In 2003 the Scottish Government introduced the Land Reform Act, giving crofters and communities the right to buy their own land.
Through this Act, private Estate owners understood this allowed communities to carry out a hostile take-over and this initiated discussions on whether the South Uist community would like to take their Estate land into their own hands. A steering group was formed to carry out the consultation process and establish if this was what the community wanted to do.
The syndicate which then owned South Uist Estate agreed to undertake a negotiated sale and from there the Steering Group undertook a feasibility study, business plan, fundraising and negotiated the sale of the Estate to the community.
The Sealladh na Beinne Mòire (SnBM) community company was set up to take over the work of the Steering Group towards the end of the buyout process which was completed in December 2006 at a cost of £4.5 million. The SnBM Company is made up of members of the local community and it is the members who elect the Directors to the Board.
The South Uist Estate (SUE) purchase was unusual in that it was a share purchase rather than an asset purchase, meaning that the whole of the SUE Ltd company was purchased. Included within the assets of that company was the 93,000 acres of land, sporting rights, fishing rights, croft land, various commercial and residential buildings and commercial land including quarries, fishfarms and a MoD base.
In buying the SUE company as a share purchase, the current company structure was created with SUE as a subsidiary of SnBM. There were 2 other subsidiary companies within the group – Lothian Shelf 175 & Lothian Shelf 176. For ease, the Directors adopted the group name Stòras Uibhist, meaning the parent company SnBM and its subsidiaries. The trading subsidiary names have been changed and the company structure currently operates as per the chart below.