Connells snaps up 16-branch independent chain
Wednesday 9th November 2011
Connells has acquired Burchell Edwards, a 16-office firm in the Midlands, for an undisclosed sum.
The sale comes just three years after Burchell Edwards Estate Agents went into voluntary administration in the autumn of 2008 in the depths of the housing recession.
It was quickly bought out of administration by its management, Michael Bruce and his brother Kenny, via a company called Burchell Edwards Midlands, after shedding 32 staff.
Michael Bruce said: “That was a torrid time. But we built back up by consolidation and getting the right people involved in the business.”
Neither Michael Bruce, who has been chairman of Burchell Edwards, or chief executive Kenny Bruce, are staying with the business after its sale to Connells. Instead, said Michael Bruce, they will be concentrating on their business venture, JKM Property Solutions.
Connells said they were ‘delighted’ with their acquisition of their latest purchase, which includes 14 branded Burchell Edwards branches, two Ashley Adams branches and a conveyancing firm, Be Legal. All 16 branches handle both sales and lettings, and employ some 120 staff.
The purchase takes the Connells network to 487 offices.
Connells chief executive Stuart Flavell said: “This acquisition of an already successful and profitable independent estate agency will reinforce Connells’ strength in the Midlands housing market.
“Burchell Edwards will retain its existing trading names but benefit from Connells’ award-winning mortgage provision and support systems.
“We started 2011 with plans to build the Connells network and make strategic acquisitions to grow the business.
“The investment into Burchell Edwards estate agency marks the latest effort to boost Connells coverage and success in the residential market, both across the Midlands and nationwide.
“We are also keen to expand further and are seeking future acquisitions of estate agency and lettings businesses.”
The business that the Bruce brothers will now concentrate on, JKM Property Solutions, works with estate agents to sell properties in need of refurbishment.
The business is chaired by Harry Hill, former Countrywide boss, who has put £1.5m into it, and its directors include Gerry Fitzjohn, deputy chairman of the operating company that runs the Property Ombudsman scheme.
Last week, Hill said: “I can confirm that whilst JKM, like every provincial property business, is finding the market to be subdued, and sales arranged taking longer than we would like to exchange and complete (with the subsequent effect to cashflow etc), the business is not in severe financial difficulties and is trading normally with all its suppliers.
“Of course, we recognise that however hard one tries (and JKM do try very hard), it is impossible to delight every client every time.
“But in truth my visits (including one last week in Solihull) to homes renovated and sold with the JKM solution, normally find the buyers totally delighted with the home.”
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