a bit of time working with specialist advisors at CDS, undertaking meetings with the staff to help them understand the concept of employee ownership. Our employees now really believe in the new model and we expect the degree of buy-in to increase now that the deal has gone through. As the employees begin to see and feel the reality of EO we expect their commitment to the company will grow and it will make recruitment easier.
CDS guided and supported Tayplay’s transition to employee ownership, providing expert advice on the implementation of the new ownership structure. If you would like to learn more about how employee-ownership could benefit your business, please get in touch and our expert advisers will be happy to chat with you.