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Forres firm looks to employee ownership

Published: 08/03/2021

A solar energy manufacturer in Forres, Moray is to continue its expansion in a move that will increase turnover, create jobs and take the next steps towards employee ownership.

AES Solar has secured up to £50,000 investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

This will contribute to the costs of setting up an employee ownership trust, graduate placement projects and a company-wide training programme.

AES Solar is the only company in Scotland to design and manufacture its own solar thermal panels, as well as specialising in the installation of solar thermal and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

The firm has continuously evolved over its 41 plus years to become Scotland’s solar experts, including the latest advances in battery storage, electric vehicle charging and off-grid systems.

It also has an established track record in research and development in the solar energy sector, partnering with leading academic institutions and commercial players worldwide.

HIE facilitated an employee ownership feasibility study for the company, which examined potential ownership structures, governance, management, funding and how a transition could occur. 

An employee ownership trust was selected as the preferred option. It would give employees a meaningful stake in the business, helping to safeguard the company and ensure it remains in Moray and contributes to the local economy.

The graduate placement projects would see AES Solar hire two graduate level employees, on an initial 12-month basis, with a view to full time employment thereafter.

The company-wide training programme will strengthen the company’s technical, business and people skills over a two-year period. The programme’s development follows a skills for growth audit facilitated by HIE through Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

Scott McKnockiter, HIE business development account manager, said:

“Demand for renewable energy solutions, such as those produced by AES Solar, is likely to increase significantly as we move towards a carbon neutral economy.

“This investment will help the company to benefit from this increase in demand and boost its international market share. This will also strengthen the company’s status as an employer of good quality jobs in Forres.

“I am very pleased we have been able to provide this support and look forward to continuing to work with the firm as they implement their ambitious plans.”

George Goudsmit, managing director at AES Solar, said:

“We are extremely thankful for the ongoing support and working relationship we have developed with HIE over the years. It is a pleasure to work with Scott and the team at HIE who are always available to offer feedback and advice. Working with HIE allows us to benefit from and contribute to being part of this unique centre of local expertise.

“We are very hopeful for the future at AES Solar and know we will grow from strength to strength when these exciting business developments get underway.”

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