There is a new kid on the block in Manchester and he is on a mission to “celebrate the city’s industrial heritage” and make renting “cooler” for the new generation of tech-savvy urbanites.
Adam Kamani, co-founder of online fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing, and part of the family behind Boohoo.com, became chief executive of the family’s lesser-known company, the Kamani Property Group, two years ago. Now he is looking to breathe life into the commercial portfolio of largely unused buildings acquired by the family over the past 30 years.
The plan is to redevelop them as apartments for rent and offices, and with a pipeline of nearly 40 properties, Kamani already has a head start on other new developers in the city. But how does he plan to stand out from the Manchester crowd?
While other developers are building ever-smaller apartments, Kamani says he is keen to reverse the trend by offering spacious apartments via a new digital property management platform, which is still in development.
Bigger and better
“Most developers try and squeeze as many apartments as possible out of a building to maximise profits,” he reasons. “If you look around Manchester’s apartments, they’re all pretty small, cramped and sometimes not great quality. We are designing our apartments to be bigger and better value.”
One of several city-centre projects under way is a conversion of one of the Kamani family’s existing properties, a former nightclub and disused office building on Chorlton Street, into 10 apartments. The idea is to keep the industrial feel of the building in celebration of the city’s heritage.
Kamani’s plan is to rent the homes out and he argues that by offering tenants more space the company will create customer satisfaction, which in turn will encourage them to stay for longer-than-average periods of time.
Technology will be another key differentiator, he says, citing the intended launch later this year of an online property management company, which he claims will shake up the market.
“Property is seen as very old school; quite boring in all respects. Millennials are tech driven,” he says. “They have been brought up in a different era and have a different way of thinking. We need to adapt to that and change the service we offer so it is simplified and can be used online.”
Kamani’s immediate goal is to concentrate on Chorlton Street and the three other projects he has under way in Manchester: the development of a 30,000 sq ft new-build office scheme on Dale Street; conversion of the Grand Hotel basement on Aytoun Street into event space; and a retail-to-residential conversion on School Lane in Didsbury that will create 14 apartments.
He adds that it won’t be very long before he begins building up the family’s presence in London, too, but for the time being he is sticking to his Manchester roots.