LOMOND Capital, the fast-growing property management firm backed by City grandee Roger Lane-Smith, has made its first foray into selling homes by snapping up a Manchester estate agency that sells £250 million-worth of houses each year.
The acquisition of Thornley Groves, one of the largest estate agencies in the city, comes less than a year after Lomond bought lettings agency Penny Ashton, giving the Edinburgh-based firm a property portfolio worth £450m in the north of England. Throughout the UK, Lomond now manages more than £1.5 billion worth of property investments.
Stuart Pender, chief executive of Lomond Capital, said: “Manchester has a very attractive property market with the largest private rental sector outside London. It has been a key market for Lomond Capital for some time now. We have been looking for a high-quality and ambitious firm with a strong brand to be at the centre of our growth strategy in Manchester.
“We were delighted to secure the deal with Thornley Groves as they have an established brand with a reputation earned over more than 20 years. We will work with the existing owners to strengthen the market leading position.”
Michael Groves, the current chief executive of Thornley Groves, will become chairman of Lomond’s operations in Manchester, while Jason Watkin, Thornley Groves’ present operations director, will become its chief executive in the north of England.
Groves said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to grow our business across Manchester. It will enable us to embark on a period of expansion through acquiring other businesses and will allow us to offer other services to our existing customers. The deal will also help boost our growing estate agency business.”
Thornley Groves, which was founded in 1991, has eight offices and employs 80 staff.
Pender and Lane-Smith, a founder and former chairman of international law firm DLA Piper and ex-chairman of JJB Sports, set up Lomond Capital in 2010 with a £45m war chest to fund acquisitions.
Pender, who started his career as an actuary with Scottish Amicable, led the management buyout of insurance firm Paymentshield in 2004 with backing from Bank of Scotland, growing profits to £45m from £4m within four years.
Lomond built its Edinburgh operations through a series of takeovers – including Alba Residential, James Gibb Property Management and Woodstar Property Management – and now has more than 4,000 properties in the city. News of Lomond’s acquisition in Manchester comes a week after the firm named Ben Di Rollo, director of Shapes Property Auctions and captain of the first team at Watsonians rugby football club in Edinburgh, as its head of property management.
His appointment followed that of former Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre chief executive Malcolm Cannon to run its Edinburgh base.