CO-OPERATIVE Development Scotland (CDS) and Hebridean Jewellery today hosted a special event in the United Nations-led International Year of Co-operatives 2012.
Established in 1974 in Iochdar on the Isle of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, Hebridean Jewellery are manufacturers of silver and gold jewellery from the Pictish and Celtic periods through to the new millennium range.
The company founder John Hart was determined to protect the legacy of the company he built up by hand for 35 years.
He and his team of expert craftsmen have reaped the benefits since the business became employee owned in July 2011.
The company is now employee owned
The deal secured the future of the company, around 14 jobs and important design and manufacturing skills in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The employee-owners now plan to grow the business by significantly increasing internet sales, in particular to the US.
The event was attended by Alasdair Allan MSP for the Western Isles and by Sarah Deas, chief executive, Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS). They met with employees from Hebridean Jewellery and heard how workers in the firm have now become stakeholders.
Sarah Deas, chief executive of Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), said: “Hebridean Jewellery has shone since it became employee owned and has become more productive. This is a business model that can also safeguard jobs in local communities.
The move will secure 14 jobs
“It has been a real delight to hear first-hand how employees can become masters of their own destinies. There is more interest across Scotland in employee ownership with a growing number of companies now adopting this business model. We encourage more business owners to consider this exit option.”
John Hart, founder of Hebridean Jewellery, said: “After 35 years we were ready for retirement; however we wanted to see the company sustained in the local community and to continue prospering. We are delighted that the business is now owned by our former employees as it could not be in better hands.
“We’ve had great support along the way from CDS, Baxi Partnership and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. This business model is good for the owners, good for the employees and good for local communities.”
Alasdair Allan, MSP for Western Isles, said: “It has been very interesting to hear first-hand from workers at Hebridean Jewellery the benefits of becoming employee owned.
“It is a business model where productivity thrives and it ensures that jobs are secured for the local community. We hope that other companies in the Western Isles, and Scotland as a whole, will consider the employee owned business model.”