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Ownership change

Couple map out employee-owned future

Robin and Susan Harvey

Robin and Susan Harvey: succession plan

Map publisher Harvey Map Services is the latest business in Scotland to adopt an employee ownership model, with ten staff given the opportunity to become owners. 

Harvey Maps was founded 40 years ago by Robin and Susan Harvey to provide a professional mapmaking service for orienteers. 

Based in Doune, Perthshire, it is one of a small number of companies in the UK to generate its own map data.  It has become a market leader in maps for outdoor pursuits such as hill walking and mountain marathons.

Susan Harvey said: “In due course we will want to retire. However, having formed and developed the business into a market leading company over the past 40 years, we didn’t want to sell to a competitor and see our life’s work absorbed into another company.  It was also important to us to retain the jobs in Doune. 

“We wanted a succession solution which gave the company, the jobs and the brand a good chance of continued independent existence following our retirement; employee ownership ticked all of our boxes.”

An Employee Ownership Trust has been formed and will hold 90% of the shares on behalf of the employees.  Susan Harvey is the only other shareholder with 10% ownership. 

Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), the arm of Scottish Enterprise which promotes collaborative business models, guided and supported Harvey Maps’ transition to employee ownership, providing advice on the implementation of the new ownership structure.

Mrs Harvey continued:  “The whole process has been a leap into the unknown and we could not have done it without support. 

“We spent quite a bit of time working with specialist advisers from Scottish Enterprise and Co-operative Development Scotland, undertaking briefings with the staff to help them understand the concept of employee ownership. 

“It’s been an extremely busy and challenging time for the business with the transition to employee ownership, our 40th anniversary and impending Christmas promotions. However, the future is bright and the involvement of all employees in the ownership of the business will be a major boost going forward. 

“I am confident that once things settle down, employee ownership will be great for the staff, the brand and the company.”

CDS director Sarah Deas added:  “Harvey Maps is a successful business and the owners wanted to ensure that continued after their retirement.  It was also important to them that the ethos of the company was preserved and that the employment was retained in Doune; employee ownership is the perfect solution for that. 

“By becoming employee-owned, the company is safeguarding highly-skilled jobs and keeping specialist skills alive.  Employee ownership is a succession option that should be explored by businesses of all sizes and sectors.”

There are 86 employee-owned companies operating in Scotland, with approximately 6,800 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of about £925 million. 


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