Jerba Campervans, a North Berwick campervan firm, has become the latest business succession to join the growing number of employee-owned companies in Scotland. Co-ownership Solutions LLP managed the business succession transition with support from Blackadders LLP and the transition was supported by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS).
Founded in 2006 by husband-and-wife team Simon Poole and Catherine Brookes, Jerba Campervans specialises in converting Volkswagen Transporters into luxury mobile accommodation. The company employs 15 people who now own 100 per cent of the shares via an Employee Ownership Trust.
“The matter of succession had originally been in the back of our minds as something we would need to properly consider in around five years’ time, 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,” Poole said.
“Employee ownership is an excellent business model which benefits everyone. Catherine and I can continue with our day-to-day roles in the business for as long as we need to, with the knowledge that the future is taken care of, while our employees are given a stake in the business and a say in how it is run.
“Not only de we envisage this driving job satisfaction, productivity and innovation, it ensures that the business’ unique ethos is preserved.” Poole maintains that the firm’s success lies in their “extensive first-hand experience”. “We felt that this intimate approach and the niche upon which the business was founded could be lost if Jerba was sold to another business,” he added.
Protecting jobs was a further consideration: “Many employees have been with us for between five and 10 years and have played a vital role in the growth and success of Jerba Campervans,” Poole said.
“Moving into employee ownership gives job certainty to everyone who works here and enables them to have proper control of their future.”
Andrew Harrison, a Partner at Co-ownership Solutions, added “employee ownership is increasingly being identified by owners as an ideal business succession scenario. Recent figures show there are currently 95 employee-owned companies operating in Scotland employing approximately 7,000 people and generating combined annual revenues of approximately £940m. There is absolutely no reason why this success cannot be replicated in other parts of the UK”.