Glasgow-based Mediascape, which supplies audio-visual systems, is transferring ownership to its employees – part of a growing trend in Scotland.
Owners Angus and Shona Knight decided to transfer the majority of the shareholding to an employee ownership trust after rejected several offers to buy the company.
Mediascape designs, supplies, installs and maintains AV and videoconferencing systems, with a list of private and public sector clients including the University of Glasgow, Strathclyde University, St. Andrews University, Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland.
Based in Port Dundas, Glasgow, it also has a site in Edinburgh and now has 24 employees, from an initial roster of four in December 2003. It has just enjoyed its best trading year, with turnover likely to top £5m.
“Too often a company is sold and before long, it disappears and the jobs go,” said Shona Knight. “We couldn’t do that. We have a very talented team of people at Mediascape who have shown such loyalty to Angus and I over the years. It’s time for us to recognise that loyalty.”
Angus Knight added: “One of the attractions of choosing this path is that there will be continuity for Mediascape customers and staff.
“Shona and I plan to stay on for the next few years to ensure a smooth handover and allow the management team time to get to grips with running the business. We’re retaining a 20% stake in the business to demonstrate our commitment to the staff that we’re still part of the show.”
Mediascape’s move is part of a growing trend in for employee ownership in Scotland. Figures from Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) say there are 93 employee-owned firms and at least ten more are reportedly set to follow.
Earlier this month, the Auchrannie resort in Brodick, the Isle of Arran, became Scotland’s first hotel to move to employee ownership.
A trust has been formed and holds 100% of the shares on behalf of the company’s employees, with its co-founder and managing director Linda Johnston and team remaining in place.
Ms Johnston said: “Many exit options were considered over the years but none protected the ethos of the company, the existing team or the community use of Auchrannie’s facilities for future generations like employee ownership did.
“The team have been involved in the process from an early stage and were given the opportunity to input throughout. They have very much embraced the concept of employee ownership and are extremely excited about it.
“The transition has been pretty smooth. We have been well supported by HIE, CDS, Co-ownership Solutions and Burness Paull. The help we received was invaluable in enabling us to put together the team who lead us through the whole process seamlessly. Although there have been a number of hurdles to jump over, there have been no real lows.
The switch was supported by CDS and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), with the process managed by Co-ownership Solutions LLP and legal services by Burness Paull.
Sarah Deas, director at CDS, said: “Being on an island, a change to the ownership of a resort like Auchrannie could seriously affect the economy of the whole island.
“The change to employee ownership means that the team at Auchrannie and the community of Arran can relax knowing that it will always remain an independent, locally run organisation with community values at heart.”