Watkin Jones has announced the appointment of a new chief executive and has unveiled details of a £68.5m build-to-rent development.
Richard Simpson (pictured) has been hired to lead the business following Mark Watkin Jones’ decision to leave, announced in January this year.
Mr Watkin Jones’ departure sees the business pass from the direct control of its founding family for the first time, having been created more that 200 years ago in Bangor, Wales.
The firm, which specialises in student accommodation, has poached replacement Mr Simpson from rival Unite Group, where he was group property director.
Mr Simpson will join Watkin Jones on 2 January next year having been placed on immediate gardening leave by Unite, which promoted company property director Nick Hayes to replace him at group level.
It a statement to the market, Watkin Jones said Mr Watkin Jones had reiterated his commitment to serving as CEO for as long as was needed.
Watkin Jones chairman Grenville Turner said: “[Mr Simpson] is well known to the Watkin Jones board having worked closely with the business on several occasions.
“We look forward to a long and prosperous period with Richard at the helm of what is a growing business.”
The firm also announced it had agreed a development arrangement with M&G Real Estate and Lochailort for a 315-apartment build-to-rent project in Reading.
Watkin Jones said its funding deal with M&G will see it receive £68.5m for the development works.
The company confirmed that construction would begin immediately with target completion date of 2021.
Commenting on the deal, Mr Watkin Jones said: “The development agreement for the Reading scheme replicates the delivery elements of our student accommodation model and, alongside the excellent visibility in our student accommodation development business, reinforces our confidence in our business model and the markets in which we operate.”