Scottish housebuilder aims to take advantage of falling land prices to expand across UK

Scottish housebuilder Stewart Milne is planning to take advantage of the housing downturn to transform itself into a billion-pound nationwide company by the middle of the next decade.

John Slater, homes managing director for the company, said it was looking to buy land aggressively during the housing downturn in order to pick up development opportunities at a good price.

He said: “I think it’s a great period if you have the ability to expand – there are good opportunities. Others are unable to realise these because of financial constraints on their businesses.”

Last year the firm had a turnover of £348m from which it made a profit of £42m. Slater said the business planned to double turnover by 2010, and take revenues to £1bn by 2015. Most of the revenue comes from Stewart Milne’s housebuilding business, based in Scotland. However last year it purchased Manchester-based housebuilder and contractor Nuttall Construction and launched a housing division serving the Oxford area.

Each has targets to produce 300-400 homes a year, and other regional ventures are planned.

Slater’s pledge comes as the Council of Mortgage Lenders this week predicted that the level of mortgage lending this year could be half of what it was in 2007.

Slater added that the firm was in a good position to raise funds as much of its revenue comes from Scotland, where the housing market has held up better than England.

Stewart Milne is funded through a debt facility with the Bank of Scotland; Slater refused to divulge how much the firm was looking to spend on land purchases.