A SCOTS book production firm that has helped produce dozens of bestsellers has sold a controlling interest to its employees.

Falkirk-based Palimpsest Book Production Ltd, which says it is one of the UK’s market leaders in book production, moved to employee ownership with 21 workers given a stake in the business at a time when the market is "reasonably buoyant", according to founders Craig and Ruth Morrison, who established the business in 1994.

The move is aimed at keeping the firm and jobs in Scotland when the Morrisons eventually retire.


Above: Craig and Ruth Morrison

Mr Morrison was able to make the idea come to fruition after a seminar on succession planning organised by Co-operative Development Scotland, which supports company growth through collaborative and employee ownership business models.

He said: “We were immediately attracted to the idea of transitioning to employee ownership because it would enable us to realise part of our investment while continuing to work in the business until we are ready to retire.

“Employee ownership will also ensure that Palimpsest continues to thrive, offering employment and careers in Scotland into the future.

"With a client base ranging from leading international publishing companies to self-publishing authors and an ‘end to end’ range of pre-press services, the new Employee Ownership Trust has a strong foundation.”

The trust will hold the shares on behalf of the employees of Palimpsest, which provides pre-press services like typesetting, proofreading, digital publishing, design and reprographics, to the UK publishing market.

Mr Morrison said: “We’ve had an amazing journey over the last 24 years, with clients telling us that we have become their trusted partners in both print and digital book publishing. Ruth and I are delighted we now have a succession solution in place, though have no plans to retire for a while yet."

The company works for trade publishers in commercial fiction and non-fiction.


Above: Palimpsest employees and directors

"We do some academic publishing and some tech books but it is mainly the kind of books you would see in Waterstones or WH Smith’s when you are going your holidays.

"In terms of non-fiction, biographies about Tony Blair, Sir Alex Ferguson, big celebrity biographies, and in terms of fiction, pretty much anything that is in the charts from Steven King to Jeffery Deaver and then some reference material, some sports books, like the rugby year books, but mainly trade commercial fiction and non-fiction."

The firm said ongoing investment in staff training and technology, particularly at the advent of epublishing, has helped maintain Palimpsest’s position at the forefront of the industry.

Turnover for 2016-17 was £1.06 million and this year the firm is on course for around £1.14m for the financial year ending September 30.

Mr Morrison said: "It (the market) is reasonably buoyant.

"Print books about five years ago were in the doldrums because everyone was buying ebooks, then that market got kind of saturated so print books are making a bit of a comeback and sales are up.

"But from our perspective it didn’t really make a huge amount of difference because we do production work for both physical books and ebooks."

Sarah Deas, director at Co-operative Development Scotland, said: “It’s excellent to see yet another business recognising the many benefits of employee ownership, and we are confident the decision will see Palimpsest further cement its position as a market leader in the UK’s book production sector as it continues to flourish and grow.”

Sarah Eddie, newly elected employee trustee, said: “Palimpsest has an exciting future ahead and I look forward to our continued growth under the Employee Ownership Trust.”