Ayrshire bus and coach company changes lanes to employee-ownership model

A Kilwinning-based bus and coach firm has become employee-owned, giving all 70 staff a stake as the current MD plans for his eventual retirement.

Shuttle Buses says it was established in 1990, has 60 vehicles, and operates both commercial and subsidised local bus services – including school and private contracts, the MyBus on-demand service, and private coach hire. It says a key driver for moving to employee ownership was to “retain the ethos and culture of the company whilst anchoring it in the local community”.

Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), which is part of Scottish Enterprise and helps firms adopt collaborative and employee ownership business models, assisted the company with the move, with the latter project-managed by 4-consulting, with legal services from Blackadders, and financial inputs from Williams & Company.

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Shuttle Buses managing director David Granger said: “Having considered various exit strategies, it was clear that employee ownership was the best way forward for both me and the business. We have a great workforce, some of whom have been with the company for almost as long as I have, and safeguarding their future was equally important to me as my own.

“Despite having grown to 70 employees we have managed to retain much of the ethos of a family company; my son and youngest daughter both work here and I think a trade sale could have been disastrous for both them and our other employees. Employee ownership gave me a tax-efficient exit, yet retaining both a role and a shareholding in the business, whilst passing on the role of managing director to my son.”

Clare Alexander, who leads CDS, said: “It’s wonderful to see a company like Shuttle Buses embracing employee ownership. Adopting this business model is a great way to preserve the company’s culture even after the original founder retires – something that’s especially important when that company is providing vital lifeline services to the local community.

“More and more Scottish businesses are transitioning to employee ownership and we’re proud to support them on that journey. The fact that we’ve already reached more than 200 employee-owned businesses in Scotland is a fantastic achievement, but with a Scottish government target of growing that to 500 by 2030, we’re working hard to raise awareness and facilitate even more transitions.”

The team at Kilwinning-based Shuttle Buses - all 70 employees have been given a stake in the business. Picture: contributed.
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