Estate agent Coulters and HBJ property arm to merge

Mark Coulter said the firm is seeking to treble its turnover following the merger. Picture: Mark K Jackson
Mark Coulter said the firm is seeking to treble its turnover following the merger. Picture: Mark K Jackson
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Edinburgh-based estate agent Coulters today announced that it is to merge with HBJ Property, a division of Scottish law firm HBJ Gateley, as it looks to become a national brand and more than treble its turnover.

The new business will trade under the Coulters name, and aims to double its head count to 25, with its legal team growing to ten as it looks to expand “quite aggressively” over the next six to eight years across Scotland and into the north of England.

Under the deal, which aims to “create a more compelling proposition across both residential and commercial markets”, HBJ is to become a majority shareholder in Coulters, which has two branches in the Scottish capital.

Mark Coulter, managing director of the latter business, told The Scotsman that the group, which launched in August 2013, is set to achieve turnover of £600,000 this year and aims to take this over the £2m mark within 18 months to two years.

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On the reasons for the merger, he said: “In terms of statistics, we’ve done very well in shaking the market up, but ultimately what we realised is to be a strong entity you need critical mass.”

Coulter said the firm felt the legal part of its business “wasn’t as strong as we felt it should be”, while Malcolm McPherson, senior partner at HBJ Gateley, said HBJ Property was limited in achieving its growth aims as a division of the law firm.

McPherson said there was a “strong and mutually-beneficial synergy” with Coulters, which was a “natural fit” for HBJ Property. He added: “We’re putting a very long-established and high-quality client base into a business that we see has got a future in terms of bringing a more dynamic selling process.”

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McPherson also said that having HBJ behind Coulters would enable the estate agent to invest “probably more quickly than it could otherwise”.

Coulters plans to open a further six estate agent offices, working with a centralised legal hub based out of Edinburgh, and with potential locations including East Lothian, Dundee and Newcastle.

The merger is set to enable it to at least double the number of legal and sales transactions it handles every month.

“We’d like to take the traditions of Coulters combined with the excellent practice of HBJ Property,” Coulter said, adding that further mergers had not been ruled out.

“We are excited about the opportunities available to us,” he said.