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supplychain Russell


GEORGE SELL talks to Russell Jervis, managing director of estate


agents Spicer Haart about acquisitions, mortgage


availability and getting on with it.


INTERVIEW with


Jervis


A career in estate agency has given Russell Jervis a good vantage point from which to observe the peaks and troughs of the housing market, and he is convinced that we are currently at the early stages of an upturn. Jervis started in estate agency at a company called Strutt Daughters in Colchester. “I started coming in part-time on a four-week trial, and was offered a full-time position there, which resulted in me moving from negotiator, to senior negotiator, to opening an office in Felixstowe, and then returning to Colchester. Strutt Daughters was bought by Connells, and the previous owners went to work for them for a short while, and then left. I didn’t get on too well with the new ownership structure and set about looking for a new opportunity.” After a while at an independent agency Jervis joined Spicer McColl in 1990 to set up its mortgage division. “I dealt with mortgages there for five years and that’s when I first came in to contact with the new homes industry as we serviced numerous Beazer Homes sites in East Anglia,” he says. In 1995 Spicer McColl took over a large slice of


the Cornerstone network. “We went from three offices to 73 overnight, which caused a bit of indigestion as you can imagine,” says Jervis. “We then went through a series of acquisitions and I stayed in mortgages for the next two years as financial services director, before transferring back into estate agency in 1997.” The following years saw the company steadily growing, and Jervis getting more involved with new homes. “We continued to expand our business with the opening of Felicity J Lord in London, in the City and Docklands. Through that company we really started to get involved with the London housebuilding market, working closely with Furlong Homes, as it was then, Mizen Homes


50| July 2011 showhouse


and Lincoln Holdings, and then Telford Homes. I was quite active in the early days of launching Telford Homes in London.” The next stage was the acquisition of Woolwich Property Services and the launch of Haart estate agents, with its strapline of ‘Haart is where the home is’, which worked “incredibly well in getting us noticed”. Further acquisitions and expansion throughout


2000 saw the group move in to Wales, and launch “a new homes division that was operational, but had a few false starts I would say. It was predominantly strong in the east of the country, in Essex and the Docklands area – Felicity J Lord and Spicer McColl had been our predominant new homes operations,” say Jervis. “Fast forward to 2003 and I was running a quarter


of the company at that point, and in April I became managing director for the estate agency division. That evolved into setting up and opening our sales division in Blackpool, and acquiring the Haybrook business in Sheffield in 2007 – which bought us huge knowledge in the new homes and assisted moves arena. We had difficult times in 2008 and had to streamline the business – we took out nearly £40 million worth of costs over the 18 months of the downturn and then started heavily reinvesting in 2009, expanding our network.” It was at an awards dinner in November 2009 that Jervis had a significant encounter which would have major implications for the Spicer Haart Group’s new homes offer. He says: “We saw a young man called Peter Krelle collect his award for the top agency for new homes sales, and after having a chat with him at the bar, the first step of our dream to become a major force in land and new homes became a reality. Peter joined us in May 2010, and Spicer Haart Land and New Homes in its current format


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