Staff become owners of luxury kitchen design firm based in Edinburgh and Glasgow

A high-end kitchen business with studios in Edinburgh and Glasgow, is thought to have become the first employee-owned firm of its kind in the UK.

Kirsten Robeson will remain managing director of Cameron Interiors for the medium term, fully supporting and advising the business before ultimately retiring.
Kirsten Robeson will remain managing director of Cameron Interiors for the medium term, fully supporting and advising the business before ultimately retiring.

Cameron Interiors, which was founded in 1979, has become renowned for selling luxury German kitchens. It is the country’s only Bulthaup dealer.

Since 1997 the business has been owned and run by managing director Kirsten Robeson and her husband Ian. It has grown to a team of 12 across the two locations, supported by an installation team, some of whom have been with the business for more than 40 years.

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Having initially considered a trade sale, the owners have instead opted to “entrust and empower their dedicated team”, who work with private clients, architects and developers.

All shares in Cameron Interiors have now been placed into an employee ownership trust with staff immediately becoming beneficiaries. In time, all employees can benefit from an annual share of any profits.

Kirsten, who hails from Glasgow and has been with the firm since leaving college in 1993, said: “This is my chance to ‘pay it forward’ to a brilliant team that have enabled us to cement our position in the market and allow us all to look forward to a bright future.

“Designing kitchens at this upper end of the market is a deeply personal process and the people and the service are as essential as the unwavering quality of the product.

“The notion of selling to a trade buyer was a non-starter, as so much would be put at risk. When I found out about employee-ownership I was intrigued – and huge thanks to Linzi Wilson of Consilium for guiding us through the process as smoothly as possible.”

Kirsten will remain managing director for the medium term, fully supporting and advising the business before ultimately retiring with Ian to spend more time with their family.

She will also take a seat on the trust board alongside Edinburgh manager Louise Delaney, who has many years’ experience working to grow the business and is said to have played a crucial role in its east coast expansion.

Aileen Wilson will remain Glasgow store manager, having played an integral role in the management team.

Linzi Wilson of accountancy firm Consilium said: “Consilium are delighted to have advised Cameron Interiors on the successful transition to employee ownership. It has been a pleasure to work with Kirsten and the team and look forward to the business flourishing under the new ownership structure.

“It was evident from our initial discussions with Kirsten that preserving the legacy of the business and protecting the workforce and her loyal clients were significant priorities for her when considering the options for succession.

“This is the third employee buyout we have advised on in recent months, all completed since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Employee ownership can be an excellent solution for business owners who are considering their succession planning options.”

Within Scotland, there are now some 120 employee-owned companies operating, with about 7,500 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of almost £1 billion.

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