guitarguitar goes employee share ownership

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Glasgow-based retailer Guitarguitar, which now employs 160 people and has an annual turnover of £45m, has unveiled its move to employee ownership.

The in-store and online retailer said the restructuring of the business means that 60% of all its shares are now placed in an employee share trust, giving “the team of 160 a majority of the company and its benefits”.

Now based on the outskirts of Glasgow, guitarguitar has six stores and now sells over 50,000 guitars a year, from entry-level instruments to collector’s items from top brands such as Fender, Gibson, Taylor and Martin.

The retailer, which was founded in Edinburgh in 2004, said founders Kip McBay and Graham Bell decided to move to employee ownership to allow them to “plan their respective exits from the business without threatening the legacy of the brand”.

Mr Bell said: “Our team is delighted to find that they now own a share of this incredible business. The success of guitarguitar is the result of the commitment and hard work of our staff and we have now decided to take the next step and give them their own piece of the business.

“We have spent the past 20 years building a brand that we are passionate about. We wanted to make sure the business means something to future owners when it comes time to step back.

He added: “We not only wanted to reward staff for their efforts in the business, but we also wanted to make sure that our customers will always be front and center. Every experience a customer has at guitarguitar will now be with someone who is invested and committed to providing exceptional service to musicians.

Bobby Simpson, Operations Manager at guitarguitar, said: “It’s been a fantastic day for the guitarguitar team. What a brilliant start to the year knowing that Kip and Graham have full confidence in every member of staff to continue and grow the guitarguitar legacy.

Mr Bell said: “The last 20 years have been an exciting adventure for all of us when it comes to guitars. It’s time for Kip and I to let the next generation lead the company into the future.

Carole Leslie, from consulting firm Ownership Associates, provided employee share ownership support for the project.

She said: “This is an important milestone for the musical instrument retail industry and Ownership Associates has been pleased to help such an important company within the industry achieve its business goals.

“We are seeing an abundance of interest in the structure of the company. When business owners like Kip and Graham want to set their own exit strategy, employee ownership quickly presents itself as a clear option to provide a positive path for owners and staff. »

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