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15 August 2004
Scotland on Sunday
Milne raises the roof on plans for £10m factory

STEWART Milne, the construction company, is to build a second £10m timber frame factory in England, employing up to 200 workers, as the group bids to capture new markets.

The plant will be positioned to attract business from the urban conurbations of Manchester and Liverpool in the north-west, and Newcastle and Leeds in the east.

Until now, the Aberdeen-based firm has said that part of its UK corporate development plans included a search for land and acquisitions south of the Border.

Now Milne has firmed up on its expansion plans - central to a doubling of the group’s annual turnover up to 2010 from a current £200m.

The group has already invested £10m in a timber frame factory at Witney, near Oxford, employing more than 200. It supplies house builders and has a capacity to increase its annual production line from 4,000 to 6,000 units.

The group’s managing director, Glenn Allison, said: "The new plant will be a ‘north’ version of our Oxfordshire plant and of approximately the same capacity."

Allison and group chief executive and chairman Stewart Milne are now looking at likely sites.

The plant should be up and running within three to four years.

Ideally, the company is looking at buying a substantial piece of land and acquiring an existing business.

Earlier this year the group beefed up its boardroom to allow the two executives more time to scout for business in England. Iain Innes is now in charge of the entire Scottish homes division.

The firm recorded pre-tax profits of £14m last year - a 65% improvement on 2002.

The group employs about 1,000 staff directly and a further 500 sub-contractors. By 2010 its projected rate of growth should see total employment swell to between 2,500 and 3,000.

Stewart Milne also has ambitions to start house building in England and Wales. The company has been involved in a three-way fight with Miller Group and Applecross to redevelop Tynecastle, home of Hearts football club, as a housing scheme.

Allison said: "We have submitted a bid, along with others. Any land in the central belt that becomes available we are interested in. That is all I can say at the moment."

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