New looks for North East agencies

Consolidation in real estate dealing has brought big changes to a North East property business. Niche consultancy Edward Symmons, has acquired Storeys:ssp Ltd. And DTZ is now part of Australian support services group UGL. Symmons chairman Paul Proctor says Storeys:ssp now gives expert exposure and coverage within the North East as part of the firm’s national development ambition.

Consolidation in real estate dealing has brought big changes to a North East property business. Niche consultancy Edward Symmons, has acquired Storeys:ssp Ltd. And DTZ is now part of Australian support services group UGL.

Symmons chairman Paul Proctor says Storeys:ssp now gives expert exposure and coverage within the North East as part of the firm’s national development ambition. “The North East agency team’s strength is well known,” he added.

The addition of Storeys:ssp’s 71-strong team has taken Symmons’ staff total up to 285 in all. The firm’s £17m turnover compares with Storeys:ssp’s £4m. Founded in Newcastle in 1891, and operating from a network of five regional offices, Storeys:ssp has long been regarded as a leading independent.

Some of the staff are moving to the buyer’s offices in Leeds, Manchester and London. Storeys:ssp’s existing Tyneside and Teesside offices remain the dominant regional offer, employing 59 staff.

The North East operation is now trading as Storeys Edward Symmons (forming part of the Edward Symmons Group).

Bill Lynn, chief executive of Storeys:ssp says: “We see this as the start of an exciting new era.” DTZ, whose roots go back to Birmingham in 1784, was the first property agent to list on the London Stock Exchange, in 1987.

It was first also to move into China. But parent company DTZ Holdings was recently put into administration and delisted. Trading entities were immediately sold to UGL and DTZ’s 4,700 staff transferred in return for UGL repaying £77.5m of DTZ’s £106m of debt to Royal Bank of Scotland.

Shareholders, including 175 present DTZ staff, were to receive nothing, whereas five years ago DTZ was worth nearly £500m. But jobs have been saved and DTZ chief executive John Forrester thinks DTZ and UGL an “exceptional fit”. DTZ hit problems just before the recession, following a spending spree to buy Rockwood in the US and retail agent Donaldsons. Recovery looked possible at first...