WEST, the Glasgow-based independent brewery, has become the first brewery in the UK to be employee owned.
Brewery founder, Bavarian-born Petra Wetzel, has established an innovative Share Incentive Plan (SIP) and placed an initial 10% of the company’s shares into a dedicated trust for WESTies (as WEST employees are known).
Speaking on the rationale behind the initiative, Ms Wetzel said: “WEST is now worth many millions and I’ve always considered this business to be a team effort rather than me acting as some kind of benevolent dictator.
“I didn’t set out to get rich running a brewery. I’m 44 years old and, rather than selling up to retire and sit on a beach for the rest of my days, I want to share what we’ve achieved over the last 13 years with the people who have helped make it possible. So everybody who has worked at WEST for longer than a year will receive shares in the business, which will be held in trust and vest after five years.”
Wetzel continued “This is about leaving a legacy for the city of Glasgow because if I’d sold the business to a larger entity, I’d have no control over what would happen to WEST going forward, so this is all about ensuring that everybody who works at WEST benefits financially. It’s not about making me rich; it’s about sharing the benefits with everybody who works hard at WEST on a regular, annual basis.”
FDMB Scotland understands that from April 2019, employees who have worked with the business for 12 consecutive months, no matter how many hours, will receive £3600 worth of shares – the maximum sum that can be given tax-free to employees – every year.