Highland business owner avoids ‘unsettling staff’

The company has moved into employee ownership
The company has moved into employee ownership

By Ian McConnell

A HIGHLAND timber and building supplies business is moving into employee ownership following its founder’s decision to retire.

Caley Timber and Building Supplies was established by Donald John Morrison in 2003. It has depots in Inverness and Uist, and employs 24 people.

A spokesman said the founder had “rejected an open sale of the business, which would have undoubtedly achieved a higher-value price”, and with his wife and co-owner Jennifer Morrison had decided in favour of entering into an employee ownership trust.

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Ewan Urquhart, who has been with the company since its inception, is being promoted to the board. Alistair Sim remains a director and will assume more responsibilities as Mr Morrison reduces his time with the company.

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Mr Morrison said: “An EOT was a less intrusive option and we did not have to share sensitive information with prospective purchasers, the timing has been controlled to suit the business, and it also avoided the risk of unsettling our staff who may have picked up that the business was for sale.”

Adviser Carole Leslie, of consultancy Ownership Associates, said: “It is evident that Donald has given some serious thought as to how he wants the business he founded almost 20 years ago to continue to benefit the staff who have worked alongside him to make it a success.

“In choosing a third-party sale, Donald could arguably have landed a bigger retirement pay-day but his decision to enter into an EOT was based on more altruistic reasoning, and he assessed this route was the best option for rewarding his colleagues and ensuring a seamless continuity for staff and customers alike.”

Mr Morrison said: "We value the relationships we have built with our customers, their loyalty and support are what’s made Caley Timber the very successful business it has become, and an EOT means business simply continues as is. I am confident our customers will notice absolutely no difference at all to the quality of service.”