For some, property developing is a hobby that brings excitement and challenge to their lives, for others it’s a career, that when executed correctly can bring fortune and in some cases, fame.
We have seen what goes into a successful development project, but just what makes a successful developer?
When we look at the successful UK property developer ladder, planted firmly at the top are the Candy brothers, Christian and Nick, whose rise to such lofty heights began in 1995. With the mortgage guarantee from their father and a £6,000 loan from their grandmother, they bought their first property, a one-bed flat in Fulham. Within 18 months they had sold the renovated property for a £50,000 profit. Doubling their money on their next property gave them the confidence to establish their firm Candy & Candy, which went on to be hugely successful.
By September 2004, the brothers had amassed enough of a fortune for them to put up £13m for a Belgravia former BT telephone exchange. With plans to convert the property into 6 luxury flats, just 12 months later the valuation was a staggering £25m.
The Candy’s acknowledge that this was a monumental moment:
“Chesham Place was the tipping point for us. It was the first big life-changing deal. We did it on our own. We got planning and we persuaded Norman Foster to design a relatively boutique building. With Chesham Place we went from doing one-off flats to doing something pretty substantial.”
The brothers hit the news again when they bought ‘Bowater House,’ a shabby 1950s office block on the site of One Hyde Park for £150m in 2004 and then convinced the Qatari royal family to spend almost £1bn in developing it.
It’s clear to see that the Candy brothers hit the property jackpot, but what was it that set them aside from every other developer? Most people will attribute their success to their forward thinking vision.
Even their critics had to agree that the brothers’ vision of recognising that pre-millennium London was the city everyone wanted to live in was pure genius. The influx of Middle Eastern royalty, Russian oligarchs and billionaire tax exiles in the 90’s forged the perfect audience with whom to offer their luxuriant, opulent dream renovation projects to.
Henry Pryor, a luxury property buying agent said at the time:
“They understood the marketing and selling of property. They sold people a dream. They very successfully and quite determinedly delivered what people wanted. They created a brand within property, which no one had done until they came along. Consumers say: ‘I don’t want any luxury flat, I want a Candy flat.”
Giles Barrie, managing director at FTI Consulting and former editor of Property Week said this about them:
“They created something in property for the uber-rich that no one had thought of. They realised London was becoming a magnet for global wealth and they created a location for that super-wealth.”
Simon Devonshire of BIS says the balance is about “people being prepared to pay for what you are selling.”
So although installing ‘swimming pools that turn into ballrooms’, may not be part of your renovation plans, knowing what your audience need, (and more importantly, want), working with the best architects and designers and ensuring your project is fully insured can mean the difference between success and super-success.
Having hit the record books with the One Hyde Park property, a sale of £135 million may be enough to persuade the brothers to slow down a little with their business endeavours, but things couldn’t be further from the truth. Constantly striving for bigger and better projects, the brothers look to spread their wings worldwide and leave their mark on each and every major city.
As one Candy brother says: “I want my children to walk past One Hyde Park and look up and say, “Daddy did that.””
[Photo by Matt Brown]