Change of ownership
Sir David Murray hands control of business to sons
Sir David Murray: ‘I have been through many ups and downs’
Sir David Murray has transferred ownership of his business interests to his sons following a year of significant restructuring and a pre-tax loss.
David junior will focus on the Murray Capital Group and Keith on the group’s wine businesses.
Sir David remains as chairman of the group which anticipates a strong return to profitability this year on the back of a number of positive developments in the portfolio and the prospects of its large strategic land assets.
The company’s annual accounting period was extended to 18 months to allow the group to focus on the restructure of certain subsidiaries. Annual accounts for the period to 30 June 2021 will be published later this year.
Turnover from continued operations for the 18 months to the end of June 2020 was £100.1m against £78.7m for the 12 months in 2018.
There was a pre-tax loss for the period of £11.6m (2018: £1.8m loss) due to exceptional costs relating to restructure of metals business, impairment of investments due to effects of Covid-19, and trading losses within portfolio companies.
David Murray junior: ‘We look forward with huge optimism’
Restructuring of the Metals Group in 2020 and greater focus on the core steel business has resulted in a return to profitability for that division in 2021, with higher margins and cash generation. This was mainly due to more value-added work, reduced overheads, and increased steel prices.
There was continuous investment in the portfolio despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with Murray Capital leading new funding rounds into Lending Crowd, the fintech lending platform, and making new investments in cryptocurrency business Zumo, and start-up insurance broker, Blackford.
Murray Estates continued to invest heavily in strategic land assets, and on 30 April 2020, after a rigorous call-in process from the Scottish Government, planning permission was granted for the Edinburgh Garden District – including 1,100 new homes (825 private and 275 affordable), a neighbourhood centre, a new primary school, and improved transport links – to the west of the capital.
The company will also make a significant contribution to secondary education locally.
In May 2019, the company’s proposals for the Edinburgh International Business Gateway, a sustainable and contemporary mixed-use development near the city’s airport, secured planning consent in principle, but as with many such developments was subsequently called-in by the Scottish Government for a transport assessment. That process is ongoing, but the company remains hopeful of a positive decision soon.
In December 2020, the company concluded the sale of 68 acres of consented land at Torrance Park in North Lanarkshire to developers Taylor Wimpey and Barratt Developments. In addition to the 638 planned homes, 13,000 square feet of retail and leisure facilities will be built by Crucible Alba. The £6.6m received has improved the group’s liquidity.
Since June 2020, Murray Estates has sold 462 units at its Kingdom Park development in Kirkcaldy (242 consented units to Barratt Developments, 144 to Persimmon Homes, and 76 affordable units to Persimmon Partnerships).
The company is working with Fife Council to develop consented and affordable units, as well as supporting infrastructure with £6m loan funding secured on commercial terms from the Scottish Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund, which made the project financially viable.
Murray Estates invested £2.5 million in the year to June 2021 into infrastructure at certain sites and professional services designed to enhance their potential value and return on investment.
The sale of Multi Metals, Murray Capital’s aluminium business, to its management team has allowed the company to refocus its attention on its core steels business.
This restructuring, allied with an increase in steel prices during 2021 so far, is expected to prove profitable for the company in the financial year that ended yesterday, helping reverse much of the loss recorded in 2020.
Keith Murray: looking after the group’s wine interests
Sir David Murray said: “Running a family business presents many challenges, but it allows you to always think about long-term benefits, rather than short-term issues.
“Being able to transition the ownership successfully to the next generation has been in our plan for many years. I am delighted that we have now achieved this successfully, with David focused on the Murray Capital Group and Keith on our wine businesses.
“I am pleased to remain as chairman, with an active interest in our core steel business in particular, and a small continuing equity stake.
“I have been through many ups and downs over the last 50 years in business – as anyone willing to bear risk inevitably does – but I retain great expectations and energy for the next phase. I have complete confidence in my sons, who are willing and able, and for the businesses they now own and lead.”
David D Murray, managing director of Murray Capital Group, said: “The 18 months reported on with these accounts has been one of significant investment and strategic improvement for the Group.
“This demonstrates the benefit of the family business model, which allows us to think and act in a long-term manner to the benefit not only of our business but those we are invested in.
“The company has a portfolio of businesses that trade across a number of sectors and territories, which act as a good source of diversification, especially in times of difficulty.
“While the pandemic has been challenging in many ways for our business, as with many others, the group’s performance has picked up considerably in the period since June 2020, such that we expect to record a more positive set of results for 2021.
“Delays to planning processes are an ongoing frustration within the Estates business, with every year that we are prevented from developing a site costing our business around £2-3m, as well as delaying the delivery of new schools, infrastructure and housing for communities.
“We believe the solving of this issue and risk would be of significant benefit to jobs and the economic recovery.
“We look forward to the next phase of Murray Capital’s growth with a huge amount of optimism thanks to a number of strategic developments that have progressed or are poised to do so, and which will create value we can reinvest in new opportunities, particularly in other growth businesses.”