London, UK - Wednesday, 27 May 2020
We are now two months into an unprecedented shut down of the UK economy and there is, I believe, light at the end of the tunnel, although given what we have been through, I fear this may be an express train hurtling towards us. Leadership from our Government is required, and I believe that sooner or later this will result in a divergence from heavy reliance on medical modelling to the economic science of rebuilding our economy.
We have, over the past 5 years, invested heavily in technology and this has proven a godsend as we have been able to continue our business. The residential management team, led by Fiona Docherty, remarkably, have been able to take over the management of a block in North London comprising over 500 units and several commercial units, along with another 100 units in two other blocks during COVID 19, with positive feedback from the residents and client. They are also busy mobilising on several new sites which are due to complete in the next few months. Our commercial management team have also worked tirelessly to provide safe working environments for tenants, staff, and visitors to their buildings.
In the City, with their usual tenacity, the team led by Lisa Moran have pushed two sales through to exchange and we anticipate completion of these deals during June. In the West End office, we have a significant number of schemes in lawyers’ hands and the team have been working hard to keep the transactions on track. The asset managers have also had some success with several large lease re-gears close to completion and others well advanced. Theirs has perhaps been the biggest challenge, managing the expectations of clients, both landlords and tenants, with the economic and contractual realities. I am told they and the management teams who are attempting to interpret and implement some generalised government guidance to facilitate the re-occupation of buildings, have never been busier.
The team at James Andrew International have taken inspiration from our clients, who have over the past eight weeks shown remarkable resilience, innovation, and leadership in adapting their businesses and developing their plans for the future. We have had to go 100% digital and on the whole, work remotely. Subject to Government guidance and our landlords permitting, we intend to re-open our offices from 1 June. Our acquisitions team have commenced viewing on behalf of clients and the lettings team are ready to do the same once demand rises. In the meantime, the teams have had digital tours filmed, where permitted, and these will become available on our website.
It is our intention to move back to our normal operating practices as soon as possible, allowing for social distancing and other guidance, but my priority as Chairman of the James Andrew Group is the health and wellbeing of all my colleagues, clients, and friends.
On behalf of the directors and staff at James Andrew International, we wish you all the best and hope that you, your family and friends stay healthy and safe.
Harvey M. Soning FRICS