Donaldson Group acquires Stewart Milne Timber Systems

The Donaldson Group has acquired the timber frame manufacturing division of Stewart Milne Group marking its entry into the timber frame market.

Donaldson Group acquires Stewart Milne Timber Systems

Andrew Donaldson, Donaldson Group CEO, (left) and Alex Goodfellow, new CEO, Donaldson Off-site Manufacturing (formerly of SMTS)

Established in 1975, Aberdeen-based Stewart Milne Timber Systems (SMTS) is a UK pioneer in timber frame technology and manufacturing, operating throughout the country from three manufacturing plants in Aberdeen, Witney and a new facility in Falkirk.

Stewart Milne Group put the £100 million business up for sale in October to capitalise on its strong growth and invest in land for new homes.

All staff and operations will continue unchanged. Stewart Milne Group managing director – strategic development Alex Goodfellow will transfer with the business into the role of CEO, Donaldson Off-site Manufacturing and join Rod Allan, SMTS managing director, and the current board of directors in continuing to drive the business. The Donaldson Group said it is committed to the board’s growth plans and supporting SMTS achieve its ambition.

With 160 years of expertise in timber importing and distribution, as well as decades of experience in timber engineering and merchanting, this acquisition strategically and operationally complements the Donaldson Group portfolio, allowing the group to offer a stronger timber package for residential and commercial applications to all their current and future customers.

The move further supports Donaldson’s growth strategy and follows a run of acquisitions by the group, following the additions of Kitchens International, Stonecare, Rowan Manufacturing and Smith and Frater since the start of 2020.

Announcing the acquisition, Andrew Donaldson, CEO of the Donaldson Group, said: “We’re delighted and proud to have successfully acquired this terrific timber frame business. This deal secures the future for a leading Scottish-based business; enabling the growth plans for it to reach its full potential, while providing reliability and stability for its existing and new customers. SMTS is a natural fit for the Donaldson Group; it offers a similar family-owned ethos, and has a strong reputation and track record for investment and innovation. We’re pleased to welcome all 411 employees to our family business and look forward to working closely with Alex and the full team.

“This is an exciting move for the Donaldson Group, as we venture into the timber frame market at a time when interest in the material has never been higher. The use of timber frame is anticipated to double in the next five years as housebuilders turn to modern methods of construction and renewable sources to achieve crucial net-zero carbon targets. This acquisition supports the Donaldson Group’s commitment to sustainability: building a sustainable business and supporting a sustainable industry.”

Alex Goodfellow, CEO, Donaldson Off-site Manufacturing, added, “We have secured the perfect partner who is committed to our growth strategy and who will support us to achieve our vision.  The Donaldson Group has a strong reputation for partnerships, reliability and integrity and we are clearly aligned both strategically and operationally which can only help strengthen our market-leading position.”

Rod Allan, SMTS managing director, said: “Through our service, our scale and our capabilities we have focussed on how we can differentiate ourselves in the marketplace. There is no doubt that being part of one of the UK’s leading timber-based group of companies will offer huge opportunities that will benefit our people, our customers and our other key stakeholders.”

Stuart MacGregor, chief executive of Stewart Milne Group, said: “This deal represents an exceptional outcome for both parties. The scale of the opportunity in the growing timber frame market and the stellar growth of SMTS presented a highly compelling investment proposition and we are pleased to have found the right buyer who will continue to invest in the business and its people.

“The sale of SMTS will enable Stewart Milne Group to strengthen our investment in our thriving homes business which has seen record levels of sales in the last 18 months and, with our differentiated approach to place-making and new homes range, is now superbly positioned for future growth.”

SMTS joins the Donaldson Group portfolio of leading independent brands: MGM Timber, Donaldson Timber Engineering, James Donaldson Timber, James Donaldson Insulation, Smith & Frater, Rowan Manufacturing, Nu-Style Products, Kitchens International and Stonecare.

The acquisition of SMTS will further strengthen the Donaldson Group portfolio of businesses and its position as the UK’s leading independent in its markets. 

Currently led by the sixth generation of Donaldson, the 160-year-old family business comprises 11 specialist timber and building product businesses, operating throughout the UK from 45 locations employing over 1500 people. The businesses that make up the Group trade and operate independently, sharing best practice, innovation, purchasing synergies, and market analysis.

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