Shetland-based medical industry consultant transfers ownership to staff

‘One of our core values is collaboration, and the employee ownership model reinforces that’

A specialist services provider for the life sciences and pharmaceutical and medical device industries is the latest Scottish company to become employee-owned.

ESPL Regulatory Consulting (ESPL), which provides specialist regulatory services, was transferred from the Erwood family to a trust for the benefit of the company’s staff.

Highlands & Islands Enterprise provided a grant for the legal costs involved in the business buyout, and there was also support from Co-operative Development Scotland, an arm of Scottish Enterprise, and consulting firm Ownership Associates.

Based in Shetland, ESPL operates in Glasgow, England, across the EU, Switzerland, North America and Australia.

Dr Helen Erwood, one of the original owners who will maintain her involvement in ESPL, said: “It’s approaching time for control of the business to be handed over to the next generation.

“We have built up a successful business from our Shetland base and we couldn’t have done that without the considerable talents and efforts of our team. One of our core values is collaboration, and the employee ownership model reinforces that.”

Carole Leslie of Ownership Associates said: “The employee ownership trust provides a tax effective succession option for business owners.

“Employee ownership works for the seller, the employees, the customers, and keeps businesses in the local community. Evidence demonstrates that companies owned by their employees outperform their peers on just about every business metric.”

Sarah Deas, director at Co-operative Development Scotland, added: “We’re delighted to welcome ESPL to Scotland’s growing EO community. For the Erwoods EO has provided a perfect business succession solution.

“They appreciated the fact that transferring ownership to their team would secure their independent consultancy status and give the staff a great opportunity to take ESPL to the next level.

“We wish the business every success going forward.”