Multimillionaire Stewart Milne, who has announced his retirement, is one of the north-east’s best-known entrepreneurs.
The Aberdeenshire-born entrepreneur plans to spend more time with family and friends, splitting his time in homes in Aberdeen, Perthshire, Turkey and Florida.
The unprecedented events of the last two years have forced many to re-evaluate and, after considerable soul-searching, I have decided that the time is right to step back from the business I founded to prioritise my time for family, friends and other ventures I want to pursue.”
His two boys, Jamie and Charlie, with his partner of nearly 30 years, Joanna Robertson, have now left home but Jamie is in Florida on a soccer scholarship.
Mr Milne has three other sons from a previous marriage – Gary, Michael and David, and is keen to look at business ventures with them, although Gary, who works at Stewart Milne Group (SMG), will continue to work there.
It is nearly 50 years since Mr Milne founded Stewart Milne Construction, which had
just 30 employees and turnover of £1 million in its first year.
Mr Milne said: “The unprecedented events of the last two years have forced many to re-evaluate and, after considerable soul-searching, I have decided that the time is right to step back from the business I founded to prioritise my time for family, friends and other ventures I want to pursue.”
The rags to riches tale of Stewart Milne
In a career spanning more than five decades, Stewart Milne has become one of the leading figures in the UK construction industry and, through his chairmanship of Aberdeen FC, a driving force in Scottish football.
His rise to the top and a prestigious home in Bieldside, Aberdeen, started in humble surroundings.
He was born on July 23 1950 near Alford, the fourth of five boys who grew up with no electricity or bathroom.
His parents came from a farming background and he left Alford Secondary School at 14 with no formal qualifications ending up staying at the YMCA in Aberdeen.
From 1965-71, he served his time as an electrician and qualified with a City and Guilds in electrical engineering, all the while day-dreaming of becoming a star winger with his beloved Dons. Little did he know he’d one day rise to become Aberdeen FC’s chairman.
His multimillion-pound building empire began with just £200 – a gift from his father, Willie, to help him set up in business.
Mr Milne and his business partner, plumber Gordon Bruce, also armed with £200, headed for the bank.
The young tradesmen managed to borrow another £400 to launch a new company, Bruce and Milne, which carried out small plumbing and electrical contracts.
After a year Mr Milne set up as a sole trader specialising in kitchen and bathroom conversions in tenement flats.
Stewart Milne and (left) the managing director Glenn Allison in the timber store at the company’s Westhill HQ. Pic Donald Stewart.
At Countesswells, in Aberdeen, in 2019.
The establishment of Stewart Milne Construction and the move into housebuilding came in 1975.
Mr Milne’s contributions to the construction industry and the north-east economy have been widely recognised and he was awarded a CBE for services to construction in 2008.
He has received honorary doctorates from Robert Gordon, Napier and Herriot Watt universities.
Other accolades include lifetime achievement awards from industry body Homes for Scotland and business support organisation Elevator, in 2014 and 2019 respectively.
He won a Scottish Business Achievement Award in 1993, the Chartered Institute of Building Open Award in 1998 and in 2005 he was named Ernst & Young Scottish Entrepreneur of the Year.
The Dons dimension
Outside his business, Mr Milne has been a director of Aberdeen FC since 1994, becoming vice-chairman in 1997 and chairman the following year. He stepped down as chairman at the end of 2019 but remains on the board.
Current Dons chairman Dave Cormack said: “Stewart has played an important role in the club’s history.
“His continued involvement as a director is appreciated by myself and the rest of the board who benefit from his knowledge, expertise and wise counsel built up over this time in the Scottish game.
“His patience, openness to new ideas, perseverance and dogged determination ensured the club weathered a number of storms.
“I’m certain these attributes have also been driving forces behind the success of Stewart Milne Group.”