Deal secures staff future

Highlands hotel passes into employee ownership

Priory Hotel staff

Staff become new owners


Forty-six staff at The Priory Hotel in Beauly have been given a stake in the business after it became the latest company in Scotland to become employee-owned. 

Founder Stuart Hutton put the hotel on the market recently and had a couple of trade sale offers, however he didn’t feel that the prospective buyers were the right fit for the hotel.

Under the employee buy-out his son Kenneth will become managing director. Some of the key management team will assume positions on the board. Kate Melens will be the general manager.

Kenneth Hutton said: “Beauly is a small town and many people from the area have worked at the hotel over the years. 

“By selling to his employees, my dad knows that the business he spent 46 years building is now in the hands of a loyal and invested team that wants the best for the hotel and the local area.

“The staff are very excited by the news and are looking forward to learning more about the role they will play in the hotel’s future.”

An Employee Ownership Trust has been formed which will hold 72% of the shares on behalf of the employees. Kenneth Hutton will retain the bulk of the remaining shareholding, to demonstrate that the family remains committed to the continuation of the hotel.

The transition to employee ownership was supported by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) with the process managed by Ownership Associates, legal services by Anderson Strathern and accountancy support from Johnston Carmichael.  

The deal was part financed by Handelsbanken, with the remainder by means of a vendor loan.

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