It’s the first working day at our new South Kensington office, so I arrive at 90 Old Brompton Road at 7.35am to ensure I’m the first in to welcome my new team. Colleagues from our six neighbouring prime central London offices are also arriving early for the inaugural ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Fortunately, it’s a sunny morning, so we have estate agents-turned-photographers at the ready. The spotlight is on us and the new South Kensington team is all smiles.
The working part of my day starts with meeting a local buying agent who has a client from Kuwait in London for a few days looking to purchase a pied-à-terre for her sons. She leaves on Friday morning so I have a few days to find something. We start with a few viewings in South Kensington and Earl’s Court.
The lettings team is put to work with their first walk-in client enquiry. He views a few properties nearby with my colleagues. A fabulous first-floor flat with a terrace in Onslow Square catches his attention and before the end of the day he’s back for a revisit.
A colleague from our Cadogan Street office introduces me to a long-standing contact who is searching in Chelsea and South Kensington for a two-bedroom investment property. She’s only in London for the day so after a few phone calls we are on a whirlwind tour of the local postcodes trying to secure “the one”.
I manage to get them access to a lovely split-level first-floor apartment in SW7 via the client, who happens to be in London. It’s well-received by the would-be buyer, who has just missed out on something in a nearby garden square. Later in the day I get a call saying she is prepared to make a cash offer at the asking price.
It’s our official South Kensington launch party. This evening 145 guests including previous and existing clients, landlords, developers, surveyors and solicitors descend upon our new hot-desking abode.
The event is supported by Chase Distillery, and our visitors are treated to cocktails and gin and tonic, while being able to network and mingle with friends and colleagues.
After a short office tour with the air con whirring full blast, our guests are invited to Christie’s Auction House opposite, where we are honoured to be hosting a drinks and canapés reception at the much-talked-about Ben Uri exhibition. We are announced as residential agency of the year as well as affiliate of the year with Christie’s International Real Estate. Something tells me tonight’s going to be a late one.
Our marketing team is hosting a street art campaign near the local Tube station which depicts a Tyrannosaurus rex bursting through the South Kensington skyline. To the naked eye it’s a painting on the pavement, but through the camera lens the dinosaur appears in 3D.
It attracts a lot of attention throughout the afternoon and Twitter is set alight with #dinoselfies as locals and passers-by get involved to win a hamper for the best picture.
I have been invited to a lunch at our head office in Mayfair to host some of our high-end sales agency Christie’s affiliates based in the South of France.
We eat a delicious French-style lunch — three courses plus cheese and coffee — before discussing the best way forward for us to work together in order to do more business, especially as we are respective affiliates of Christie’s International Real Estate between the UK and France.
- James Boulton-Lea is head of theSouth Kensington office of Strutt & Parker (020 3794 0747).