Staff unite to buy Hebridean Jewellery from owner

Celtic jewellery manufacturer sold to staff to keep company local.

Hebridean Jewellery, which specialises in Celtic jewellery designs, has been sold to its employees in a deal which secures the future of the company and the jobs it offers.

The company, which was founded in 1974 by John Hart, is based on the Outer Hebrides island of South Uist. It manufactures silver and gold jewellery with Celtic and Pictish influences, and has retail premises on the Isle of Lewis and the Isle of Skye.

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The buyout by staff came after Hart announced plans to retire from the business but wished to keep the company going and part of the local community, with some of his employees working for the company for more than 20 years.

Hart attended a conference focused on employee ownership and decided that this offered the best solution for all parties. He took advice from the Baxi Partnership and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and began the buyout process.

Highland Jewellery’s staff have purchased the company from Hart through a funding package of a bank loan and vendor finance.

The new ownership model includes an employee benefit trust and a tax efficient share incentive plan, and the Baxi Partnership has continued to work with the company, providing support and advice about the development of the deal structure and ownership model.

The Partnership has also trained the employees, both on the rights and responsibilities of ownership and, for a handful, their new roles as directors or trustees.

Hart said: “After 35 years we were ready for retirement, however we wanted to see the company sustained in the local community and to continue prospering. We are delighted that the business is now owned by our former employees as it could not be in better hands.

“The advice and support we have received from Co-operative Development Scotland, Baxi Partnership and Highlands and Islands Enterprise has also been outstanding. For any business owners thinking of exiting but keen to see their business sustained, we would strongly recommend an employee ownership option. This business model is good for the owners, good for the employees and good for local communities.”

New managing director William MacPhee added: “Hebridean Jewellery has an exciting future, particularly as we develop new markets through the internet. Many people have contributed to the success of the company, but we would particularly like to pay tribute to the local community and wholesale customers who have supported us over the years and who have, in many ways, helped build the business. In addition, on behalf of the new owners, I would like to thank the Harts for giving us the opportunity and CDS, Baxi Partnership and HIE for facilitating the employee buyout.”

The company will now look at expansion plans, including increased sales to the USA, where the company already enjoy healthy demand.

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