Hilary James, Pipers & Mere Property

Hilary James, one of four co-directors of a newly-formed Wirral business called Pipers & Mere Property. I am the Marketing Director, my husband (Graham James) is the Finance Director, Amy Goodman is the Creative Director and her husband Marc Goodman is Operations Director.

Tell us about your company?

The company was formed in 2018, we are two couples who met at the school gate, Thornton Hough Primary School to be precise, and we have a mutual love of the Wirral and all things Property. My husband and I were already experienced Landlords and Amy and Marc had developed and ‘flipped’ quite a few properties thanks to Marc’s commercial nous and Amy’s brilliant staging. We came together to build a business which would provide the very best in Rental and Serviced Accommodation property to Wirral tenants and guests. 

At the moment there are four of us (and our kids who are forced into hard labour from time to time, stripping wallpaper etc) which works well as both Marc and I run other businesses in the Merseyside area and Graham and Amy are stay-at-home parents who wanted to develop their skills in an environment where they could still do the school ‘collects’ and ‘dropoffs’. We will look to add to our team once we have scaled the business.

Where do you want the organisation to be in two years’ time?

Our aspiration is that Pipers & Mere Property brings truly beautiful property to the market, both in the private rental and hospitality (Serviced Accommodation) sectors. We intend to double in size in the next 6 months and then seek external investment to support our growth strategy.

If you could suggest one thing to Government to help business or your organisation growth - what would it be?

Sort out BREXIT!! This ‘pause button’ approach is stifling consumer demand and making sources of finance hard to attract. People are holding on to their cash in every context.

What are your Unique Selling Points?

Pipers&Mere Property offer the very best in Private Sector Rental Accommodation and Serviced Apartments to visitors to our lovely peninsular. When I say the very best I mean it! Here is a link to our stunning Hoylake property, ‘The Waves’ - there is very little like ‘The Waves’ on the Wirral, we know this because of our guest feedback and the fact that we are at over 70 percent occupancy. We also have a HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) in Wallasey.

The property was a complete ‘wreck’ when we took it on, but because it’s important to us to see and be part of the continued regeneration of this area we have turned the property into an exquisite 6 bed boutique-style HMO whilst retaining the all-important original features. We even use locally sourced Artwork by Nicky Perrin (of Wellington Road studios, she features every year on the Artist’s trail) See this link

What affect do you think Brexit will have on your business and the UK?

A no-deal Brexit will be a disaster. I am a staunch ‘remainer’, but really, we just need to get on with it, get a deal and get out so we can all get on with business.

Within your industry/sector do you currently face any challenges?

Increased competition, decreased availability of finance/investors  - Brexit is to blame for this in my view. Rogue Landlords and Property investors who give genuinely ‘decent’ property professionals a bad name.

Do you foresee and changes in the industry?

Yes and we look forward to change, it’s what keeps the wheels of our business turning. We are used to and ready for change, we want our tenants/guests/investors to challenge us with new demands, it will keep us in our toes and ensure that we stay ahead of the curve.

Do you foresee any opportunities?

Yes, there is a growing demand for better private sector accommodation and rightly so. Too long have shoddy landlords been able to get away with low standards simply because the tenants had few options. My sense is that the private rental sector will come to play an increasing role in the overall provision of housing in the UK. This will drive-up standards.  This suits us as our standards are very high indeed.

Equally, there is growing demand for Airbnb, short-stay type accommodation. Discerning travellers are not content to stay in ‘run-of-the-mill’ hotel rooms anymore, they want something beautiful, they want to see reviews and pictures and feel like they can book a home from home. Once again, this suits Pipers&Mere as we take on properties for the Serviced Accommodation part of our business that allow us to develop a very differentiated and stylish product.

What advice would you give yourself if you were starting out on a career today?

Ignore most people’s advice BUT get on with what you want to do and do it fast. Take action, fail fast, learn and take more action. Inertia is the enemy.

Your final words?

Blessed be the Wirral!

 

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