A need for homes in north-east Scotland during the 1970s oil bonanza allowed Aberdeen-based builder Stewart Milne to diversify the tenement flat conversion business he had founded in 1975. By 1989, his company had acquired a local developer and started a £70m, 1,300-home development outside Aberdeen. Milne’s more recent success began with his acquisition of housebuilder Ambion Homes in 1996. The deal took Stewart Milne Group beyond its Grampian roots into lucrative Glasgow and Edinburgh city projects during the housing market recovery. This pushed company profits up by 43% pa, from £3m in 1996 to £8.8m in 1999. Sales in the same period have risen by 19% pa to reach £115.1m. Profit growth was also helped by a sideline in making timber house frames for builders around the UK and for Ministry of Defence use in the Falkland Islands. Prefabricated timber frames have become especially popular in England, where skilled construction labour has been in short supply since the early 1990s property recession.
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