Estate agents Jackson Stops & Staff have taken on a new Director of Residential Development, Hugo Stuttaford to develop the professional side of the business, as well as disposals – particularly acting for banks, public bodies and institutions.
Writes Hugo: “Following a somewhat prolonged spell as a student I left Cambridge University after reading Land Economy to join Knight Frank and Rutley (as it was then ) in 1988 on their graduate training scheme within the commercial side of the business. I had six happy months as a “shed shifter” leasing and selling industrial space in often (it has to be said) not the most upmarket of locations.
“It certainly came as good grounding after the “ dreaming spires” and certainly not what I might have been expecting when I joined a firm with such a large reputation for selling very expensive houses! Highlights included the sale of an operational Halal abattoir in the East End and a tannery in Somerset which seemed to have a trade in skins of a domestic pet variety which was somewhat disturbing as an animal lover.
“In December 1988 I transferred across to Knight Frank’s office in London Docklands. This was before the days of the Jubilee Line and a fully functional Docklands Light Railway and where lunch was bought out of a back of a white van! I was responsible for the leasing of a speculative 1 million square office scheme known as Harbour Exchange as well as brokerage of office investment deals on the back of Enterprise Zone tax incentives (you were able to claim tax relief on your purchase).
It was a general practice chartered surveying role which also included valuation and development consultancy assignments for developers, landowners , the London Docklands Development Corporation and the neighbouring London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Southwark.
“The first 6 months were hectic, with the market in full swing but the property crash of the 1989 came earlier to Docklands than other parts of London and the fall was more dramatic with a number of our well known clients taking a direct hit and overnight our new best friends became the mortgagees in possession and the receivers.
“I remained in the Docklands operation until 1996 when I was made a partner. My highlights included being part of Europe’s biggest regeneration project and Canary Wharf, as a practice never losing money, learning to hunt for business and narrowing escaping (by 5 minutes) an early death after the IRA unhelpfully removed the side of my office, desk, filing system and chair, depositing them into Millwall Inner dock.
“My next move was west to Sloane Street where I joined a small group of partners that made up the beginnings of the Residential Development Division, many of them former ‘Dockers’. During these busy years, this business grew at a exponential rate. From 2000- 2004, I jointly ran the firm’s Institutional Consultancy department specialising in the provision of consultancy, valuation and agency advice to schools, colleges and charities – a service that I would be keen to replicate here at Jackson Stops and Staff.
“My final move in the latter part of 2004 was to set up the regional land and valuation business for Knight Frank, based out of Guildford but with a patch that covered an area from Reading to Dover! This was an exciting time with some very large land instructions accounted for.
It was here that I frequently ran into Andrew Simpson and who has persuaded me to come across and with differing but complementary skill sets to assist him and the rest of the team in building the business with particular emphasis on land disposal, institutional work and professional advice.
“After 23.5 years with one firm, it has been quite a change. However, the transition has been made easy by the welcoming and ‘can-do’ nature of what are clearly a happy band of people, the support of previous and mutual clients, a well known and respected brand plus a belief that Jackson Stops & Staff appears to be the type of organisation that allows its staff to discover and nurture their own entrepreneurial spirit.
“So next time you see that property- please think about whether there might be a development angle – be it a land sale, consultancy or now a valuation report. If there is one thing that I have brought with me, it is that clients love joined-up thinking.”
Hugo can be contacted at the Firm’s Mayfair office on 020 7664 6644.