Auchrannie becomes Scotland's first employee-owned resort

Published
Image source, Andrew Surridge
Image caption,
Linda Johnston, right, co-founded the Auchrannie resort in 1988

The Isle of Arran resort of Auchrannie has become the first in Scotland to be owned by its employees.

The resort has been owned and operated by the Johnston family since 1988 and is valued at £4.3m.

An Employee Ownership Trust now holds 100% of the company's shares on behalf of its 160 employees.

The existing shareholders, all members of the Johnston family, will be paid out of the profits of the business over a 25-year period.

When Iain and Linda Johnston bought Auchrannie in 1988 it was a 16-bedroom guest house.

The family has since grown it into a resort with two hotels totalling 85 rooms, 30 self-catering lodges, three restaurants, two leisure clubs and an outdoor adventure centre.

'Amazing experiences'

Ms Johnston, who has led the company as managing director since 2010, said: "Employee ownership will give the whole Auchrannie team a stake in the continued growth of the business.

"All of us will work together to build a more efficient, sustainable and profitable business.

"We are all excited to continue on our journey in which we strive to lead the way in Scottish tourism and create amazing experiences for our guests and an awesome place to work for our team."

Image source, Andy Surridge
Image caption,
The resort is now owned by its 160 employees

Mr Johnston died in 2015 and Ms Johnston remained the majority shareholder until Auchrannie moved into employee ownership in November 2017.

The existing management team, including Ms Johnston as managing director and board chairwoman, will remain in place.

Shareholders do not pay capital gains tax on the sale of holdings to an Employee Ownership Trust.

The resort's transition to employee ownership received funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS).

Sarah Deas, director at CDS, a government agency which promotes employee ownership, said: "Being on an island, a change to the ownership of a resort like Auchrannie could seriously affect the economy of the whole island.

"The change to employee ownership means that the team at Auchrannie and the community of Arran can relax knowing that it will always remain an independent, locally-run organisation with community values at heart."

There are 92 employee-owned companies operating in Scotland with approximately 7,000 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of about £930m.

Auchrannie had a turnover of £7.2m in 2017.