Stewart Milne Group put up for sale

Stewart Milne Group is up for sale after the housebuilder’s board decided to capitalise on “strong performance and favourable market conditions”.

The Aberdeen-headquartered company revealed that chairman and founder Stewart Milne was planning his retirement and that financial services giant EY had been appointed to help find a buyer.

Founded in the 1975, the business grew to a turnover of almost £270m with an average headcount of 999 employees in the year to 31 October 2020. However, the firm made a pre-tax loss of £71.5m during that period, which followed a pre-tax loss of £48.5m in the 16 months to 31 October 2019.

The group sold its timber frame-making business to Donaldson Group last year to focus more on housebuilding.

Stewart Milne Group claimed to have taken “major steps to improve efficiency and profitability”, insisting that its results for the year to 31 October 2021 would reveal “a dramatic increase in turnover and profits”.

To meet its growth ambitions, the business said significant investment was required – particularly in its strategic land bank – to create high-margin development opportunities.

Milne, 71, said the pandemic had partly prompted his decision to retire.

“The unprecedented events of the last two years have forced many to re-evaluate and, after considerable soul-searching, I have decided that the time is right to step back from the business I founded to prioritise my time for family, friends and other ventures I want to pursue,” he said.

“In the last 18 months, we’ve significantly strengthened the business with major efficiencies and our new homes range. This ambitious overhaul of our designs offers a new range of spacious, high-quality family homes that meet the changing needs of buyers. We are superbly placed to capitalise on the favourable market conditions and demand, which are set to continue in the near-term.”

Stewart Milne Group chief executive Stuart MacGregor said the firm expected to attract “a high level of interest from potential buyers”.

“We have one of the strongest sales pipelines in our history and anticipate generating significant sales over the next two years,” he added. “With a strategic bank of land, award-winning developments, our new homes range, and recently completed investments in new IT systems and in digital transformation, Stewart Milne Group presents a compelling proposition.

“Our design and build standards of excellence in creating distinctive and highly desirable communities are a key differentiator, positioning us as a leader in place-making. However, with land prices rising, more investment is needed to take advantage of our unrivalled land-buying experience and the development opportunities available.”

As well as its Aberdeen head office, the group has bases in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester.

The company is working on about 20 developments across Scotland and North-West England.

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