The owners of New Hopetoun Gardens near Edinburgh have transferred ownership to an employee trust to secure the centre’s future for its staff.
In considering their own futures after 40 years running the business, Dougal Philip and Lesley Watson felt selling up to a third party would not guarantee security for the staff and customers and protect their life’s work. An Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) was suggested by their lawyer.
The arrangement hands a controlling majority of the shares to the trust, – a limited company run by three employees and an external trustee. The purchase price for the £2m turnover business will be covered by accumulating dividends over the next decade, without staff having to pay for shares.
Scottish Enterprise have provided grants to cover a proportion of the costs. Under EOT rules, owners can sell a business to employees without paying Capital Gains Tax.
New Hopetoun Gardens’ office manager Morag Macrea (above, right, with Lesley and Dougal) takes on the role of managing director, leading a staff of 36. Lesley and Dougal will remain with the business for five years but reduce their input as the new regime takes over.
Dougal Philip is a past president of the HTA a vice president of the RHS, for who he is also a shows judge.