Dalkeith bingo staff hit the jackpot in Scotland’s largest employee takeover

More than 200 trusted employees at a major Scottish bingo business with a branch in Dalkeith are set to bag a full house as it makes the move to employee ownership.

By Kevin Quinn
Monday, 13th June 2022, 10:51 am
Updated Monday, 13th June 2022, 10:52 am

Carlton Bingo’s Dalkeith branch has 10 employees and is part of the 10-venue chain that has made the move to employee ownership in what has become Scotland's largest and latest employee owned firm.

The firm also has locations in Inverness, Stirling, Livingston, Dunfermline, Buckie, Elgin, Fraserburgh, East Kilbride and Partick in Glasgow, the company has now put its shares into an Employee Ownership Trust [EOT], which will see its staff given a controlling stake in the business.

Carole Leslie of Ownership Associates worked with directors on the programme of employee communication throughout the transition.

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The exterior of Carlton Bingo, Dalkeith.

She said: “It was a fabulous experience meeting so many employees who are so loyal to their company and genuinely enjoy their jobs.

“The idea of employee ownership was largely unknown by most of the staff, but once explained, was recognised as a generous gesture by the former shareholders.”

The four major shareholders Chris Barr, George Carter, Brian King and Peter Perrins decided to transition the business into employee ownership after considering their succession options and acknowledging their staff’s loyalty and commitment.

George Carter said: “It might sound like a cliché but we are very much like a family business here. The sale to an EOT fitted exactly with what we wanted. We have to wait a few years to realise our full value, but we judged that to be a risk worth taking to preserve all that’s good about Carlton for our customers and our staff.

"A management buyout was a real possibility – our management team are hugely respected within the business – but that really only defers the problem of succession. By transferring the shareholding to an EOT, the future of Carlton Bingo is secure for our loyal staff and customers.”