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Is he fired? Apprentice star quits the London estate agency he set up

The former Apprentice runner-up Jamie Lester, who at one time ran four London estate agency branches under Haus Properties, says he is no longer involved with the company.

In a statement to Estate Agent Today he said that: “As of today, I have sold my share in Haus Properties and no longer run the company.”

Almost exactly a year ago Haus - which was launched in 2011 following Lester’s appearance on The Apprentice show 12 months earlier - opened its fourth office in Fulham. 

This was near the original Haus branch; the other two were in nearby Chiswick and Shepherd’s Bush - all areas of London where transactions and prices had boomed from 2011 to 2015.

Haus claimed a year ago that in its first four years of business it had sole £184m of property and collected £145m in rent for its landlord clients.

Despite a high-profile press release saying he had then recruited a star negotiator with experience at Foxtons, rumours began to circulate about the success of Haus.

In July we reported that Haus appeared to be operating from only two of its four offices. Initially, Lester claimed this was due to a lease expiring on one of the closed offices and a strategic decision to “streamline our services and focus our strengths.”

However, rumours about the company continued and last evening Lester told Estate Agent Today: “I had an amazing five years at Haus, and not only am I proud of the brand I created, the team and the awards we received, but I seem to have inspired the industry in approaching agency in a slightly different angle. 

“I am very excited taking on my next challenge – whatever that may be.”

There has been no announcement on the future of the remaining two branches or the Haus brand.

  • Mark Wilson

    What an exciting article.

  • Simon Shinerock

    What an exciting comment. Actually I find this article fascinating because it demonstrates a principle go which I try to adhere regarding image. Haus was all about image and yes, it's offices and website are amazing to look at but in agency, all that glitters is not gold. Some agents suffer from brand envy, they look at a Foxtons shop and they think if only my shop looked like that then I would be as successful as Foxtons. Some even borrow money and spend it on a swish new image, a massive refit and a big PR relaunch, unfortunately this rarely works and often leaves the agent bitter and in debt. The reality is that Foxtons became successful because of what they did, not what they looked like and then they spent some of the money on nice offices, why not, they earned it. Put another way, if you took a team of the best agents and put them in a rubbish shop with a crap image and put them up against an average team in a great office with a fabulous image the best team would win easily.

    Fake Agent

    Who'd want their shop to look like Foxtons? It's a total assault on the eyes! Loud, bright, showy, ostentatious, artificial and far too overwhelming - puts me off big time.

    Agree with your more general point, though. Haus clearly looked the part - with the offices, the swish website, the big PR drive - but clearly something has gone a bit wrong somewhere. I think brand and image are still important, but this needs to be backed up with substance and result.

    No amount of glitz and glamour can hide glaring deficiencies.

     
    Jon  Tarrey

    "Put another way, if you took a team of the best agents and put them in a rubbish shop with a crap image and put them up against an average team in a great office with a fabulous image the best team would win easily."

    Not sure I agree with that, Simon. A rubbish shop and a crap image are going to be very offputting, just like a restaurant that looks dire from the outside. You wouldn't want to live in a dive of house just because the people inside are the best, would you?

    You need to attract people inside to begin with - to do that, the brand needs to look the part. It's all about perception and image. Of course, this needs to be backed up with good agents who know what they're doing, but I'm not sure I agree with your sentiment that it's all about the agent and stuff the rest. Lots of different things play a part in the success, or otherwise, of an agency.

     
    Mark Walker

    For once, Simon Shinerock, we are in complete agreement.

     
  • Andrew Ireland

    Totally agree Simon; agency is at its core about people not brand. However price does come into it today with the internet offering sellers a real chance at reducing the cost of a sale, e,g Purple bricks. The question is how long will Right Move remain exclusive to agents only?

  • Fake Agent

    Interesting. Style over substance, image over experience/gravitas, PR over results - as Haus and others will find out, that only takes you so far.

    I seem to remember Mr Lester being very bullish this time last year. I do wonder what went wrong?

  • Jon  Tarrey

    Maybe he should try again on The Apprentice. With the quality of candidate this year, he'd probably walk it!

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Always interesting to investigate the figures behind (previous) hype. Jamie and haus did very well to win awards, had an amazing PR machine and genuinely appeared to create a successful, cutting edge brand. However latest accounts filed in May show a loss of over £440k with a loss of £215k the year prior- not many businesses can survive with thos enegative figures. Yet, you have to ask, in an incredibly strong London market the last 2 years and their claimed volume of sales and rental business this should have been highlhy profitable. All too often, the agents that grab the biggest headlines display some 'interesting' company accounts- not always, but too often.

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