Fife tachograph specialist Lisle Design changes lane to employee ownership

A technology firm focused on road transport is looking to continue accelerating after becoming the 99th firm in Scotland to this year move to employee ownership.

St. Andrews-based Lisle Design, which has grown to a £2 million revenue firm in 15 years, implemented the succession model with the support of employee-ownership specialist Ownership Associates.

The 14-strong firm specialises in the tachograph field – technology that records vehicle information regarding driving time, speed and distance – and it counts German multinationals Continental and ZF Group among its client base.

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The business was set up in 2002 by MD Mike Lisle from his home, and it says it was the first company to develop a digital tachograph download tool, Digidown, which is now used throughout Europe to provide quick intelligence on driving data.

The firm is said to be the 99th in Scotland to move to employee ownership this year. Picture: contributed.

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Lisle Design in 2007 took up residence in the St. Andrews New Technology Centre, and was growing well until March 2020, when sales “fell off a cliff” due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, its fortunes have now reversed.

Mr Lisle said: “Despite Covid, we managed to carry on and by the end of the financial year to March 2021 had recovered the lost ground. The current financial year is back on target for 20 per cent growth.”

He had for some time been looking towards a succession plan and decided on employee ownership after considering a number of options. “We are proud to support, and be supported by subcontractors across Scotland: from metal work in Musselburgh and plastic mouldings in Glenrothes, to circuit board assembly in Livingston and so on. These partnerships are incredibly important to our success – going with a corporate company may have put these at risk.”

Ownership Associates says it plays a key role in business transitions in Scotland, with more than 40 since its inception in 2010. Director Carole Leslie said: “Lisle Design is a perfect example of a business capitalising on a gap within its market, and gaining international recognition for its excellence. [Its] transition is a mark of security and progression as more and more businesses are looking to the employee ownership succession model.

“We hope this will encourage more businesses within the transport sector to consider adopting employee ownership.”

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