Perth-based Tayplay becomes employee-owned

Part of the Tayplay team

A Perth-based manufacturer of rope, playground and climbing equipment for the playground and leisure industry has announced it has become Scotland’s latest employee-owned business.

The move by Tayplay has seen its 14 members of staff given the opportunity to become owners in the business.

Founded in 1994 by Andrew Hoddle, Tayplay has developed into one of the UK’s leading supplier of rope playground equipment, manufacturing hundreds of net products, shipped worldwide every year. The company has an annual turnover of £2m.

Tayplay’s managing director Peter Will said: “Following the recession we experienced a difficult trading period and we were considering a trade sale. However, we could not agree terms and after a strategic review we decided to look more closely at the employee ownership business model. Co-operative Development Scotland then conducted a feasibility study and we quickly discovered employee ownership ticked all of our boxes. No other options were even seriously considered at that stage.

“Our EO journey started in 2014 and so far we have been able to meet all of our targets in terms of the sale price, timescales and the fact we’ve been able to retain the business in Perth. EO is the ideal solution for retiring owners who want to preserve the ethos of the business and retain employment locally. It is also a reward for the staff as we wanted to recognise the contribution and commitment they’ve made to the company’s success.”

An Employee Ownership Trust has acquired a controlling interest in Tayplay and will hold these shares on behalf of the employees. It is envisaged that they will eventually own 100% of the company.

Peter continued: “We spent quite a bit of time working with specialist advisors such as Alistair Gibb from Scottish Enterprise, Co-operative Development and Co-ownership Solutions, undertaking meetings with the staff to help them understand the concept of employee ownership. Our employees now really believe in the new model and we expect the degree of buy-in to increase now that the deal has gone through. As the employees begin to see and feel the reality of EO we expect their commitment to the company will grow and it will make recruitment easier.”

There are 78 employee-owned companies in Scotland, with approximately 6,500 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of around £900million.

Research shows that selling a company to its employees, or implementing an employee share plan, can boost productivity, increase employee engagement and keep the business in the community.

Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), Scottish Enterprise’s employee ownership support arm, guided and supported the Tayplay’s transition to employee ownership providing advice on the implementation of the new ownership structure.

CDS director Sarah Deas added: “Tayplay is a very successful business and the owners wanted to ensure that continued before their retirement. It was also important to them that the ethos of the company was preserved and that the employment was retained in Perth; 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.”

Statistics consistently demonstrate that employee-owned businesses outperform their non EO counterparts in terms of higher levels of profitability; improved business resilience during times of recession; increased productivity brought about by higher levels of engagement and enhanced employee wellbeing.

Sarah Deas concluded: “By promoting more EO companies, we can help drive growth in Scotland’s economy and create greater wealth equality in our society.”