My morning alarm clock time is dictated purely by the geography of the day ahead. With clients dotted all around England, Scotland and Wales, and over 30 specialist retail colleagues from both the agency and valuation side of our business, located across 14 regional offices, I have a variety of potential destinations to head off to when stepping over the threshold of the house I share with my partner Gilly, in West Yorkshire.
I consider myself very fortunate in that I wake up 99% of the time in a positive mood and with a passion for life and the industry in which I work. Regardless of my timetable, I like to start the day with a ’quick win’ so, from 7.15am onwards, I tend to catch up with colleagues who are en route to the office. We spend so much time in slow-moving traffic, it’s an ideal and productive way to break up an often monotonous journey.
My role within Christie & Co on the corporate retail team is as multi-dimensional as our business. We are not, as often perceived, ’just agents looking to sell your business’.
My role can be broken down in to several core areas, for example: consultancy/valuation projects we have advised on many projects over the years for banks, insolvency practitioners, receivers, private equity and private investors. You never know where your expertise will be needed next.
With a distinct lack of quality sites coming to the open market, we are often approached to unlock opportunities in a discreet and confidential manner and that is not exclusive to petrol. With many operators looking to diversify into standalone convenience stores, I am in regular contact with our pubs, restaurant, day nursery and healthcare teams about sites that would be suitable for retail use.
Client contact is important because in many cases, agreeing a deal is the easy part, getting that deal across the finishing line is the challenge. As an agent we are the only party that is able to speak to the vendor, purchaser, landlord, landlord’s agent and the solicitors. It’s frightening as to how many deals fall over due to tunnel vision and inflexibility.
In the current climate, creative thinking, years of experience and good old-fashioned dialogue are what’s needed and, as a straight-talking Yorkshire man, I am always happy to oblige!
Business generation, is another core role for me. As Maureen Lipman used to say, "It’s good to talk"; and then comes mentoring and coaching. As a senior member of the team, I am always on hand to help my colleagues with technical issues. We have a strict valuation checking procedure to follow as part of our professional indemnity cover and I am very involved in the sign-off process.
In truth, every day is different and that is the challenge. You never know what the next email or telephone call will bring, but it’s fair to say that the most exciting and demanding opportunities rarely present themselves between the hours of nine and five.
Having originally entered the forecourt market almost 10 years ago, at the behest of many of our convenience-retail clients who were clever enough to see the fantastic potential for convenience retailing on forecourts, we started very much from the bottom up, dealing with the independent operators, before progressing to the multiple and group operators.
We now deal with the majority of the Top 50 Indies on a variety of projects. These range from site acquisitions, sale leasebacks, rationalisation, loan security and fuel-bond valuations, rent review work and general feasibility and consultancy advice.
Our sister companies Christie Finance and Christie Insurance have also become major players in the forecourt arena.
I await with anticipation for the next 10 years and the changes ahead in the forecourt market.
Company: Christie & Co
Job title: Director, corporate retail
Career history: Worked in banking and for two specialist business agents before joining Christie & Co’s Leeds office in 1999. Joined the corporate retail team in 2004, specialising in fuel and convenience
Greatest achievement: Maintaining a positive mental attitude which enforces my belief that my greatest achievement is yet to come. I would hate to think I have already peaked!
Tips for business success: Know your limits and don’t be afraid to trust your gut instinct
Most likely to say: "You should try everything in life at least once"
Least likely to say: "Always take the path of least resistance"