ARCHAEOLOGICAL services provider Guard Archaeology Limited, whose work includes finding a previously unknown Roman army camp in Ayr and locating the real battlefield of Bannockburn, is the latest business in Scotland to become employee owned.

Thirty-two members of staff at the company were given a stake in the business after the firm’s majority shareholders looked for a solution that would allow them to step back and plan their eventual exit from the business, as well as maintain financial success for the future.

The business, which has offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh, was formerly part of Glasgow University and started trading as an independent company in 2011.

It was previously owned by 11 employee shareholders and is now one of Scotland’s leading commercial archaeology companies.

The idea of employee ownership was first introduced to the company by their accountant RJ Hart and the process began in July of last year.

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Along with its recent findings in Ayr and Bannockburn, in Carnoustie the company excavated the largest Neolithic hall ever found in Scotland, while in Galloway it uncovered a lost Dark Age royal stronghold.

In addition, the company works with local community heritage groups.

John Atkinson, managing director at Guard Archaeology, said: “The matter of succession had originally been in the back of our minds as something we would need to consider eventually, however, when we started exploring employee ownership as a potential solution, we were so sold on the benefits that we decided to make the transition sooner rather than later.”

Ronan Toolis, commercial director, said: “The transition to an Employee Ownership Trust strengthens the long-term future of our company, and by retaining employee ownership we are maintaining the original ethos.

“Given we were owned by several shareholders who all worked in the business, it was important to us that the company wasn’t sold to a single buyer or that control of the company was moved out of Scotland where the bulk of our work is undertaken.”