Hunters, currently the sixth largest UK’s estate agency group, yesterday announced it is looking to float on the Alternative Investment Market this year – with the aim of expanding the network to over 500 offices in five years’ time.
It also announced the appointment of industry legend Harry Hill as its new Chief Executive Officer and revealed plans to expand into Europe.
Hunters will aim to raise funds privately on a pre-IPO (Initial Public Offering) basis by inviting investors, including both staff and partners, to buy shares.
Hunters is looking to raise up to £2.5m of new equity to enable it to accelerate further growth.
Hunters opened its first branch 22 years ago in York, the brainchild of brothers Kevin and Keith Hollinrake.
The network is now mainly franchised and has 128 branches nationwide in key cities across the UK including London, Birmingham, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Middlesbrough and Liverpool.
Last year Hunters opened 31 branches and increased overall income by over 40%.
In preparation for the flotation, a restructuring of the board is taking place.
Current managing director Kevin Hollinrake, who is likely to become a Conservative MP in May, is to become chairman.
Glynis Frew, currently operations director, takes over as managing director, and Harry Hill, currently a non-executive director and who is former CEO of Countrywide, becomes CEO.
He will principally be tasked with the responsibility of guiding Hunters through the flotation process and helping the company adjust to public ownership.
Martin Robinson’s role now formally expands to national sales director; co-founder John Waterhouse remains as president; Ed Jones, finance director, will take responsibility as CFO. Combined, the board has over 100 years’ experience in the industry.
Alongside Hollinrake and Waterhouse, both Frew and Waterhouse have worked with Hunters for over 15 years.
Hollinrake said: “This is an exciting time for us as we continue to drive forward our growth initiatives for expansion and to ultimately achieve being the UK’s favourite estate agency.
“With access to further capital, we see significant opportunity to increase our penetration in the UK, strengthen our position as one of the leading UK estate agency brands and open further branches in continental Europe.”
Frew said: “I am proud of what we have achieved at Hunters since 1992 and excited about what the future holds.
“The group has a compelling business model, clear growth prospects, and a very strong board who will retain full control and majority shareholding, together with well-trained and motivated employees.
“We hope this will give our staff and trading partners the ability to be involved and invest in the future of the business.”