There is a new new retail club in town and it’s called Select Property Group.
Former Marks & Spencer chairman Lord Stuart Rose has emerged as a surprise backer in the privately-owned developer, which operates a swathe of student housing and is about to launch its first block of serviced flats in Manchester.
He has invested an undisclosed sum in the company alongside Terry Green, the former boss of BHS and Debenhams who also had a stint as head of clothing at Tesco. Select said its retail-led approach to building strong consumer-facing property brands convinced the pair invest in the business.
They are not the first retail heavyweights to join the business. Former Matalan chief executive Angus Monro is chairman of Select and also introduced Lord Rose and Green to the team.
They also join Trevor Moore, former chief executive of Jessops who joined select as chief operating officer after an ill-fated spell at HMV at the time of its collapse.
Speaking to City A.M., Moore said retail experience was key to their strategy of creating brands consumers will remember. The company’s student properties, which comprise over 1,500 beds in cities across the UK, operate under the brand Vita Student. It has also launched a new service apartment brand called City Suites – the first of which will open next year in Manchester.
“Our projects need a huge amount of retail output and insight. It is about the creation of property concepts and bringing innovation and my job as a retailer is to really understand those concepts,” Moore said.
The company has other projects up its sleeves, some which may be more retail-focused. But for now Moore is not giving anything away.
Founded in 2004 by chief executive Mark Stott, Select Property develops schemes and creates brand before selling it onto an investor and running it on their behalf. It has so far completed 969 Vita Student units, with 366 due for completion in September for the 2015/2016 academic year.
Rose, who is no tranger to the sector having sat until recently on the board of Land Securities, said:
“Select’s unique approach to the property market makes the company a particularly interesting investment. While other providers focus on development, with the sales and operational activity often outsourced to third parties, Select’s control over the whole process allows it to manage every aspect of the investment lifecycle.
“The years I spent at the heart of retail means that I deeply appreciate the value of great customer service, and this is closely reflected in Select’s philosophy. This retail-led approach has enabled them to deliver an exceptional product in the student accommodation sector, a formula which I believe they will go on to replicate across multiple markets.”