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Stornoway company becomes employee owned

Published: 05/09/2019

Eighteen staff at MacTV at Isle of Lewis-based MacTV have been given a stake in the business after it becomes Scotland’s latest employee-owned business.

Established in Stornoway in 2001, award-winning MacTV is the largest independent TV company in the Highlands and Islands Specialising in factual documentary, arts and music programmes in Gaelic and in English.

When managing director Bill Morrison began to look ahead to his retirement, there were many considerations, including a preference to try and ensure that the business remained based in Stornoway.  

He identified employee ownership as a potential ideal solution, and he subsequently got in touch with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to explore the option in more detail.

From there, he was introduced to Co-operative Development Scotland, the arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies that supports company growth through collaborative and employee ownership business models.

Bill said: “In the 18 years since it was established, the hugely talented and hardworking team here at MacTV have helped build a highly regarded production company which is recognised at both a national and international level for producing important and compelling programming with Scotland’s unique spirit at its heart. With a workforce truly rooted in the community, the passion, skills and local knowledge of our staff is vital to the quality of our output.

Head of Co-operative Development Scotland, Clare Alexander, said: “It’s great to see that a business with such a distinct and important offering is handing over the reins to its staff. Companies in Scotland are increasingly recognising the many benefits that can be gained from employee ownership, such as its effectiveness at retaining skills and jobs locally. This is particularly crucial in areas like Stornoway, where small businesses are a key driver of employment and provide a significant contribution to the local economy. We wish mactv every success and look forward to seeing how the workforce shapes its future.”

“A traditional trade sale may have seen us bought by a competitor, potentially risking job security and compromising our offering. Employee ownership ensures that the company is owned by and run for the benefit of those most close to it, while providing ongoing economic benefit to the area by anchoring the work and jobs in the local community. Our new employee owners now have an increased stake in their own future, with a say in the business, empowering them to shape its direction and drive growth.”

John Macdonald, account manager at HIE’s area team in Stornoway, said: “MacTV is a significant employer in Stornoway, and we are pleased to support them with a grant of £8,500 towards the process of the employee buyout. Transferring ownership to employees is a great option for the business and is an effective way to drive business performance by boosting productivity, increase employee engagement and keep the company in the community. By making this move, the owners have secured these jobs and the long-term presence of the company on the island.”

Statistics demonstrate that employee-owned businesses consistently outperform their non EO counterparts in terms of higher levels of profitability, increased productivity brought about by higher levels of engagement and enhanced employee wellbeing, as well as improved business resilience during times of recession. Within Scotland, there are now around 110 employee-owned companies operating, with approximately 7,500 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of around £950 million. 

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