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GuitarGuitar signs its business over to its employees

GuitarGuitar
(Image credit: GuitarGuitar)

The majority of the UK’s biggest six-string retailer, GuitarGuitar, is now owned and operated by its employees. 

The firm announced on January 21 that it had placed 60 percent of the business into an employee ownership trust, effectively dividing the GuitarGuitar chain between its 160 workers and signing over the majority of the business and its future profits.

The chain was established in 2004 and is based in Glasgow in Scotland, with various retail locations around the UK, including stores in London, Birmingham, Newcastle and Edinburgh. It also has a successful online wing.

In the last 20 years co-founders Kip McBay and Graham Bell have helped GuitarGuitar to grow to a point where it now turns over more than £45 million (approx. $60.5m) a year, selling around 50,000 guitars a year in the process. Now they’ve decided to leave it in the hands of their employees.

“We’ve spent the last 20 years building a brand that we are wholeheartedly passionate about,” says Bell. “We wanted to ensure the business means something to future owners when our time comes to take a step back.

“Not only did we want to reward staff for their efforts at the company but we also wanted to ensure our customers will always be front and centre. Every experience a customer has at GuitarGuitar will now be with someone who is invested in and committed to delivering outstanding service to musicians.”

Though it still a fairly unusual ownership model on both sides of the Atlantic, GuitarGuitar is the latest in a line of businesses to sign over ownership to their employees. Notably, Taylor Guitars and British hifi specialist Richer Sounds recently moved to a similar structure. 

“The last 20 years have been an exciting ride for us all in GuitarGuitar,” concludes Bell. “It’s time for Kip and I to let the next generation take the business into the future.”

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.