Firm says disposal in current market conditions ‘not in best interests of group’

Scottish housebuilder Stewart Milne has halted the sale of its business because of “the recent shift in the dynamics of the UK economy”.

The Aberdeen-based firm said interest from prospective buyers had been “strong” but it would now focus on acquiring new sites for development and delivering homes.

The directors of the group agreed to put the business up for sale after its eponymous founder and majority shareholder announced his decision to retire in April.


Stewart Milne announced he was retiring in April

But the “recent shift in the dynamics of the UK economy”, such as higher inflation and an increase in interest rates, has put the plan on ice. The decision has been “fully supported by the group’s secured lenders”, the firm said.

Directors were in “fruitful discussions with a number of potential bidders”, but these are now on hold, the firm added in a statement.

Stuart MacGregor, chief executive of the group, said: “We have been involved in a number of very rewarding discussions with potential buyers.

“However, given the current uncertainty in the market, we do not think it to be in the group’s best interests to continue to pursue a sale of the company with the current bidders at this time – although we remain optimistic about future prospects and will continue to carefully evaluate, along with the group’s key stakeholders, what is best for the business as market conditions settle.”

He added: “For now, we will focus on acquiring new sites for development and delivering high quality, family homes across Scotland and North-west England. Sales interest has been strong across all our sites in recent months.”

April’s sale was announced months after the Scottish housebuilder sold its timber frame arm to the Donaldson Group last December.

In its last set of results, Stewart Milne racked up an £8.1m pre-tax loss in the year to October 2021 on turnover up to £306m from £270m for the previous period.