Aberdeen-based Stewart Milne Group divesting timber arm to help grow homes division in Scotland

Aberdeen-headquartered housebuilder Stewart Milne Group is selling its timber systems business to focus on investing in the growth of Stewart Milne Homes across Scotland and North-west England.

The independent housebuilder and manufacturer of timberframe for offsite construction said it is capitalising on Stewart Milne Timber Systems’ (SMTS) strong position in the UK by putting the business up for sale “at a time when the market is set to grow exponentially” – and is forecasting strong interest.

The group added that demand for timberframe has been rising rapidly, with its use anticipated to double in the next five years to meet government housing targets. “As housebuilders tackle the dual challenge of achieving net-zero carbon targets and dealing with acute skills shortages, they are increasingly turning to modern methods of construction using renewable sources,” said the group.

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The group is chopping off Stewart Milne Timber Systems, saying the unit has seen 'stellar' growth in the last five years. Picture: Darren Hartley Photography.

SMTS has experienced “stellar” growth in the last five years, with a current order book of close to £300 million, and “strong” customer relationships with UK housebuilders such as Barratt, Taylor Wimpey and Cala. The £100m turnover business, which has 400 staff, has a market share of around 20 per cent, the group added.

Alex Goodfellow, Stewart Milne Group MD of strategic development, who is leading the sale process, said: “With the scale of the opportunity in the growing timber frame market, SMTS presents a highly compelling investment proposition. We anticipate attracting a high level of interest from potential buyers who will invest in order to capitalise on that opportunity.”

The group added that it has been investing in SMTS’ product and manufacturing innovation and capacity at its factories in Aberdeen and Witney in Oxfordshire to keep up with demand. Increased volumes have led to the creation of a third production facility in central Scotland, with the division present in Uddingston.

Priorities

Stewart Milne Group chief executive Stuart MacGregor added: “To keep pace with demand, it’s clear that further investment in production capacity in both Scotland and England will be required. As a privately run, independent company, we need to prioritise where we invest in the future.

“Since reopening last summer, after the initial Covid lockdown, we’ve seen record levels of activity in the UK housing sector. The strength of our business with its award-winning developments, new homes range and record sales has enabled us to capitalise on these favourable market conditions and positioned us superbly for future growth.”

The buoyancy of the current homes market, however, does mean that land prices in Scotland and North West England are increasing rapidly, Mr MacGregor also stated.

“We have therefore chosen to divest our successful timber systems business and will focus on increasing investment in additional sites for Stewart Milne Homes. Using our considerable land buying experience to take advantage of the development opportunities, we will invest in land in the short term and concentrate on growing our homes business in the longer term.”

The group, which was founded in 1975, said in May that it was targeting some £550 million in revenues with the rollout of a new range of homes to meet the “changing needs of buyers”.

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