Employee ownership: Turnberry Rug Works

In 2013, the eight staff at Turnberry Rug Works, which was turning over about £450,000 a year, took control of the firm. John McKerchar was drafted in as managing director after the death of the company’s founder, with a remit to take the business towards employee ownership.

An Employee Benefit Trust was created which initially acquired 49% of the shares. The full balance was purchased by the Trust out of the company profits over the next five years.

McKerchar said: “Most of our team has been with us for two decades. Employee ownership not only rewards their loyalty but gives them a real stake in the business.”

Sarah Deas, chief executive at Co-operative Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise’s employee-ownership support unit, added: “This is a good move for Turnberry Rug Works which helps to safeguard traditional manufacturing skills. The deal keeps it grounded in its community and shows how employee ownership can sustain businesses and help them to grow”.

Turnberry Rug Works has been making carpets and wall hangings by hand from natural fibres at its converted granary in Ayrshire since 1991. Using the hand tufting technique, they’ve sent rugs as far afield as the Vatican, the Big Brother House and British Embassies all over the world.

They start by putting a canvas on a frame, designs are projected on to the rug backing and then drawn on the canvas. The best quality yarns from merino wool, linen, silk and natural fibre viscose are used and there is a constant search for new and interesting yarns

Compressed air pushes the yarn through the canvass and to lock all the tufts in place a second backing is placed on the back of the rug. Latex is brushed into the backing and allowed to cure. The rug is then taken off the frame and sheared to the required pile height and for some designs outlines can be hand carved to give an eye catching relief

After the rug has been edged and trimmed, the production manager gives it a final inspection before giving it the Turnberry stamp – a guarantee of durability

The company took part in exhibitions in Dundee (2017) & Glasgow (above, 2019)





This entry was posted in Co-operative movement, Democratic participation, Employee ownership, Worker co-operatives and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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