The growing trend of employee ownership has emerged as a major theme in Scottish business in recent years. Stories of company owners transferring shareholdings into employee ownership trusts to safeguard the future of their businesses have become commonplace, to the extent there are now 182 employee-owned concerns in Scotland, with that number expected to reach 200 in the first half of the year.

But not every firm which makes this move has the history and intrigue of the latest one to make the leap.

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Keppie, the historic Glasgow architecture firm, is likely to forever hold a place in the city’s cultural life thanks to its association with Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It was while working as a partner at Keppie that Mackintosh designed Glasgow School of Art, perhaps his most famous commission.

Keppie has in the 170 years-plus go on to work on a number of other prominent buildings, including the brutalist Glasgow Sheriff Court, which opened in 1986, and is continuing to develop high-profile projects to this day.

In a statement today, shareholders Peter Moran, Fraser Low, Richard MacDonald and David Ross, who staged a management buyout of the firm in 2018, said “huge personal investment” from Keppie’s staff had “driven the special culture and hard-earned reputation” the firm enjoys. As they assessed options to safeguard the future of the practice, they reached the conclusion that placing its ownership into employee hands offered the best chance to preserve those qualities.

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“The outstanding loyalty and contribution of Keppie employees over the years has earned our practice the reputation it has today,” said Mr Moran, Keppie’s managing director. “We believe that the best people to own the future of Keppie are the people who know it best – our present and future employees.”

He added: “The EOT (employee ownership trust) will provide a platform for our business to grow, with a commitment to continual professional and personal improvement and innovation to ensure Keppie maintains its position as a market leader.”