A SCOTTISH guitar retailer has struck a chord with their staff by becoming the country’s first musical instrument outlet to move to employee ownership.

Restructuring the guitarguitar chain will see 60% of all its shares put into an employee ownership trust (EOT), giving its team of 160 the majority of the business and its profits.

The online and in-store guitar retailer started at Corstorphine, Edinburgh in 2004 and has expanded to six locations across the UK.

It is now headquartered in Glasgow’s Trongate and sells more than 50,000 guitars a year – from entry-level axes to highly sought-after collectors instruments from the likes of Fender, Gibson, Taylor and Martin.

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Kip McBay and Graham Bell, who co-founded the company, decide to switch to an employee ownership model to allow them to plan their respective exits without threatening the brand’s legacy.

Bell said: “Our team are over the moon to find out that they now own a share of this incredible business. guitarguitar’s success is a 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 company.

“We’ve spent the last 20 years building a brand that we are wholeheartedly passionate about. We wanted to ensure the business means something to future owners when our time comes to take a step back.

“Not only did we want to reward staff for their efforts at the company but we also wanted to ensure our customers will always be front and centre. Every experience a customer has at guitarguitar will now be with someone who is invested in and committed to delivering outstanding service to musicians.”

The firm has an annual turnover of £45 million and is the first musical instrument retailer in the UK to take the step into employee ownership, an increasingly popular business model.

Their operations manager, Bobby Simpson, said: “This is a fantastic day for the team at guitarguitar.

“What a brilliant start to the year knowing that Kip and Graham have full confidence in every staff member to continue and develop the guitarguitar legacy.”

Specialists in the field EY advised on the move and Douglas Roberts of Lindsays provided legal advice.

Roberts said: “guitarguitar is a brilliant Scottish business success story. Graham and Kip wanted to reward their staff and safeguard the future of the business while protecting the ethos they have built.”

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Carole Leslie, from Ownership Associates, who helped support the project, said: “This is a great landmark for the musical instrument retail sector and Ownership Associates has enjoyed assisting such a prominent firm within the industry achieve its business goals.

“We’re seeing an abundance of interest in the business structure. When business owners like Kip and Graham are keen to outline their own exit strategy, employee ownership quickly offers itself as a clear option for providing a positive path for both owners and staff.”

Bell added: “The last 20 years have been an exciting ride for us all in guitarguitar. It’s time for Kip and I to let the next generation take the business into the future.”