Dundee shopfitter employees given opportunity to become owners

Bentleys 2Dundee-based bespoke joinery manufacturer and interior fit-out specialist, Bentleys Shopfitting Ltd, has announced it is the latest Scottish business to adopt an employee ownership model, with 50 staff now given the opportunity to become owners.

Established in 1987, the Dundee-based company specialises in the management and completion of interior fit-out projects, creating high quality bespoke furnishings at its in-house manufacturing facility.

It has evolved from specialising in the retail sector to expanding its expertise across the education, leisure, hospitality, corporate, residential and oil and gas sectors, with notable projects including The Old Course Hotel and Spa in St Andrews, Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder and the Balmoral and Sheraton Grand Hotels in Edinburgh.

With turnover in the current financial year expected to exceed £8 million, Bentleys’ three directors were keen to continue the trend in growth since the recession.

Bentleys 3Managing director, Alan Walker, said: “We wanted a succession plan which would allow us to continue in the business over a period of years whilst supporting a management team that will continue to drive the business forward.

“The involvement of all employees in the ownership of the business will be a major boost going forward. In addition to our 50 staff we have a network of local suppliers and subcontractors who rely on our business. Other options were considered but the priority of the board was to ensure the business remained local.”

An Employee Ownership Trust will buy the shares from the shareholders and hold these on behalf of the employees. Tax incentives will be available to allow employees to invest in the company.

Bentleys was supported in its transition to employee ownership by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), the arm of Scottish Enterprise which promotes collaborative business models.

Sarah Deas
Sarah Deas

CDS director, Sarah Deas, said: “2016 has been a tremendous year for transitions to employee ownership as more companies recognise its effectiveness in harnessing the effort of employees, preserving company ethos and rooting businesses in the local area. It’s an exciting time for Bentleys and I wish the company well as it joins the thriving and dynamic EO community.

“As the employee ownership model’s popularity as a viable succession option continues to grow, we look forward to hearing more success stories of employee owned businesses in the future.”

Recent research showed there are 79 employee-owned companies in Scotland, with approximately 6,500 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of around £900million.

Carole Leslie of Ownership Associates, an employee ownership specialist who also supported Bentleys, added: “Bentleys is a superb business and a great example of visionary owners choosing a model that protects employment, keeps the company local and has been proven to deliver improved commercial success.”

Bentleys was advised on the legal requirement of the move by MacRoberts LLP and on the financial aspects by accountancy firm Henderson Loggie.

David Wylie, partner at MacRoberts LLP, said: “Employee ownership is increasingly attractive as an exit route for business owners and can bring real benefits for the staff. The ability to secure the future of the company was a strong driver and we have been delighted to advise the board through the process.”

Rod Mathers, partner at Henderson Loggie, said: “Bentleys is a long standing client of the firm and we were delighted to assist the owners in reviewing their options and in agreeing a structure which provides a future stake for everyone in delivering long term success.”

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