Murray Capital turnover slips to £84m

David D Murray, Managing Director of Murray Capital

Edinburgh-based Murray Capital said turnover for the group from continued operations was £84.3 million in the year to June 2023, down 4% on the previous year.

The firm said the fall in turnover was driven primarily by the impact of falling steel prices on the Murray Steels business and the lack of any significant land sales by Murray Estates during the period.

Group profits fell from £12.8 million to £4.1 million as the price of steel normalised after a record 2022 when prices had soared as the global economy bounced back from the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine disrupted steel supply chains.

Shareholders’ funds grew by 5% to £46.2 million and net cash fell to £6.1 million from £7.2 million.

Murray Capital is a family-run business with a diverse portfolio of interests. It is wholly owned by the Murray family and now run by the second generation, with Sir David Murray having handed the reins to his sons, David and Keith, in March 2021.

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

The group said it made both new and follow-on investments to support its diverse portfolio of businesses.

The largest single investment in the year was the acquisition of a property on Rutland Street, in the west end of Edinburgh.

Once its refurbishment is complete next year, it will be the new head office for Murray Capital, which has been based in nearby Charlotte Square for 25 years.

In April, Murray Capital sold its stake in one of Scotland’s leading independent financial advisory firms, Argyle Consulting, to the management team.

In June, the group also sold its share of Murray Energy PTE, a Singapore-based supplier of steel products to the Asian market, to its management.

David Murray, managing director of Murray Capital, said: “Last year was a solid performance, rather than a spectacular one, but in the macro environment we’ve been operating in, I think it’s reasonable to consider that a success.

“I’m pleased to see the respective management teams of our Asian steels business and Argyle Consulting taking those businesses forward and I will continue to track their progress with interest.

“We held a stake in Argyle for 20 years and exited at a decent return on our original investment. Selling our stake in the Singapore firm allows us to focus more of our efforts on our UK steels businesses, which are still performing well.

“The current financial year has started positively, albeit trading is behind the last couple of years.

“We will continue to take a long-term and patient view of our various investments, which we believe will be necessary as the effects of the cost of money increases and higher inflation start to take real effect.

“Progress in the Murray Estates portfolio has not been as quick as we would have liked, but we are not immune to the slowing down of the housing market, due to increasing interest and mortgage rates as well as inflated construction costs.

“I was encouraged to hear the Scottish Government’s housing minister, Paul McLennan, recently identify the west of Edinburgh as a key strategic location for new housing that will help address the critical shortage in provision we face as a city and a country.

“Edinburgh Council’s ‘Towards West Edinburgh 2050’ strategy would appear to be a very positive development in that context too, as we have more than 500 acres of land in western Edinburgh that should be material in the city’s expansion in the coming years.

“That includes 23 acres at the International Business Gateway site beside the airport, our plans for which – including 200 apartments – were approved by the council but called in for review by the Scottish Government in 2019. Nearly five years on, we are still awaiting a final decision.

“More positively, we are now in exclusive negotiations with a housing developer for our Edinburgh Garden District development, having secured final outline planning approval in 2022 for 1,350 homes – including family and affordable accommodation – a primary school, commercial retail centre and supporting infrastructure.

“Hopefully we’ll have more to say on that site in the early part of next year.”

David’s brother Keith runs the family’s wine business and their father, Sir David Murray, chairs the company.