16th March 2021
Just 12 month’s ago, two Stockport heavyweights in the commercial property arena were celebrating a new partnership and an exciting future as 40 years’ worth of experience came under one roof.
7 days later on March 23rd the country was plunged into complete lockdown; not quite the meteoric start to new beginnings that David Buckley of Buckley Commercial Estate agency and Nigel Blyth, managing director of property management company Fairhurst Estates had envisaged (pictured L to R at the announcement of the merger last year ahead of Covid-19 restrictions).
As the country prepares for a National Day of reflection, Nigel reflects on the company’s first 12 months as Fairhurst Buckley:
“On the 16th March 2020 Fairhurst Estates and Buckley Commercial merged to create the largest independent surveying practice in Stockport. That same week we were about to host the third of the hugely popular Stockport Professionals in Property Social Evenings arranged at the Produce Hall in Stockport where over 100 property and business professionals were scheduled to meet for an informal social evening.
“On Monday 23rd March 2020, the country was locked down and the business world was catapulted into one of the most turbulent trading periods we have ever experienced. This was not the start to the new merged practice that we had anticipated and like us all – we have found that our business, social and family lives have been transformed in ways we never would have thought possible. Business tools such as Zoom and Teams were things that we had barely heard of yet have become central to our lives and lines between home and the workplace have become fuzzy at best.
“But it hasn’t been all doom and gloom. Over the past 12 months we have taken away some positives. The Stockport Business Community (and our wider client base) has shown a remarkable resilience throughout these incredibly challenging times and we have been amazed by just how much activity has taken place throughout the whole period of intermittent lockdowns. Our viewing diaries for commercial property for most parts of the year have never been busier and we have continued to transact business and complete sales and lettings throughout.
“Some sectors have fared better than others although we have had significant success selling and letting offices and small retail premises (particularly those benefitting from Small Business Rates Relief) and we could let small industrial premises 10 times over if we had any available stock – the industrial market is truly flying!
“In context, we have huge empathy for those having a torrid time such as High Street retailers in the Towns and Cities, City Centre Offices and the Entertainment and Arts industries that in many cases are still waiting to find out when, and if, they can have any semblance of being able to trade ‘normally’.
“We have been helping our clients react to the changing circumstances, assisting in delicate negotiations between landlords and tenants concerning rental payments, providing help and advice in relation to grant assistance and government aid and ensuring that our clients remain suitably protected through ongoing statutory compliance throughout their property networks – compliance with ever changing Health and Safety legislation is not affected by COVID-19.”
Last November, in defiance of the pandemic and in line with Fairhurst Buckley’s growth strategy, Fairhurst Buckley appointed a new Head of Building Consultancy. John MacMillan, a Chartered Building Surveyor and Dilapidation’s specialist with 20 years’ experience in commercial property, joined from Rapleys having held senior positions at national practices including Gerald Eve LLP, RLB, Faithful & Gould, and leading northern practice Anderton Gables.
Nigel Blyth continued:
“Despite the challenges presented by Covid restrictions, work and projects within our industry has continued to flow: our Building Team inspected and prepared Schedules of Condition and Dilapidations Assessments for a portfolio of 25 Household Waste Recycling Centres managing to inspect and fully report on the full portfolio within 1 month in very demanding circumstances ensuring that all work was carried out under COVID secure conditions. We also continue to carry out Home Buyers Reports in a Housing Market that is showing no immediate signs of slowing down.
“In between we managed to have an ISO 9001:2015 Audit via Zoom (!) which we passed with flying colours and our key staff have been taking and passing examinations throughout as we continue to support and nurture our dedicated team as much as possible throughout these strange dystopian times.
“Our story one year on is therefore of cautious optimism. The Business Community has shown adaptability, strength, gritty determination, and true entrepreneurialism in the face of significant economic, social and mental adversity.
“We are embedded deep in the heart of Stockport and we can see the tireless work of our clients, our tenants, local businesses, our fellow professionals, our families and our staff to keep going and to help us all emerge from this crisis as positively as we can and rebuild any damage. We must take the positives out of the new working practices that have evolved throughout the lockdown to make us more efficient and agile to adapt to ever-changing circumstances and we must remain positive about the future.
“Here at Fairhurst Buckley are truly excited about the ever-changing Stockport landscape and the improvements and developments that continue to put Stockport on the map as a growth area with significant investment potential for both UK and overseas investors. We are here to help, support and promote this growth.
“We also cannot wait for the pubs to open!”