I graduated from Liverpool in the summer of 1986, which was a difficult time in the market. I tried to find a job in Manchester or Leeds but to no avail. Then, surprisingly, I got three job offers in Newcastle from Bernard Thorpe (now Cushman Wakefield – after several evolutions), Storey Sons and Parker (now LSH) Newcastle and Sanderson Townend and Gilbert (STG). I took the job at STG as I was impressed by Eric Morgan, who interviewed me and took the time to walk me around Newcastle and explain the market. I started in the agency team as a graduate surveyor doing both office and industrial agency but also some retail work. My strongest memory of my early time at STG was a fax machine arriving in the office shortly after me and we all stood and watched in amazement as a fax was received. Then even more impressively, I used to do some work with Mike McIntosh of Quayside Property Corporation, who had a mobile phone and would walk around with it carrying the battery over his shoulder.
In terms of the commercial property market, the biggest change I have seen over the past 25 years is the move to ‘out of town’ developments – the most notable being Metrocentre for retail and Newcastle Business Park and the Quayside for offices. The deregulation of the markets by Margaret Thatcher, alongside demand from the service sector, resulted in bigger, open plan floor plans, which has continued with developments at Quorum and Cobalt Business Parks.
The biggest impact in the industrial sector has undoubtedly been Nissan, which was initially brought to the North East to make up for the loss of the heavy engineering jobs, but the success of the factory has gone way beyond even the most optimistic expectations in terms of size, efficiency and inward investment in the region.
Since the start of my career I have worked in most sectors of the market place and currently spend most my time in the management sector. I do, however, still enjoy working in consultancy and development work. There have been major structural changes in North East employment since I started, with the move away from heavy engineering and manufacturing to a more service-based economy. Also, the need to be able to demonstrate a highly specialist knowledge and understanding of your market is a lot more marked and this can be seen across the advisory service sectors.
The huge progress in IT has brought the ability to deal and manage a far greater caseload with much improved speed, clarity and accessibility. However, I think the biggest change within the industry has been the realisation that we are primarily a service sector and this has brought a significant shift to becoming more customer-focused, with increasing importance placed on offering a high-quality level of service to clients.
The future is always uncertain and full of challenges, but more importantly, lots of opportunities. I think technology is going to play an increasingly important role in helping us provide an ever-improving quality of service to both landlords and tenants.
Technology is also changing the property market, with occupiers increasingly requiring far more ‘intelligent buildings’ and a greater level of flexibility than the property industry has previously been known for.
We expect to see a growing trend for landlords needing to offer a more managed and serviced offering, so that their tenants can expand and contract depending on their business needs.
This is a challenge that the investor market has not yet fully grasped and will increasingly need to be incorporated into new-build and refurbishment projects.
The impact of Brexit is going to take time to come through and its impact on the North East property sector is yet to be really felt. The fact that Nissan has pledged further investment is huge for the region and helps to cement our outward looking, export-driven economy. Hitachi also coming on stream is a further boost of confidence; the challenge the industrial property market faces is having the confidence to build product to satisfy the demand.
The retail sector and the traditional high street is still, and will continue for some time, to be in transition. The impact of internet shopping is undoubted and whilst the larger retail centres have adapted to accommodate this with increased provision of food and beverage, the smaller centres are undoubtedly struggling.
1986 – Angus works in the property agency team at Sanderson Townend and Gilbert in Newcastle
1989 – Joins Sunderland-based Lofthouse and Partners
1993 – Appointed partner at Lofthouse and Partners
1996 – Angus sets up his own practice, ABW Associates, based in Newcastle
1998 – ABW Associates merges with Naylors chartered surveyors. Angus is appointed director and head of property and asset management
2000 – Naylors is incorporated and Angus becomes a director of the firm of Chartered Surveyors and Commercial Property Consultants
2006 – Angus moves to finance director
2013 – Appointed managing director. Angus delivers this role in addition to his responsibilities as head of asset management