James Moody took on the managing director’s role at the newly reorganised Eastern region of housebuilder Crest Nicholson three months ago, and he had to hit the ground running. Not only is he managing existing sites – he also had to find himself an office
Hasn’t Crest Nicholson always had an Eastern region?
It has, but now that has been divided into two, with an Eastern region and a Chiltern region. It is part of a board strategy set out a year ago, under which Crest Nicholson is aiming to grow organically by building up its existing regions and then dividing them. This is the first region to be divided under that strategy.
So what are the territories of the two subdivided regions?
Chiltern covers Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and parts of Berkshire and Hertfordshire. My territory is everything east of the A10, with the north side of the Thames Gateway and the M11 corridor. It’s a great patch and a terrific opportunity.
How have you been able to get sites up and running already?
The new business has taken on a number of projects that were already in the pipeline. I’ve got a very live portfolio that needs quite a lot of work. The sites include Kings Warren near Newmarket, an existing site in Stowmarket, and a 70-unit site in Ilford. We also got consent earlier this month for a 400-unit site in Ipswich and are applying for planning on a 50-unit site in Chelmsford and the redevelopment of a gasworks site in Brentwood.
Have you got time to enjoy the job?
I get up in the morning with a smile on my face. It’s really exciting to be totally hands on, although I still don’t have a base yet. I’ve just found an office in Brentwood, and I’m recruiting so many staff I feel like a recruitment consultant.
So who’s on your team?
I’ve got John Todhunter, who was formerly with George Wimpey, as development director, and Helen Moore, who was formerly with Countryside Properties, as sales and marketing director. I’ve got a lot of local expertise in my team, and I’ve also promoted a lot from within.
What’s the game plan for the business?
I want to consolidate and settle the team over the next six months, and concentrate on our strategic sites. I’ll be looking for opportunities in areas like the M11 corridor and Chelmsford. I’ll also be looking at how our aspirations could marry up with those of the government in areas like Thurrock and Basildon. Wherever we are working, the key factor is to make sure that we are delivering at an affordable level.
What do you think will be your biggest challenge in your job?
The group spotlight is on us because the future strategy for Crest Nicholson rests on whether this business works. We’ll be aiming to position ourselves well in the market and differentiate ourselves on brand.