192-year-old property firm restructures for ‘accelerated growth’

Cheffins embarks on a five-year plan

Long-playing Cambridgeshire auction house and property firm Cheffins has started the new year with a pretty comprehensive overhaul of its business, announcing a “new corporate framework” with designs on faster growth and “long-term leadership”.

The firm, which is closing in on two centuries in business, will be intensifying its focus on the estate agency, rural consultancy, commercial property and machinery sectors with a new five-year plan. This plan “includes a number of major strategic choices around growth, profitability and efficiency, whilst maintaining [Cheffins’] core values of customer service, loyalty and integrity at the forefront of any changes.”

Beyond the management speak, quite a few roles and positions within the company have been rejigged:  William King stays on as Chairman, but Simon Gooderham and Philip Woolner have been announced as joint Managing Partners, with each concentrating on different areas of the business.

Divisional directorships have also moved around a bit: Mark Peck is now head of the Residential Department; Jonathan Stiff leads the Rural Professional Department; Philip Woolner is continuing to lead the Commercial Property team; Bill Pepper is heading up the Machinery Department whilst Jonathan Law continues in his role of head of Fine Art.

A batch of promotions completes the new year overhaul, including Ben De’Ath, Edward Barker and Christina Harris being promoted to Associate, and Ian Kitson moving up to Departmental Director.

William King, Chairman of Cheffins: “No one could have predicted the year we saw in 2016. With a new prime minister, the Brexit vote and Trump’s election, to say that there are challenges ahead would be an understatement. However, against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty, each department at Cheffins has risen to the challenge and has seen some notable achievements throughout the year. To name but a few, estate agents in our residential offices continue to be market leaders in each of the towns and cities in which we operate; the commercial property team has grown in strength and reputation; the planning team is leading some of the largest developments in the region and our rural team have sold more farms in 2016 than it has seen for many years, despite a land market which is stalling following the Brexit vote. With industry-leading talent driving the core of our business and creating further separation from our competitors, it is triumphs such as these which are keeping Cheffins at the forefront of the market.

“In reality, Brexit has brought both its challenges and its opportunities. Whilst it has caused an element of uncertainty in the residential and commercial property sides of the business, we have been relatively unaffected due to the strength of the Cambridgeshire region and have spent time reassuring clients of the resilience of the property market. Conversely, Brexit has it has actually been profitable for the machinery and fine art departments. The fall in sterling has led to an increase in sales for both of these areas of the business, with dealers, exporters, collectors and end users looking to make the most of relative savings to be made on purchases. Both Fine Art and Machinery are the global side of the business and this has been an opportunity which our auctioneers have capitalised on with record sales following the EU Referendum.

“Cheffins has always had the ability to face challenges head on, whatever the political or economic landscape. I am pleased to say that the new strategic framework which has been put into place will allow us to continue to expand the business and to ensure we are in the position to adapt expeditiously and efficiently to the challenges which will no doubt come our way. However, as one of the most established businesses in the region, the power of the brand and the strength and momentum of the business gives us confidence in our ability to capture and harness the opportunities ahead.”