Web agency Spider Online joins ranks of employee-owned Scots firms

Digital agency Spider Online has announced that it is joining the growing number of employee-owned businesses in Scotland, saying the move will help take it “to the next stage”.

The Glasgow-based firm, which was founded by John Campbell and Tony O'Grady in 2004, specialises in website and app delivery, serving customers across government, transport and HR. Its clients include FirstGroup, Tesco Bank, Cosla, Audit Scotland, National Transport Authority Ireland, Imperial College London, and Bristol Airport.

It said the change in business structure sees the formation of an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT), which holds 100 per cent of the shares on behalf of the employees. Consequently, Mr Campbell will take the chairman reins, with Ross Hamill becoming managing director.

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Spider Online executives Lesley Connelly, Ross Hamill, and David McNee. Picture: contributed.Spider Online executives Lesley Connelly, Ross Hamill, and David McNee. Picture: contributed.
Spider Online executives Lesley Connelly, Ross Hamill, and David McNee. Picture: contributed.
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The move to employee ownership was supported by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), which is part of Scottish Enterprise, serving as the arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies that supports company growth through collaborative and employee-ownership business models.

CDS funded a feasibility study, allowing Spider Online bosses to consider whether to move to employee ownership. Once the company had decided to proceed, its transition was project-managed by 4-consulting, with legal services from Blackadders and financial inputs from accountancy firm Milne Craig.

Mr Campbell said: “We started the business three years before Steve Jobs launched the iPhone, and four years before the financial crash – and I don't think we ever thought it would still be around 18 years later.

"There have been so many technological, political and economic changes in that time, with numerous challenges, successes and failures, so it's incredibly rewarding to see Spider Online prosper as a profitable business in a competitive sector.

“During this time we’ve also witnessed the development of our brilliant team. Now feels like the right time, along with support from Scottish Enterprise, to create an EOT allowing these talented people to take the business to the next stage and the next 18 years. I know that, as MD, Ross will guide our continued success and future growth.”

CDS boss Clare Alexander said: “The number of employee-owned businesses in Scotland continues to grow, and we’re delighted to add Spider Online to this group.


"This is a great business which is hugely successful in its field, and the transfer of ownership to its employees is a fantastic fit for its collaborative and innovative culture. I look forward to following the continued success story of Spider Online as it evolves as an employee-owned business.”

There are now more than 170 employee-owned [EO] businesses operating in Scotland, more than 120 of which are Scottish-headquartered, CDS said.

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Firms north of the Border to have moved to such a model in recent months include two Edinburgh firms, namely childcare business Kidzcare, and guitar and musical instrument retailer GuitarGuitar.

CDS added that EO businesses have been found to consistently outperform their non-EO counterparts in terms of profitability, productivity brought about by higher levels of engagement, and enhanced employee wellbeing, as well as improved business resilience during times of economic crisis including the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

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