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Employee-owned Accord on course to beat turnover target

SCOTLAND's first employee owned start-up has said it is on course to reach more than £5 million in turnover.

Oil and gas consultancy Accord Energy Solutions was set up in 2010 with designs on building an entirely employee-owned business from the ground up.

Alan Spence, one of the founding directors of Accord, said there was a desire to give workers greater influence over the direction of the company and ensure successes were shared equally.

It had originally targeted a £5m turnover within five years but is on track to reach and breach that goal.

Mr Spence believes it is all due to the strength of employee ownership. Speaking as part of Employee Ownership Day, he said: "Without jumping the gun a bit, I feel there is nothing to suggest we won't reach the £5.5m mark.

"And without a doubt, we would not have been able to do this had it not been for the employee ownership model we have here.

"All our employees, as share-holders, are given access to every piece of information about the company.

"Each one can have influence on how the business is run and it is that collective influence we have harnessed here."

By October 2013, Accord, which specialises in hydrocarbon accounting for oil companies, was able to boast a turnover of £4.3m, while providing staff bonuses of around 12 per cent of their salaries.

It currently has 30 employees on its books, although it occasionally works with 12 associate consultants.

Mr Spence added: "This model is able to attract the best, most qualified workers and helps to retain them.

"In over four years, we have only lost two members of staff and when you consider the high rate of employee turnover in some business, it is really quite remarkable.

"And again this only serves to highlight the long-term stability which comes from the employee ownership model."

Employee-owned businesses in Scotland have more than 8,000 people and a combined annual turnover of £1 billion.

The number of companies has doubled since 2009 and, according to Co-operative Development Scotland, is likely to increase ten-fold in the next ten years.

Chris Parr, chief executive of paper maker Tullis Russell, the largest single employee-owned business in Scotland, said: "Our structure facilitates independent decision making allowing us to focus on the long-term without the short-term pressures often imposed by external shareholders."

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