More Scottish businesses under employee ownership as targets for 2030 loom

Scotland is the third-largest growth region in the UK for employee-owned businesses, having expanded by 13 per cent since June 2020.

New research commissioned by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), the arm of Scottish Enterprise dedicated to supporting the sector, has revealed there are now a total of 195 employee-owned firms operating across the country. This includes 146 which are registered in Scotland, employing more than 5,350 people generating a combined turnover of £691 million.

CDS said the figures will form a baseline for its push to increase the number of employee-owned businesses in Scotland to 500 by 2030, in line with commitments from the Scottish Government’s 2021 programme for government.

“With the national strategy for economic transformation’s increased emphasis on the wellbeing economy, communities and fair work, it’s more important than ever that we raise awareness and uptake of employee ownership,” said Clare Alexander, head of CDS.

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“It’s also a business model that punches well above its weight in terms of business resilience during times of economic crisis, profitability, productivity and staff engagement – outperforming the non-employee owned sector in all of these measures.”

Companies are defined as employee-owned if staff have a stake of at least 25% with no other single majority shareholder. This includes firms based and registered in Scotland, workers’ co-operatives based and registered in Scotland, and those headquartered elsewhere but with some operations in Scotland.

Isabella Miller, co-chair of industry group Scotland for Employee Ownership (SfEO), added: “These findings are incredibly helpful in terms of better understanding the employee ownership landscape in Scotland, and I’m sure they’ll act as a springboard for a successful drive to reach the 2030 target.

“In Scotland we’re uniquely placed to nurture and grow the employee ownership sector – with CDS dedicated to helping companies learn about the model and make the transition, while SfEO is dedicated to championing the values and benefits, using its industry voice to support emerging policy, best practice and growth of this vital model for Scotland’s economy.”

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