Guitarguitar staff tune in to employee ownership

Axe-men: some of the staff who will become owners

A guitar retailer has become the latest business to switch employee ownership, believing that the move is good for the staff and customers.

The switch will see 60% of guitarguitar shares placed into an employee ownership trust (EOT) for the benefit of the Glasgow-based firm’s 160 staff at six outlets across the UK.

Guitarguitar sells more than 50,000 instruments a year, from entry level to highly sought-after collector’s pieces from the likes of Fender, Gibson, Taylor and Martin.

Founders Kip McBay and Graham Bell decided to make the switch to employee ownership to allow them to plan for their respective exits from the company without threatening the legacy of the brand.

Mr Bell said: “We’ve spent the last 20 years building a brand that we are wholeheartedly passionate about. We wanted to ensure the business means something to future owners when our time comes to take a step back.

“Not only did we want to reward staff for their efforts at the company but we also wanted to ensure our customers will always be front and centre. Every experience a customer has at guitarguitar will now be with someone who is invested in and committed to delivering outstanding service to musicians.”

The company, which was launched in Edinburgh in 2004, has an annual turnover of £45million and is believed to be the first musical instrument retailer in the UK to take the step into employee-ownership.   

Carole Leslie of Ownership Associates provided employee ownership support for the project and assisted communication with the new employee owners and other stakeholders.

EY advised on the transaction.

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