Showhouse Magazine - KEVII Estate - 17 April 2015
As reigning WhatHouse? Awards’ Housebuilder of the Year, City & Country exemplifies a passion to be the best and it has paid off for the niche developer.
“It’s easy for us to say we do a good job ultimately a third-party endorsement holds more credibility. It adds value to our track record, “says Helen Moore, managing director of City & Country.
“The awards are highly regarded by the industry, and are always very competitive, featuring the highest quality house builders, architects and designers. The third-party endorsement that awards provide is vital to the corporate reputation of our company and the event itself is always excellently organised and very good fun.”
“On a personal level you can’t help but feel genuinely proud that you’re involved in the business but you also know that it’s meant so much for the team. It’s made them feel part of a great organisation.
“The House builder of the Year award, the biggest prize in the new homes industry, was a phenomenal achievement for the business, bearing in mind we are really a small, niche developer. Yes we’re growing rapidly but to think that the previous year it was won by the Berkeley Group. We have actually set out business out in such a way that people can recognise that it is quite special in its own way and what we do is worthy of that type of recognition.”
“My financial director Mark Fowler and I have both been in the industry many years and both of us were asked recently what was one of the most special moments and we both said ‘winning House builder of the Year’.”
Winning coveted Whathouse? Awards has benefited the organisation in many diverse ways, both internally and externally, as Moore explains: “We all know that attracting fantastic team members is the real challenge and that by winning accolades such as Whathouse? Awards we are raising our profile and people can see that our business is really something quite different and unique.”
“People are therefore more likely to be interested in at least finding out more about us because we’re not one of the large house builders that people might automatically think of.”
“We specialise in a niche area of housebuilding and have assembled a fantastic team of highly skilled property professionals who share the company’s values and vision. Across our developments the original buildings are at the heart of what we do; they are the real stars and it is our task to reveal them once more and ensure they are secured for generations to come.
“The expert restoration and conversion skills required means that many our projects are incredibly challenging, but the results are remarkable. It is then also imperative to match, and exceed, the exacting standards expected of homeowners today.”
At the official launch of City * Country’s latest scheme, King Edward VII Estate, which lies within the South Downs National Park near Midhurst in West Sussex, George Clarke architect, television presenter and City & Country ambassador, was quick to highlight the skills required to restore exceptional building of calibre.
“A successful restoration has to be sympathetic; it requires an understanding of the fabric of the original building. City & Country does a huge amount of research and takes it to the next level with no compromise for the long term. A lot of background work means it may hold a site for several years before starting on-site,” says Clarke. “It’s about going that extra mile and the awards follow. It’s always nice to get awards and be judged by the quality of the buildings.”
As lead developer at King Edward VII Estate, where the centrepiece is a Grade II* listed building dating back just over a century, City & Country is working in partnership with two other Whathouse? Award winning companies, Millgate and CALA Homes, which are building complementary ranges of new homes in the acres of grounds.
CALA now has numerous projects planned with City & Country following the success of their partnership at King Edward VII Estate.
Millgate has already achieved sales on two of their eight substantial five bedroom detached houses where teamwork adds the finishing touch, says Matthew Brazier, senior sales manager: “On the day before a launch, everyone heads out on-site and we all muck in and help, including all the directors.”
“Awards are about capturing that essence of Millgate and it’s amazing for morale. We have a passion for our homes. They are not just plots. The Whathouse? Awards are a benchmark for us, not only to promote our brand, but to show what we do well or could do better, so we keep pushing the boundaries to keep improving the product for our customers.”
The presentation of the Whathouse? Awards in November captures the focus of the Millgate team. “It’s like the Oscars, with staff back at the office waiting to hear how we do,” says Brazier.
“So much effort goes into the homes, from the part-time admin to the chairman, so when we win, we can all think ‘I was part of that’.”
By lending weight to the sales efforts, an award win becomes a valuable marketing tool. City & Country make sure its Housebuilder of the Year award is highly visible in marketing literature, from press releases through to individual email signatures.
“It’s great for our team to come to launch events, to see and hear all the comments made by people,” says Helen Moore. “ But actually to win an award that they can point to and say ‘I was involved in that project’ and see it’s been held up as an exemplar of the type of work we do. That really does give people an even greater sense of pride.
“I also think awards help drive up standards. One of the challenges of working at City & Country is that we are never genuinely satisfied – not that we are no grateful for what we achieve and what the team achieves, but there’s always more you can do.
“I’ve said with being Whathouse House builder of the Year comes a responsibility – we have to live up to that name and we have to think how can we be even better. Because frankly I am not happy with winning it once. I want to seek to improve even further and win it again.”
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