A Midlands development company has clinched a major joint venture as it looks to take advantage of the property downturn.
Maximus, headed by entrepreneur Dick Hickton, is linking up with Simon Corner, of Aequusland – formerly one of the key managers with Black Country developers Richardsons.
It comes as Maximus sees opportunities to push ahead as others batten down the hatches.
Managing director Paul Jones said: “We are seeing occupier demand holding up. While everyone else is downing tools we are still receiving inquiries and people want to do deals with us. We are committed to carrying on building and we are continuing to work with our strategic funding partners to resource projects.”
Admitting that the sector is facing challenging times, he added: “It is a difficult period for all of us. But at Maximus we stick to the property fundamentals, we have low gearing and because of that we are in an advantageous position set against the majority of our competitors.
“It enables us to be opportunistic.”
He described the joint venture with Simon Corner, who worked with what is now Richardsons Capital for 20 years, as a pivotal move.
“Simon is an established individual on the West Midland property scene. It is a natural fit for us in terms of our resources and leveraging off his experience.”
Mr Jones said the two businesses hoped within days to announce a £12.5 million scheme for a site beside one of the region’s motorway junctions.
“We will be specifically targeting opportunties arising from the current downturn,” he pledged.
Mr Hickton said it represented what was hoped to be the first of a series of exciting developments. He is one of the West Midlands’ most colourful entrepreneurs.
Oldbury-born, he is a surveyor who worked with Simon Corner at agents Grimley in the 1970s. He is also a chicken farmer producing 120,000 birds every 40 days for supermarket group Morrisons and comes from a family who still have a presence on Birmingham’s wholesale market.
He founded property group Barberry with Paul Watson, and then split off to launch Maximus – it now has a £100 million combined investment and development portfolio.
Maximus, based at Sinton Green, Worcestershire, developed the Worcester County Council site at Wildwood and is currently involved in a string of office sites.
Simon Corner, who decided to branch out on his own last year, said: “I have known Dick for a long time. I am delighted to work with him.”
The partnership gave each party “greater strength and confidence”.
Though the market is going through the most uncertain period for years, the Maximus-Aequus move is a sign of their confidence moving forward.
Maximus typically handles deals in the £3 million to £30 million range. It works across the board on office, industrial and retail.
Its portfolio includes office/restaurant scheme The Exchange in Newhall Street, Birmingham, warehouse and distribution project 3 Knightsbridge Park, Worcester, and offices at 85-89 Colmore Row, Birmingham.