The move comes just months after the company cemented its position in the Edinburgh market with the purchase of Woodstar Property Management, taking the number of homes it administers in the capital to 4,000.
Lomond said the “key appointment” was part of its strategy to provide a stronger proposition to meet the needs of existing and new landlords investing in the rapidly growing rental sector.
Chief executive Stuart Pender said: “We are particularly pleased to have attracted someone of Malcolm’s calibre to lead our flagship business in Edinburgh. He has a wealth of knowledge on the property market in Edinburgh from his time at ESPC and his business credentials are second to none.”
Lomond, set up in 2010 to drive consolidation in the UK lettings market, operates under three core brands in Edinburgh – Alba, Braemore & James Gibb.
It has earmarked about £45 million for the first phase of its strategy and has set about buying up lettings agencies in cities including Aberdeen, Glasgow and Manchester. It then plans to consolidate its acquisitions and grow organically as a dominant player in each market.
Pender says the property market is changing, “and will continue to change”. In response, Lomond is adapting its core private property rental business to provide what it calls “total property management”, offering a maintenance service, arranging insurance for both landlords and tenants, and even developing its own specialised buy-to-let mortgage broking capability.
“Our focus is on providing excellent customer service and helping our landlords develop significant value through returns on their property investments,” Pender said.
Lomond’s core business model is being developed in Edinburgh before being rolled out across the UK, initially to five other cities. The firm is set to enter the market in Leeds and Birmingham over the summer. The group’s director of integration and business transformation, Bryan Robertson, has been filling the role of Edinburgh chief executive on an interim basis, but will now lead the business transformation activities in other cities across the UK.
Cannon, who took the helm at the ESPC four years ago and dragged the then troubled group back to profit, said: “I have seen the progress Lomond has made already and been hugely impressed with their focus on quality and service. I look forward to helping them build further on their success in Edinburgh.”
ESPC, which is owned by its 170-member solicitor estate agents, has been profitable now for three years despite seeing the number of properties it marketed fall to less than half the 22,500 a year it offered at its peak.