Edinburgh architect latest to become employee ownership trust

New Waverley Square in Edinburgh by Allan Murray Architects

New Waverley Square in Edinburgh by Allan Murray Architects

Allan Murray Architects has become an employee ownership trust as a new generation takes over the reins.

Founder Allan Murray is retiring and directors Conor Pittman and Kenny McNally will run the Scottish practice which was founded in 1992 and has a string of major Edinburgh projects to its name.

Converting the firm, known as AMA, into a trust with its staff as the beneficiaries means 100% of its shares will be transferred to the trust. Every year the business will split an agreed share of any profits between employees, regardless of their position.

The practice is joining a growing number of architects – including Scottish practices Page & Park, Collective Architecture, Anderson Bell Christie and Archetype and English firms Assael, AHMM and Orms – in choosing the employee ownership business model.

LtoR Conor Pittman and Kenny McNally

Conor Pittman, left, and Kenny McNally take over the reins at Allan Murray Architects

McNally, who is overseeing the masterplan of the £1bn St James Quarter in Edinburgh, said it was the “natural route” for the next chapter.

Office manager Ellen Wilson, who has been with the practice more than 20 years, was elected by the team to become trustee. The Trustee’s prime responsibility is to ensure the company is run in the best interests of the employees.

Pittman, managing director, added: “Unlike many firms entering employee-ownership, for us it is all about continuity and showing the market that – while we are evolving – we are as well placed as ever before to deliver the cutting-edge and landmark projects [for which] we’re known. This includes exciting schemes like Abbey Lane – where we’ve been granted planning approval to accommodate 298 students.

“We have Allan’s incredible legacy and a team that has absorbed so much knowledge and acclaim over the last few decades – and now we want to knit together and come out of the challenges that the entire sector has experienced over the last year.

“Employee ownership will help us grow and develop – and take on new tests with increased ingenuity and accountability. It will ensure our team is fully rewarded for its brilliant work too.”

AMA’s projects include The Tun, the new Boroughmuir High School, Edinburgh St James Centre, Missoni Hotel and the Edinburgh BioQuarter masterplan.

There are almost 500 employee-owned businesses headquartered in the UK, a fifth of them in Scotland.