Fife's Donaldson Group acquires Stewart Milne Timber Systems in 'exciting' growth push

Fife-based Donaldson Group has acquired Stewart Milne Timber Systems (SMTS) from the eponymous housebuilding group in a major expansion move.

Established in 1975 as the timber frame arm of Aberdeen-based Stewart Milne Group, SMTS is a UK pioneer in timber frame technology and manufacturing, operating throughout the UK from three manufacturing plants in Aberdeen, Witney and a new facility in Falkirk.

All staff and operations will continue unchanged following the acquisition for an undisclosed sum.

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.

Andrew Donaldson, CEO of Donaldson Group, with Alex Goodfellow (Stewart Milne Group managing director – strategic development), who will transfer with the business into the role of CEO, Donaldson Off-site Manufacturing. Picture: Peter Sandground

Currently led by the sixth generation of the Donaldson family, the 160-year-old business comprises 11 specialist timber and building product units, operating throughout the UK from 45 locations employing more than 1,500 people.

Chief executive Andrew Donaldson said: “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.”

He added: “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 frames 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.”

Alex Goodfellow (Stewart Milne Group managing director – strategic development) will transfer with the business into the role of chief executive, Donaldson Off-site Manufacturing, and join Rod Allan (SMTS managing director) and the current board of directors in continuing to drive the business

Donaldson Group said it was committed to the board’s growth plans and “supporting SMTS achieve its ambition”.

Goodfellow said: “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.”

Allan said: “Through our service, our scale and our capabilities we have focused 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, added: “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.”

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