David Murray hands over to sons; turnover at £100m

David Murray

Murray Capital Group has filed accounts for the 18-month period ending June 30, 2020, showing turnover from continued operations of £100.1 million — as ownership of the family-run business passes from entrepreneur David Murray to his sons David and Keith.

In March 2021, a planned transition was achieved with Murray Capital Holdings, a company owned by David D. Murray and Keith A. Murray, acquiring the share capital of the company for an undisclosed sum.

Murray Capital Group’s companies include real estate, steel stockholding, wine making and distribution, together with an investment portfolio of quoted and unquoted businesses.

The company’s principal activities are the development of land for the residential and commercial sectors, investment in private companies and real estate, wine importing and distribution, and the provision of metal stockholding, processing and distribution.

During the period of the accounts filed with Companies House this week, the company undertook significant restructuring and felt the impact of Covid-19 as it registered a pre-tax loss.

Murray Capital Group said the pre-tax loss of £11.6 million was “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 senior remains chairman of the group, which said it anticipates a strong return to profitability this year on the back of a number of positive developments in its portfolio and the future prospects of its large strategic land assets.

Murray Estates continued to invest heavily in strategic land assets and in April 2020 planning permission was granted for the Edinburgh Garden District to the west of the capital that includes 1,100 new homes.

In May 2019, the company’s proposals for the Edinburgh International Business Gateway, a mixed-use development near the city’s airport, secured planning consent in principle, but 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.

The group said that highlights since end of the 2020 reporting period include the sale of 68 acres of consented land at Torrance Park in North Lanarkshire to Taylor Wimpey and Barratt Developments, the sale of 462 units at its Kingdom Park development in Kirkcaldy to Barratt Developments, Persimmon Homes and Persimmon Partnerships, and the sale of Multi Metals, Murray Capital’s aluminium business, to its management team.

David Murray, chairman, Murray Capital Group, 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.”