The impact of Covid-19 has been far reaching across most sectors of the UK economy and many businesses have seen their turnover and profits reduced if not wiped out entirely. The challenges of lockdown on business activity hit many property developers hard as work on sites and projects came to a halt. In some cases projects have been mothballed while the developers/owners, their lenders and contractors decide whether the business model for the end usage still even exists.
Thankfully, and notwithstanding anecdotal evidence of shortages of materials, many smaller projects have either recommenced works or the builders were able to carry on to completion. This month’s interview was no exception as the first site visit took place some seven months ago back in mid-January. I returned recently to see the completed project and met up with Chris Jones and Dorothy Atkins, the developers at this project, which is outside Marlow in leafy Buckinghamshire.
As Dorothy explained, they had teamed up after first meeting each other some five years ago. “Yes we have a good business partnership and enjoy working together on projects. On this project the figures for investment worked beautifully, as compared to the end GDV (gross development value), the purchase price was relatively low. The cost of development is also not that high as the building was already in place.”
Chris explained what they have done with this project. “It’s an ex-bank building in a fairly rural village setting near Marlow and which was occupied by the old Midland Bank up until the 1990’s. As I understand it, a bank robbery took place and a decision was subsequently made to close it. As you can see in the photos it’s not a huge building but its got some character with two lovely large bow-fronted windows. Since the bank vacated its been used as offices.”
How did you find the deal? “It was a Sunday afternoon and a friend of mine has a business in this village,” said Chris. “We had arranged to meet up to discuss the refurb of her business premises and to talk through some possible design ideas. It was just a coffee meet between two friends. On the way back to my car, I saw a For Sale board and then decided to look on Rightmove to see how much they were asking.