Stewart Milne puts housebuilding arm up for sale and announces retirement
Stewart Milne Group has put its housebuilding business up for sale after its founder and main shareholder decided to retire nearly half a century after founding the Aberdeen-based company.
Stewart Milne, who is executive chairman of Stewart Milne Homes, said the time is right to spend more time with family and friends following the “unprecedented” pandemic.
Mr Milne, 71, said: “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.
“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.”
Founded in 1975, the business is wholly owned by Mr Milne, who holds 80%, and his three older sons, Gary, Mike and David.
About 20 housing developments are currently at various stages across Scotland and north-west England.
The group said to realise its growth ambitions “significant investment is required, particularly in the strategic land bank to create future, high-margin development opportunities”.
It added: “The group board carefully considered all options with its advisers and came to the unanimous conclusion to investigate a potential sale.”
Ernst & Young will act as advisors during the sale.
Stuart MacGregor, chief executive of Stewart Milne Group, said: “We anticipate attracting a high level of interest from potential buyers who will invest in order to capitalise on the strength of our business and the buoyancy of the current homes market.
“We have one of the strongest sales pipelines in our history and anticipate generating significant sales over the next two years.
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.”
In December last year, Stewart Milne Group sold its timber system operation to the Donaldson Group.
Stewart Milne Group has offices in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester with a workforce of 1,000, including subcontractors.
Last August, the group announced pre-tax losses of £71.5 million and turnover of £269.7m for the Covid-impacted year to October 31 2020, when operations stopped for four months during the first pandemic lockdown.
Pre-tax profits and turnover for July 2018 to October 2019, before the group transitioned to a new financial calendar, came in at £48.5m and £379m respectively.