Keppie Design marks 170 years with shift to employee ownership

Keppie Design marks 170 years with shift to employee ownership

(from left) David Ross, Fraser Low, Pamela Ross, Peter Moran, and Richard MacDonald

Glasgow-based architectural firm Keppie Design has transitioned its entire shareholding to an employee ownership trust (EOT), making it the latest Scottish company to adopt this ownership structure.

More than 100 staff are set to become part-owners of the business. Founded in 1854 by John Honeyman, 2024 marks a significant milestone for Keppie, entering its 170th year. Since its inception, Keppie has been at the forefront of innovative Scottish architecture, with world-renowned figures such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh amongst the firm’s former partners.

The current shareholders, Peter Moran, Fraser Low, Richard MacDonald and David Ross acquired the business in a management buyout in 2018. The shareholders have been exploring the future of Keppie for some time, recognising the huge personal investment from the staff that has driven the special culture and hard-earned reputation of the firm. Their priority has been to ensure that these values are protected beyond their stewardship.

Managing director Mr Moran said: “The outstanding loyalty and contribution of Keppie employees over the years has earned our practice the reputation it has today.

“We believe that the best people to own the future of Keppie are the people who know it best – our present and future employees.”

He added: “The EOT will provide a platform for our business to grow, with a commitment to continual professional and personal improvement and innovation to ensure Keppie maintains its position as a market leader.”

The four shareholders will remain in the business, allowing for a period of stability and business as usual following the transfer to the EOT.

Finance director Pamela Ross has been appointed the employee representative on the board of trustees.

Welcoming the changes, Ms Ross said: “On behalf of the whole team at Keppie we are delighted and energised by the move to employee ownership which secures the business for current and future generations of talented people.

“This exciting new era for the company allows us to further build on our current market-leading position, working on innovative, high-quality projects in an environment which balances creativity, collaboration, and pragmatism, whilst inspiring our staff to reach their full potential.”

Graham Cunning, head of corporate finance in Scotland with accountancy firm Azets, which has been managing the transaction, said: “Azets are delighted to have advised the shareholders of Keppie on their sale to an EOT.

“Keppie have a strong reputation and rich heritage in Scottish architecture and the EOT will ensure that the Keppie brand will continue. We wish the staff every success and look forward to watching the evolution of Keppie as it transitions to an employee-owned business.”

Carole Leslie of Ownership Associates has provided specialist employee ownership support with legal advice provided by David Deane at Bannatyne Kirkwood France & Co.

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