Buccleuch turnover tops £54m amid land sales

Benny Higgins

Buccleuch — one of Scotland’s biggest private landowners — on Tuesday published group financial statements for the year ending October 31, 2018, showing group turnover of £54.2 million across its commercial property and rural business operations.

Buccleuch said overall profit after taxation was £23.2 million “due mainly to property revaluations and sales.”

It said the sales of land and property reflected a commitment to reducing the geographical footprint of the estates.

On May 30, Buccleuch said it intends to sell about 25,000 acres in the Scottish Borders, including Langholm Moor.

The 25,000 acres – stretching from Auchenrivock in the south to Hartsgarth in the north – are being marketed from Buccleuch’s Borders Estate.

In July, Buccleuch said it was holding discussions with community bodies which expressed an interest in acquiring sections of the swathes of land it is selling in the south west of Scotland.

Benny Higgins, executive chairman of MDS Estates Ltd, the parent company of Buccleuch, said on Tuesday: “We find ourselves on the cusp of an exciting period of change for Buccleuch.

“Within the commercial property sector, the commercial and residential markets have had a positive year, with record levels of investment and sustained growth in rental and capital values which were better than predicted.

“Against this background, Buccleuch Property had a positive year, delivering profitability against target and delivering to forecast on disposal and reinvestment commitments, setting us up in a strong position for the coming year.

“Diversification and an increasing shift to working within joint ventures in agriculture have and will continue to help the business maintain a positive position overall.

“While within forestry, the attainment of better than expected timber prices in the South of Scotland, combined with other works undertaken by the forestry team led to a substantial increase in revenue over the year, which looks set to be maintained.

“Brexit continues to cause uncertainty across all the sectors in which Buccleuch operate, although the true impact will not be known for a few years.

“We will continue to plan our various land uses, from forestry and farming, to hospitality and renewable energy, with a clear focus on economic, environmental and community considerations.

“In doing so, we will continue to review and shrink the footprint of Buccleuch, which, together with new projects and other investments will allow the business to maintain a surer footing.

“While we have reported profit of £23,230,000 in these accounts a very significant part of that arises from property revaluations and from profits on the sale of assets, rather than underlying operational performance, although that too has improved year on year.

“This strong financial position will improve job security for colleagues and provides the means to invest in other areas of the business.”

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.