Talks suspended

Stewart Milne puts sale on hold as market softens

Stewart Milne - housing and housebuilding
Stewart Milne says discussions have been rewarding

Stewart Milne Group has suspended efforts to sell its housebuilding business, despite a number of “fruitful discussions” with potential bidders.

Main shareholder and executive chair Stewart Milne announced the sale of the business in April when he took the decision to retire nearly half a century after establishing the Aberdeen-based company.

When it posted annual results in May, the company said it was in good shape for a sale and reported “strong” interest across all its sites. Potential suitors were thought to have included Derbyshire-based Avant Homes.

However, higher interest rates, inflation and other cost-of-living pressures have caused demand to soften and forced the company to put its plans on hold.

A spokeswoman for the company said: “The recent shift in the dynamics of the UK economy, with higher inflation and an increase in interest rates, amongst other factors, have led the directors of the company to put the discussions with the current interested parties on hold for now.

“The directors’ decision to suspend the sale process for the time being is fully supported by the group’s secured lenders.”

Stewart Milne Group chief executive Stuart MacGregor said: “When we took the decision to sell the business in early 2022, market conditions were very different from those we are facing today.

“It has been gratifying to witness the level of interest in our business from potential buyers and 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.”

Mr MacGregor added: “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.

“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.

“The unique nature of many of our developments mean they are well-placed to attract homeowners, even in the current market conditions.”

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