Franchise firm Belvoir have announced that its founder Mike Goddard is stepping down after 24 years of service.
The remarkable Goddard founded what is now the largest property franchising group in the UK in 1995 with his wife Stephanie.
He had no previous property experience when he set up Belvoir, coming from a successful career in the RAF.
He has grown the firm organically, through the recruitment of new franchisees, and by acquisitions including that of Northwood. However, Belvoir’s attempt to take over arch rival The Property Franchise Group did not work out.
Goddard’s professional partnership with Dorian Gonsalves has proved outstandingly successful.
Gonsalves took over from Goddard as CEO in July 2010, with Goddard becoming chairman. The pair successfully saw Belvoir through its flotation.
Gonsalves briefly stood aside in March 2014 to make way for Carl Chadwick as new CEO. However, Chadwick quit after just two months, citing other business interests, and Goddard then became both chairman and CEO for a three-year period.
Goddard remained chief executive until 2017, making way for Dorian Gonsalves to become once again his successor. Since then, and until yesterday, Goddard has been chairman. Gonsalves remains firmly in place as CEO.
With Goddard’s retirement, his successor as Belvoir chairman has been named as industry veteran Michael Stoop, who ran Legal & General’s franchise organisation Xperience, now part of The Property Franchise Group.
Goddard sold over a million shares in Belvoir last December, raising £990,000. However, he still owns some 13% of the company’s stock.
As well as announcing Goddard’s retirement, Belvoir has reported a “robust” start to the year.
It said it has been outperforming the three key markets in which it operates – lettings, sales and financial services.
It has had a 6.3% growth in management service fees from lettings, with net income from financial services up 20%.
It remains strongly acquisitive via its assisted acquisitions programme, which helps its franchisees buy local competitors.
So far this year, six franchisees have utilised the programme, adding £1.2m of network revenue and nearly 800 managed properties. Over £2m worth of deals are currently with lawyers.
Gonsalves said: “The board is very encouraged by trading in Q1 with our franchise model proving that, even in a challenging year for the property market, it has the resilience to overcome and indeed benefit from changes in the sector.
“I have had the pleasure of working alongside Mike since 2005. Through his entrepreneurial spirit and his passion for franchising, Belvoir has become the largest property franchise group in the UK.
“I would like to express my personal and the board’s sincere gratitude for all that Mike has done and achieved as founder, CEO and chairman over the past 24 years.
“We welcome as chairman Michael Stoop, who has over 40 years’ experience of the property franchise sector and has already made a significant contribution since joining the board in March 2018.”
Equity researchers at bank Cantor Fitzgerald praised Belvoir for its “solid” start to the year, retaining its “buy” recommendation.
They said that Belvoir had a strong year last year, and that “pleasingly”, momentum had continued into this.