Viewpoint: Neil Hart

December 7, 2018

Chris Dobson, North East Times’ commercial property writer, talks with Neil Hart, group managing director of Bradley Hall, the regional chartered surveyors and estate agents, which concludes its 30th anniversary this year

1988, the year Bradley Hall was founded, was one year after the formation of the Tyne & Wear Development Corporation (T&WDC) and the same year as the Northern Development Company.

These were pivotal times. Was this thebackground that fired up the establishmentof Bradley Hall?
The original launch of the T&WDC and its footprint for regeneration across many parts of our region may well have been a catalyst. However, I would say that Bradley Hall as weknow it now was really fired up in the early noughties. Since its initial launch in 1988, the company has evolved from a two-person operation to employing more than 50 people. We’ve created a dynamic full-service property firm which is nimble enough to change and evolve even throughout previously difficult recessionary times. We now have a fresh and successful approach to business, so it is fair to say that the motivation behind the firm back in 1988 doesn’t reflect what drives us now.

Who leads the company?

My fellow directors and I lead the company. Peter Bartley and I have both established our careers within Bradley Hall and have been with the company almost 20 and 25 years respectively, while directors Richard Rafique and Geoff Davis both come from a client-side background.

What legacy was left for today’s management team to build upon to form the business as it is today?
Bradley Hall is a very different business from what it once was, so we almost instantly recreated that legacy to support the growth we had planned. In this process there is a time when ‘small’ has to become ‘bigger’ to thrive – and today’s Bradley Hall has certainly achieved that, and more, in the past few years.

The firm is growing with us and we are moving away from being a commercial and residential property agency to a firm which can support clients with a range of property and finance-related services. We are always looking at the bigger picture and encouraging activity not just for the clients and our business, but the region’s economy.

You were appointed managing director in 2015 and have been the catalyst for the growth of the business. What sort of business was it just three years ago compared to what it is today?

That’s nice of you to say, but it’s far from just me. The current management team, which I appointed, has been key to the success of the business. When each member was appointed, we made a business plan, and everyone has exceeded that plan. They wholly bought into the growth and commitment mindset. This business is built on people and this team is delivering with real determination. Although I have been MD for three years, I have been with the business since 2000, when I was a graduate. Back in 2005, the business was a two-office operation, consisting of Durham and Sandyford. I launched a new Gosforth operation in 2005 and Grey Street,Newcastle, in 2011. We completed the move to Hood Street in 2016 so we could occupy bigger offices to accommodate our growing team. During all this activity, we also opened four other offices while further growing our operations and presence in Durham.

What is the geographical structure of the offices?
We are centred on our head office in Newcastle and our other offices include Gosforth, Durham City, Alnwick, Morpeth, Sunderland and our new office in Hexham. This gives us the geographical cover required and an understanding of the subtle differences in markets, say comparing Alnwick with Durham City. Sunderland was
opened in 2017 and shows to us how important it is to have representation in locations where the markets are responding to the initiatives being brought forward by the City Council via projects such as Vaux.

Any visionary thoughts on the future of Bradley Hall?
There is much on the horizon. The business issound, and we are proud of our great team. There are some obvious ‘unknowns’ in regard to Brexit, which will no doubt impact both the private and public sectors. Despite thisupcoming uncertainty, we can say that we have thrived, grown and overcome many economic hurdles, which have often destroyed other businesses in the region. Our strength and resilience will no doubt continue as we look to continue growing and providing the best full- service practice in the region.

Bradley Hall