Leith's Wee Blue Coo print and design firm moves to employee ownership after 15 years

Leith company Wee Blue Coo has thanked its employees for their hard work during the pandemic by handing over ownership of the business to them.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 4:45 pm
Wee Blue Coo Ltd has moved to employee ownership

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The print and design firm was launched by husband and wife duo Bob and Joelle Kirkpatrick in 2008, after they were both made redundant from their jobs two years earlier.

Fifteen years later, Wee Blue Coo has an annual revenue of more than £2million and a 30-strong team of staff, some of whom have been with the company for more than 10 years.

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One of those is Allan Gray, who was given a 10 per cent shareholding for his dedication.

And the three shareholders have now agreed to move to employee ownership to bring the structure more in line with the company’s values and safeguard the future of the business.

Joelle said: “Being a people led business has always been the very essence of who we are, which is why becoming an Employee-Owned business was the only option that was seriously considered.

“Running our business this way has ensured we have a motivated and dedicated team who feel valued. That has always been more important to us than the bottom line. Relaying this news to our team has, without a doubt, been the highlight of my career so far.”

Bob added: “There are perhaps more well-known ways to make an exit from a business, however, this was the only real option to ensure we safeguarded the futures of those who have contributed to our company’s success. The Employee Ownership Trust seems like a perfect and logical way to structure any business.”

The team are said to have been ‘shocked and delighted’ by the news and excited to be given the chance to shape the future of the company.

Graeme Slater, Warehouse Manager, said: “Now that we are an employee-owned company it means that we all have a say in the direction the company takes in the future. This is a great opportunity to help us to grow as a company and offers us the chance to enjoy a more secure and prosperous future.”

The Kirkpatricks began exploring the succession model in 2019, before enlisting the help of David Morrison of EQ Accountants, and began the process of transitioning to an Employee Ownership Trust at the start of this year.

David Morrison said, “Having advised Bob, Joelle and the team for many years, it is great to see them safeguard the future of their business by handing control to their dedicated workforce.

“This is great example of using an EOT as a solution to succession, whilst ensuring that employees are rewarded for their hard work. We look forward to continuing to support Wee Blue Coo as they thrive as an employee-owned business.”

Carole Leslie, founder of Ownership Associates which facilitated the move alongside EQ Accountants and Anderson Strathearn, added: “It is inspiring to see two entrepreneurs succeed in their business throughout the difficulties of redundancy and a global financial crash. It is testament to their hard work that they have reached this momentous milestone.

“Bob and Joelle have always looked to put their staff first, and this transition is another chapter for the couple and the business. I would like to congratulate Wee Blue Coo Ltd, and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.”

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