JKM, the property company set up by the former owners of Burchell Edwards estate agents and chaired by former Countrywide boss Harry Hill, is set to close after clearing its existing business.
Callers to JKM Property Solutions are being told that the company is winding down, while its website says it is the subject of change and development.
Harry Hill himself said in a post on EAT on Wednesday this week that the company had not been successful. It had, he said, been a ‘brilliant concept’, and it was a ‘terrible, terrible shame’ to see it go.
In his post, he wrote: “JKM was and is a brilliant concept into which friends and I invested materially and I became non-exec chairman.
“As with all businesses, success or failure depends on a variety of factors including amongst other things, management skills, cost control, product, state of the market, debtor management and sometimes luck.
“I visited the operation regularly, and have no doubt that many people within the business worked very hard and long hours – but, as you know, without much success and the whole thing has, for now at least, been scaled back to a very small team who are initially overseeing the completion of all deals in the pipeline.
“Had all PD’s achieved a reasonable volume of sales each month, JKM would have been an outstanding success – but sadly many achieved very little despite good sustained financial support over an extended period, and I don’t believe that anyone other than investors (and we are big and ugly enough to know that all new business investments carry a high degree of risk) suffered any financial loss.
“Do I think it is a shame? Yes absolutely– a terrible, terrible shame.”
The concept always appeared hard to sell, involving buyers putting in firm offers for run-down properties, and JKM doing work such as installing Magnet kitchens and new bathrooms between exchange and completion.
Last November, Michael and Kenny Bruce sold Burchell Edwards for an undisclosed sum to Connells, three years after the brothers bought it out of administration.
At the time, they said that they would be concentrating on JKM. Persistent rumours that the firm was in trouble – along with allegations of poor workmanship – were denied by Harry Hill, who personally poured £1.5m into the venture.
Another loser may have been Gerry Fitzjohn, a director of JKM at the time but who is understood to have since stepped aside. He is now chief operating officer of the company that runs The Property Ombudsman scheme.