Strettons looks for new opportunities

Photo by Louise Haywood-Schiefer
Photo by Louise Haywood-Schiefer

You might be surprised to learn that Strettons now has 18 graduates in its training programme.

You might also be surprised to learn that it grew its staff numbers by close to 10% last year, to 115. Four new directors were appointed over that same period, giving it a senior leadership of 13. And the firm is still busy hiring.

Strettons’ east London heartland is now the “centre of the universe”, as director Simon Tilsiter puts it, and the 86-year-old firm is determined to make the most it – and to continue growing its business further afield. That includes a new brand and website, launched this week, to make it more visible in the market.

“We have kept under the radar, now we want to be above the radar and be seen by as many people as possible. We enjoy what we do and it would be nice to let others know,” says fellow director Neal Matthews, who heads the industrial agency team.

“From my perspective, focusing on industrial, occupiers have been pushed further out. We have sold outside the M25, where people who were in Hackney or Leyton are now moving to.”

The firm has been there every step of the way during the transformation of East London, and has gained extensive experience and expertise advising on large regeneration projects.

In recent years, it has advised on deals in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park area, E20, and on the land assembly for Tottenham Hotspur’s new White Hart Lane stadium, N17. It has also worked with Tower Hamlets council on its Aldgate masterplan and with landowners in Spitalfields and Shoreditch, developing their portfolios.

Chairman Ben Tobin, whose father and uncle founded the firm in 1931, says: “Councils in London suddenly wake up and realise what they’ve got to work with. We are also being approached by owners and investors from other boroughs because they see the work we have done.”

Strettons’ clients include Grainger, Boultbee Brooks, Travelodge and Lidl, and the local authorities of Hackney, Newham and Enfield.

The growth of the TMT sector has been the firm’s “lifeblood”, says director Mark Bolton, who heads up commercial and leads the City/City fringe office.

“The TMT sector is now moving to Haggerston, Dalston and Bethnal Green, which are all areas that are the focus of serious attention from propcos and funds. However, there are some constraints. The land ownership can be quite fragmented in some areas.”

While it is synonymous with East London, Strettons is increasingly active elsewhere.

“In the last six months we have had instructions in Southampton, Newcastle, all sorts of places you wouldn’t ascribe to Strettons but we can take that regeneration brief and do it anywhere,” says Tilsiter.

Director Philip Waterfield, who heads Strettons’ thriving auctions business, has his eye on growth areas, including the M11 corridor.

“There has been a new village announced there with 10,000 homes and the gates are open for the whole of Cambridge now, quite frankly,” he says.

Tobin believes team members thrive on being able to do wide range of work and clients prefer building a relationship with one person.

“We encourage people to develop new skills and give a lot of responsibility to staff at an early stage with the necessary support for new starters who have good ideas. We give staff client contact much sooner than they might have elsewhere,” he says.

“Many of us have worked in different departments and have varying skills. We are agile enough to put it all together,” adds Tilsiter.

The key challenge now, Tobin acknowledges, will be to keep the atmosphere and relationships of a small firm as Strettons expands.

It may have a new brand, but it is determined to hang on to its ethos.   

Recent deals

  • Completed 240,000 sq ft of office lettings and 658,000 sq ft of industrial leasing in the past 18 months
  • Acquired three hotels on behalf of Travelodge, with six in the pipeline, and a GDV of more than £38m
  • Sold five ex-factory buildings, totalling 176,000 sq ft on 7.1 acres, in towns just outside the M25 (Hoddesdon, Cheshunt and Harlow), which have been converted and broken up to provide multi-tenanted industrial space.

Regenerating estates

  • South Wimbledon, Mitcham & Morden – three estates in Merton to deliver 2,000 units (Circle Housing Merton Priory)
  • Ponder’s End & New Southgate – two estates to deliver 600+ private rented units (London Borough of Enfield)
  • East Village – redevelopment of affordable elements of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford. Delivery of 704 flats within 1,379 development programme (Triathlon Homes)
  • Kings Cross Central – valuers on the affordable elements of the residential phases of the scheme since 2008 (One Housing Group)

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