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INTERVIEW


to being hands-on, being on the board, at least having a voice that people listen to. When you do private equity you’re handing all that over to outsiders, who often don’t share your passion, and the only communication you get is a letter saying: ‘Sorry, you’ve lost your money’. As a result, I’m very cautious and cynical of the private equity world.


Do you think it’s harder to start a company from scratch now than it was in 1991 when you started? Absolutely not! It’s easier to start a business now than it has ever been. You can create a company, a website, order stationary and be trading using Amazon and eBay in a day. To start a business and focus on a niche area and provide a great service to a particular consumer is quite easy to do. This is probably the most exciting time to start a business. However, setting up a sustainable and


successful business is a totally different kettle of fish. With this, you are going into the fundamentals of business, which are obviously cashflow, credit terms and all the other stuff involved in that process. Either you know or learn how to run a successful business, or you don’t – it’s as simple as that.


You have a substantial property portfolio with your company Maxicorp, which you founded in 1996. Tell us about that. A lot of people aren’t aware of my property background – it was never as ‘PR worthy’ as Maximuscle. The business of Maximuscle was successful from an early stage, so every time we moved premises we never sold anything, we just rented them out, so the business became a landlord by accident. After a time we ended up having numerous properties before my move to Guernsey in August 2005. Having been in the residential and commercial market in the UK for some time, I saw that things were getting exceedingly bubbly, so I decided in 2007 to liquidate everything in the UK before the market turned. For a few years, we had been looking to


move part of the Maximuscle business to Guernsey. Unfortunately we couldn’t find office or warehouse space. By the time we were able to secure the places, Maximuscle was too entrenched in the UK. I had already bought quite a lot of open-market property and investment properties in Guernsey for that move, so it ended up being a good investment as opposed to helping move the business. When I came here in 2005, I liked


32 businesslife.co October/November 2011


“I’m reluctant to get involved with start-ups. While they can be fun, they’re a very high-risk investment as so many fail”


what I saw, the fundamentals made sense. And compared to North London the market was good value, so I invested quite a lot in the Guernsey market and invested more after 2007 when we exited the UK, and the market turned, allowing us to pick up prime assets at sensible prices.


While you have prime property in London, your main focus appears to be in offshore jurisdictions – why is that? We focus on the key offshore jurisdictions – the Channel Islands in particular, because they are on our doorstep and we have an excellent team based in the islands that looks after those properties and manages them. We’ve started to venture back into prime London and prime UK again, actually because of the lack of opportunities in the Channel Islands – there’s not much coming up for sale that is of sufficient quality. We are also


focusing on the high-end residential development. One of the things we hear from people coming over here is that they can’t find the UK-type product and quality they want. So we are investing in the top end of the residential market and taking it to the next level. So when you do get high-net-worths coming over here, they can see something that they are used to.


You moved to Guernsey in 2005. What made you choose the island? I’ve been coming here since I was a young boy. We came on holiday here as a family and it was always a place I promised I’d end up living. I’ve always found it beautiful – stunning. I remember being seven years old and saying to my father that one day I would live here, and I was able to achieve that in 2005. There are so many things I love about being here: great boating – I’m a keen boater


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