Press Release from Westside Veterinary Surgery
As of December 11th 2014, Westside Vets will be trading as “Shetland Vets” and the present owners, Jim & Juliet Nicolson, are transferring their shares to a new trust, “Shetland Vets Employee Ownership Trust”.
The employees are not investing any personal funds. Instead, the value of the company will gradually be paid to the Nicolsons over the next five years or so. Jim & Juliet will continue working for the Practice, and Jim will be one of the Trustees, while Juliet will be a Company Director. The other 3 Directors have been chosen by the staff.
Although Employee Ownership is a new idea for Shetland, around 4% of GDP nationally is generated by Employee Owned companies, with John Lewis being the largest & best known. In the Highlands, examples include Aquascot who process fish at Alness, and West Highland Free Press on Skye. Shetland Vets will be the third Vet Practice in the UK to become Employee Owned.
Most Vet Practices changing hands in the UK at the moment are being bought by corporate organisations, such as Companion Care. The owners & staff at Westside Vets felt that management on the Mainland would have a poor understanding of the unique challenges faced by a veterinary practice in Shetland, particularly the need to provide a 24 hour service throughout the Isles. Employee Ownership will allow control of the company to stay in Shetland, and staff to share in rewards without any financial risk, as well as sustaining jobs in the local community. We also hope that the move will help the practice to attract & retain staff in the future.
Highlands & Islands Enterprise have been very helpful with the process, & the practice is grateful for the support received with the legal costs & ongoing staff training & development.
The 2 surgeries at Bixter & Scalloway will be re-branded as “Shetland Vets” & we hope to submit a planning application in the next few weeks for a new branch in Lerwick. Our existing surgeries have easy access & parking, but we are aware that they have not been convenient for clients in Lerwick with no transport, or for people who want to come by public transport. Now that the company has been secured for the future, we are keen to improve accessibility & the service we offer to all clients.