Humberts is to open an office in central London. It has not had a London presence for some years and its image is that of a rural firm with no outlets within the M25.
However, it has now announced a forthcoming acquisition in the Home Counties, plus plans to develop a franchised network, suggesting it now plans to expand in south-east commuter territory – something it may have been constrained to do until now.
The new Humberts office, in Mayfair, which marks its return to the capital, will be under the direction of industry heavyweight David Adams, marking his own return to the firm.
Adams previously worked at Chesterton Humberts between 2008 and 2011 as residential director. He has since been managing director of specialist firm, London-based John Taylor. Adams will be bringing both his clients and an “extensive database” to Humberts.
Chestertons and Humberts merged as Chesterton Humberts in late 2008, as the housing market crashed. Each firm had had its own particular problems.
The two firms de-merged in early 2014, effectively marking the end of the housing market crisis.
At that time, Chestertons – which was at that point reported as being up for sale – had 29 offices in London plus 20 overseas, and Humberts had 24 branches, all outside the M25.
Chestertons, with a price tag of £50m, announced the following year, in 2015, that a sale was “off the agenda” for two to three years.
In March this year, it emerged that respected Chestertons CEO Robert Bartlett had departed. No reason was given but he now appears to be on sabbatical.
While the opening of a new Humberts office in central London raises questions as to Chestertons’ strategy, Humberts is making it clear that it will be treading its own path.
Humberts managing director Ian Westerling – who ran the London Marathon yesterday – told EYE at the weekend: “Whilst our intention is still to work closely with our sister firm, we are progressing with our own expansion strategy, which includes establishing our brand again in prime central London.”
Humberts, which did have an office in London before the Chesterton Humberts era, will, he said, be expanding by acquisition, developing a franchise network away from its wholly owned territory – last autumn, a franchised office opened in the Lake District – and will continue to grow its branches.
Westerling said that the potential acquisition is in the Home Counties – where there has been a “hole” in the branch network.
An announcement on the acquisition is expected shortly.
Westerling said: “Chestertons and Humberts continue to have the same owners and we continue to do business together, and we envisage this relationship to be strengthened with the renewed investment in the Humberts brand.”
He also said he was delighted to welcome Adams back to the firm.
He said: “Our focus for the past three years has been solely outside of the capital – however, with the pound low against foreign currencies and whilst we’re at a strategic point in the property cycle, we recognise the real opportunity to build our business in the heart of London.”
Adams, below, said: “Humberts has really found its place in the market and I’m delighted to be bringing my 25 years-plus of experience to launch the brand in London. I will be bringing both clients and my extensive database to the business whilst making new hires.
“As Humberts has recently started a new lettings division, we will over time be launching a lettings service too.”