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Business / Consultancy company becomes employee-owned

The ESPL Regulatory Consulting team in their Shetland base (left to right): Helen Erwood, Holly Hunter, Diane Wood, Tony Erwood, Anna Watt. Photo: Smarts Communicate

A SHETLAND based business which provides specialist regulatory services to the life sciences and pharmaceutical/medical device industries has become the latest company in Scotland to be employee-owned.

Ownership of ESPL Regulatory Consulting (ESPL) has transferred from the Erwood family to a trust for the benefit of the company’s staff.

The transfer has been supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), which provided a grant of £10,250 for the legal costs involved in the buyout.

It comes after HIE recently supported Hoswick based Laurence Odie Knitwear into employee ownership ahead of its owner retiring in the coming years.

ESPL has its headquarters at Lunna House in Vidlin, but it operates internationally and has sister companies in Ireland and Switzerland.

It is said to be one of Scotland’s “most experienced independent specialist consultancies serving the medicines and medical device industries globally, operating in Shetland, Glasgow, England, across the EU, Switzerland, North America and Australia.”

Owners Helen, Tony, and Chris Erwood said they were keen to identify a solution that would allow the business to continue to thrive for the benefit of the employees and remain rooted in Scotland.

Dr Helen Erwood will continue to be involved in the company. “It’s approaching time for control of the business to be handed over to the next generation,” she said.

“We have built up a successful business from our Shetland base and we couldn’t have done that without the considerable talents and efforts of our team. One of our core values is collaboration, and the employee ownership model reinforces that.”

Jason Collins, an experienced regulatory professional, has joined the board as managing director.

HIE account manager for ESPL Andrew Gear said the organisation was “delighted” to have supported the company in making the move to employee ownership.

“ESPL provides unique and quality life-science jobs to Shetland people,” he said. “By making this move, the owners have secured these jobs and the long-term presence of the company in Shetland.”

There are around 100 employee-owned companies operating in Scotland, with approximately 7,000 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of around £940 million.

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