Upmarket Edinburgh interior design firm makes switch to employee ownership
A “premium” furniture and interior design firm based in Edinburgh has become one of the 100-plus Scottish businesses owned by their employees.
Tangram Furnishers, which operates from a showroom and office in Edinburgh city centre, specialises in the upper end of the market and works with clients, designers and architects to specify and supply contemporary furniture, lighting, blinds and rugs.
The business was founded in the early 1990s with Julian Darwell-Stone joining the firm in 1998, becoming sole owner and managing director in 2003.
He said: “When I started to think about the future of the business and my eventual retirement, I knew I didn’t want to simply shut up shop and end something I’ve worked extremely hard to build. I also knew I had a long-serving and incredibly loyal team and I wanted the business to continue in its current form for them.
“I didn’t want to sell to a third party and see the business absorbed into another organisation with different values or a strategy that might not match ours.
“We have developed a very successful business together and have created a strong team ethic, so it was important to me to give the company, the jobs and the brand the best chance of continued independent existence following my exit. Employee ownership is the perfect fit for us.”
An employee ownership trust has been formed and holds 100 per cent of the shares on behalf of the employees. Darwell-Stone will remain in the business on a part-time basis and Sarah Ramsay will become managing director.
Darwell-Stone added: “Although we were initially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, business has improved significantly since then. We’ve actually enjoyed a very successful period over the past couple of months.”
Within Scotland, there are now about 110 employee-owned companies operating, with approximately 7,500 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of around £950 million.
Tangram Furnishers’ transition to employee ownership was supported by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), with the process managed by Co-ownership Solutions LLP and legal services by Lindsays.
Head of CDS, Clare Alexander, said: “The number of employee-owned businesses in Scotland continues to grow and we’re delighted to be adding Tangram to the list.”
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