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RETAILER PROFILE | Cameron Interiors


The Glasgow showroom staff with Kirsten Robeson, standing on the far right


the PEOPLE It’s ALL about


Cameron Interiors recently become the first UK employee-owned kitchen retail company. Vicki Evans speaks to MD Kirsten Robeson and Edinburgh studio manager Louise Delaney about how the company’s person-centric, and detail-oriented ethos has helped it go from strength to strength


W


hen business owners decide they want to take a step back or sell their company, there are a few options.


One is to sell the business to an employee, which is how Kirsten Robeson became the owner of Cameron Interiors in 1993. She bought an established business from founder Leonard Cameron, who started the company in 1979. Another way is to sell to a third party, but it usually means that things change within the company. A third option is employee ownership, which most people associate with John Lewis, but it is a fairly new concept for the UK. Employee ownership is where all employees are given a financial stake in the company and a say in how it is run. And, when owner Robeson and husband Ian decided to take a step back from running the business this quickly became the best option for them and Cameron Interiors.


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Robeson needed to make sure the company remained the same for the sake of both customers and employees. She will stay at the company part- time and is a member of the board of trustees with Louise Delaney, the Edinburgh studio manager, and an independent trustee. “We didn’t want to change the company, for the people who worked there or for our clients,” Robeson explains. “We have loyal clients who have worked with us for 40 years – they have come back even with their children who now need renovations. We didn’t want any change. We wanted the company to continue what it was doing as it was doing well.” After doing all the research into employee ownership, Robeson has


become a massive convert. It does require having a good team behind you that will take on the responsibilities and whom you trust, but with a team as strong as Cameron Interiors that was not an issue. “If you have the right team and can afford to do it, it is a great way of passing the business on to other people,” says Robeson. “I was able to get Cameron Interiors when Leonard Cameron retired. I now have the opportunity to pay that forward to my staff.” Employee ownership became official on December 8, 2020, but, as for many, it was a year of ups and downs. It was important to Robeson that the staff were looked after. No one left the company during that year and everyone – even while they were briefly on furlough – received 100% of their salary.


Person-centric


We are at the top end of the market, but we never want to suffer from Pretty


Woman syndrome Kirsten Robeson, managing director


The original Cameron Interiors showroom is in Glasgow. It is the main HQ and it has many kitchen displays of various styles, as well as bedroom and office furniture. The Edinburgh studio is smaller. It is designed to look more like a house than a showroom and just has kitchen displays in the old Georgian building.


People are at the forefront of everything at Cameron Interiors. It is a


· March 2021


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