Staff take the reins at Highland hotel

Priory Hotel founder sells to employees after 46 years  in business

The Priory Hotel’s founder Stuart Hutton with his son Kenny and wife Eveline

STAFF at The Priory Hotel in the Highland town of Beauly have acquired a stake in the business after it became the latest in Scotland to be transferred to employee ownership.

Stuart Hutton, who founded the hotel in 1972 and, together with his family, has gone on to expand the business from 12 to 39 bedrooms, decided to move the hotel to staff ownership in order to take a step back from the business after more than 40 years at the helm.

An Employee Ownership Trust has been formed which will hold 72% of the shares on behalf of the employees. Stuart’s son Kenneth, a golf professional who has become involved in the hotel again in recent years, will retain the bulk of the remaining shareholding and become managing director of the company.

Kenneth said the move to employee ownership, which was supported by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Ownership Associates, Anderson Strathern, Johnston Carmichael and Handelsbanken, means the hotel “has been sold to those who know it best”.

“By selling to his employees, my dad knows that the business he spent 46 years building is now in the hands of a loyal and invested team that wants the best for the hotel and the local area,” he said. “The staff are very excited by the news and are looking forward to learning more about the role they will play in the hotel’s future.”

Sarah Deas, director at CDS, said: “Stuart has spent over half his life building a successful and much-loved local business. By handing control over to a team that he knows and trusts, the hotel’s important standing in the community is protected, along with jobs and company ethos.”

The move by The Priory Hotel comes after Auchrannie Resort on the Isle of Arran became an employee-owned company in November 2017.