EQ Chartered Accountants Safeguard Future of Scots I.T Company
Published on 10 December 2019
Leading Scottish tax and business advisory specialists, EQ Accountants LLP have safeguarded the future of a Grangemouth firm by supporting its move into employee ownership.
EQ Chartered Accountants, which has offices in Dundee, Forfar, Cupar and Glenrothes, has supported Exmos into an Employee Ownership Trust structure, with nine members of staff given a stake in the business.
Established in November 1991 by Gordon Coulter, Exmos provides a range of IT support services to over 100 businesses in the UK and internationally. It specialises in remote support for manufacturing and industrial processing companies and also offers custom software development, as well as comprehensive cyber security services.
Having built his business up over the past 30 years, Gordon was beginning to consider his eventual exit from the business. However, he was not interested in a trade sale.
Gordon explains, “Many staff have been with us for years and I felt it would be selfish of me to put them in a position where they were potentially going to have the rug pulled from under their feet, or be pulled into a big corporation with a different culture from the one they had chosen at Exmos.
“I attended a number of seminars on employee ownership (EO) where I heard from experts, founders of employee-owned businesses, and staff. I decided it was the best fit for Exmos’ future and its staff so I got in touch with Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) to learn more about the model and how we could move forward with the buyout.”
CDS supported the transition to employee ownership, with the process managed by Ownership Associates UK, legal services by Anderson Strathern, and EQ Chartered Accountants Partner, Dougie Rae assisted with all accountancy and tax matters. An Employee Ownership Trust has now been formed and holds 60% of the shares on behalf of the employees.
Gordon concludes, “It was never about making a complete exit for me, and I’ll still be very involved in the business for several years to come as we continue to evolve. The reaction from the staff has been very positive, and they have expressed gratitude over the move to EO, which has ensured their jobs remain in the local area and gives them more of a say in how the company is run.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the support we’ve had throughout the process, from the initial guidance from Co-operative Development Scotland, through to the expert advice we received from Ownership Associates. The experience and knowledge offered by Anderson Strathern and EQ Accountants has proven invaluable in helping us complete the deal, and we’ve had the greatest confidence in all of our advisers throughout.”
EQ Partner, Dougie Rae added, “It was great to be able to help Gordon achieve his goals and meet the team that are joint owners of their own business. Exmos is a great example demonstrating that Employee Ownership can be a solution for businesses with a small number of employees as well as those with a significant workforce.
“EQ have assisted companies of all shapes and sizes with their transition to employee ownership and in each case the ‘feel good factor’ that is achieved is a definite boost to the business. I would encourage anyone who is looking at succession planning to seriously consider employee ownership as one of the options for their company. The benefits to the seller and the employees can be enormous.”
Head of Co-operative Development Scotland, Clare Alexander said, “The number of employee-owned businesses in Scotland continues to grow. Not only does it help secure the future of local businesses, the model is key to helping Scotland deliver its economic goal of Inclusive Growth – an economy which distributes wealth more widely and addresses inequalities for a fairer society.”
Statistics demonstrate that employee-owned businesses consistently outperform their non EO counterparts in terms of higher levels of profitability, increased productivity brought about by higher levels of engagement and enhanced employee wellbeing, as well as improved business resilience during times of recession. Within Scotland, there are now around 110 employee-owned companies operating, with approximately 7,500 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of around £950 million.
For more information, visit www.eqaccountants.co.uk.