Fife's Muir Group racks up nine years of profits despite 'very difficult' 2020 amid pandemic

Muir Group, the Fife-based housebuilder, property developer and contractor, has notched up nine consecutive years of profitable trading despite the latest period being dominated by the pandemic.

In what was described as a “very difficult trading year” turnover increased at the Muir Construction business, five of the group’s divisions returned a profit and Muir Timber Systems moved from a loss into profit.

Bosses at the family firm said they were upbeat about the forthcoming year with significant growth planned across various divisions, including construction, property development, Muir Timber Systems and Muir Homes.

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Expansion of operations in the Central Belt is on the cards, as the company looks for further land opportunities. It has a “significant” land bank available for future developments.

John Muir, chairman of Muir Group: 'These results are a robust response to a challenging and unprecedented year for the construction sector.'

Muir Construction turnover increased to just under £39 million, up by some £2.9m on the year before. This result was despite the challenging situation of construction being halted for a full quarter of the trading year.

The construction arm has recently completed a 150,000-square-foot logistics facility at its 26-acre Glasgow Business Park on the M8 and is expanding its activities on further sites in Glasgow and the M8 corridor, with construction likely to start in the new year.

Property development within subsidiary company Hermiston and Muir Aberdeen accelerated again this year to £4.5m of revenues. The results show a net loss as completion and sale of major developments will complete in future financial years.

The group’s property development business looks set to return greater profitability with the pre-let of the logistics centre in Glasgow along with acquisitions of development sites at Eurocentral set to be delivered in the current and future years.

Muir Timber Systems, meanwhile, consolidated its position with a full order book and another “busy” year. The division returned a profit of £40,000 despite a decreased turnover of £4.4m from £7.4m a year earlier.

Bosses said the turnover figures reflected the halting of production during the lockdown period and reduced staff numbers due to furlough. The prospects for increased activity in the current year are said to “look promising”.

Housing revenues for Muir Homes topped £26.5m despite the lockdown period affecting the ability to complete and handover new homes.

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House completions decreased by 68 to 134 in the year, and although restricted in delivering the originally budgeted housing numbers, Muir homes reported a profit of £586,000. The business aims to create 155 houses this year.

John Muir, chairman of Muir Group, said: “These results are a robust response to a challenging and unprecedented year for the construction sector.

“The pandemic had a significant impact on revenues and operations. However, Muir Group reported another profitable year – that is an achievement I am very proud of.

“The UK government furlough scheme was a major lifeline, protecting jobs. It also meant we had 200 staff out of the business for a significant period.”

He added: “Looking forward, on the trading front we have made a positive start to the year with a significant pipeline of activity planned and a strong balance sheet.”

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