Newcomer on the block Nick Dunning is set to be a major force in industry acquisitions, leading an ex-Countrywide trio with a big budget to spend on the acquisition of around 100 businesses in the next five years.
There is speculation that the group could even buy Countrywide itself.
While Countrywide seems to have stopped its own acquisition programme in its tracks around ten months ago, Dunning, former head of lettings at Countrywide, yesterday announced the multi-million pound purchase of Badger – the umbrella company for high street firms Townends and Regents, plus its conveyancing and other arms.
Dunning has quietly set up a firm, Nick Dunning Associates, whose other partners also have very recent ex-Countrywide history.
They are Graham Harrison and Matt Hewitt.
Harrison was chief executive of lettings firms Ashton Burkinshaw, which was sold to Countrywide in 2007. He went with the sale, going on to negotiate 19 acquisitions for Countrywide, leaving in 2015.
Hewitt had a seven-year stint at Countrywide, setting up its online function before spending the last few years as Countrywide’s chief marketing officer. He too then left.
Nick Dunning Associates, set up by the three last month, says on its website: “We have been asked by several funds to engage with them to find and acquire up to 24 primarily lettings businesses every year for the next five years.
“This is not really any different from what we have already been doing for the last eight years while at the UK’s largest property services group.
“However, this time we are only looking for businesses that come with good and established management teams, so that they can continue to grow through further acquisition of their local competitors as and when they wish to sell, with the same management teams sharing in the upsides those acquisitions bring.”
Yesterday’s announcement of the Badger purchase appears to fit precisely the criteria of the purchases, including with it a good and established management team.
Founder and until now chairman Tony Addinall is understood to have retired as a result of the sale of his highly successful and very family-oriented business.