Since the 1970s the Ogden Group of Companies has been one of the most active developers in Yorkshire, delivering schemes across most commercial property sectors.
At the end of last year Ogden managing director Tim Garnett, who was with the company for 48 years, stepped down and his son Justin took up the mantle on 1 January 2018. Property Week caught up with the latter to find out his vision for the business.
How long have you worked for the company and was it always the plan for you to take the reins?
I started in 2006 after eight years in the JLL national investment team in Leeds. I had always envisaged ultimately moving to the client side, but not necessarily to the Ogden Group. An opportunity to set up a JV company with Sir Robert [Ogden] arose and from this I became increasingly involved in the main business. I don’t think it was always the plan for me to take the reins, although others may think differently.
Are you daunted by the prospect of stepping into your father’s shoes?
My father has spent 48 years with the company and has been involved in some very interesting sites, many of which we still own. His knowledge is invaluable to me and I am sure I will be seeking his thoughts and advice for many years to come. I wouldn’t say that I am daunted by the prospect of stepping into his shoes; more excited by the opportunities and challenges that are to come.
Do you intend to change the way the business operates?
There won’t be any significant changes. Our chairman, Sir Robert, is still very much involved in the business. He has always been opportunity-led rather than focusing on specific sectors and we have consequently developed offices, sheds, retail, leisure and residential. This approach has served the company well over the years and we will therefore continue in this manner. We have a great team of trusted advisers/consultants that works with us and knows the way we operate and what sort of deals interest us. We also have some very strong relationships with other developers and are always happy to look at JV opportunities.
What are you working on at the moment and what opportunities are you looking for?
We have just lodged an application for a 105,000 sq ft retail warehouse scheme at Birstall, at junction 27 of the M62, opposite Ikea and Birstall Shopping Park. This is adjacent to the Centre 27 mixed-use scheme that we have developed over the years, the last unit having been let to Smyths Toys last year. Junction 27 has been hugely successful as a retail and leisure destination and our proposal is really the last opportunity for further retail development. We also have a number of residential sites at various stages of the planning process that we are working on, some of which we have held long term and a couple acquired recently.
What are the main challenges you see in the months ahead?
The ongoing uncertainty around Brexit is clearly going to be a hindrance in some sectors of the market as occupiers delay decisions and consumer demand softens. Rising interest rates will likewise start to bite some. We are seeing more casualties in the retail and leisure sectors and this will undoubtedly continue in the coming months.
What does your father – who has reduced his working week to just two days – intend to do with all the extra time he has on his hands?
Spend even more time on holiday!
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Q&A: Justin Garnett of Ogden Group on stepping into his father’s shoes