Peter Horton, aged 40, now leads the Horton family as deputy chairman on the board of Birmingham-based Horton Estates.

Sixty-nine year-old Michael Horton stepped down as chairman in 2008 after seven years in the post and 44 years as a director.

He was succeeded by Richard Samuda – a non-family member – while Peter Horton is now the senior family member on the board.

One of Richard Samuda’s first announcements as chairman was good news for the Grand Hotel in Colmore Row, which has been largely empty and unloved for the last few years. It’s unlikely to remain as a hotel, but could find a new future as high quality office and retail space. Wise gearing has protected Hortons from the worst of the property downturn, though the value of assets is inevitably down. The company reported net assets of £150 million for the year ending September 2008, with increased pre-tax profits of £8.6 million – up from £7.5 million.

Hortons is stepping up its development activity while streamlining its investment portfolio. The last 12 months the company has let several of its city centre store units, let the final unit on its Hollymoor Point development at Birmingham Great Park, fully let Maddox House in Edmund Street and made progress with the development of prime industrial land in Coventry.

Michael Horton’s great, great grandfather Isaac - a pig farmer and butcher – began the company in 1871 when he acquired the Midland Hotel in Birmingham – now the Burlington – and set about developing it. He also built the Grand Hotel and by the time of his death in 1880 had established a substantial property business.

Since then the Colmore Row-based Hortons’ Estate has become one of the Midlands most prominent family-owned property companies.

Isaac is buried at Key Hill Cemetery in the Jewellery Quarter.

Hortons and its staff are supporters of a number of worthy causes. These include the County Air Ambulance Trust, Marie Curie Hospice in Solihull and the NSPCC, Horton’s corporate charity. The company is also a supporter of the arts and music and has sponsored a scholarship at the Elmhurst School of Dance in Edgbaston.