Glasgow-based retailer guitarguitar, which now employs 160 people and has a £45 million annual turnover, has unveiled a move into employee ownership.

The in-store and online retailer said that the business restructure means that 60 per cent of all of its shares are now placed into an employee ownership trust, providing the “160-strong team the majority of the business and its profits”.

Now based on the outskirts of Glasgow, guitarguitar has six stores and now sells more than 50,000 guitars a year, from entry-level instruments to collectors’ pieces from big-name brands such as Fender, Gibson, Taylor and Martin.

The retailer, which was founded in Edinburgh in 2004, said founders Kip McBay and Graham Bell had decided to make the switch to employee ownership to allow them to "plan for their respective exits from the company without threatening the legacy of the brand".

Mr Bell said: “Our team are over the moon to find out that they now own a share of this incredible business. guitarguitar’s success is a result of the commitment and hard work of our staff and we have now decided to take the next step and give them their own piece of the company.

“We’ve spent the last 20 years building a brand that we are wholeheartedly passionate about. We wanted to ensure the business means something to future owners when our time comes to take a step back.”

He added: “Not only did we want to reward staff for their efforts at the company but we also wanted to ensure our customers will always be front and centre. Every experience a customer has at guitarguitar will now be with someone who is invested in and committed to delivering outstanding service to musicians.”

Bobby Simpson, operations manager at guitarguitar, said: “This is a fantastic day for the team at guitarguitar. What a brilliant start to the year knowing that Kip and Graham have full confidence in every staff member to continue and develop the guitarguitar legacy.”    

Mr Bell said: “The last 20 years have been an exciting ride for us all in guitarguitar. It’s time for Kip and I to let the next generation take the business into the future.”

Carole Leslie, of consultancy Ownership Associates, provided employee-ownership support for the project.

She said: “This is a great landmark for the musical instrument retail sector and Ownership Associates has enjoyed assisting such a prominent firm within the industry achieve its business goals.

“We’re seeing an abundance of interest in the business structure. When business owners like Kip and Graham are keen to outline their own exit strategy, employee ownership quickly offers itself as a clear option for providing a positive path for both owners and staff.”