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Big Interview: Patrick Downes, Bruton Knowles. Positive outlook in time of big change

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Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 16 December 2015 8:22

Big Interview: Patrick Downes, Bruton Knowles. Positive outlook in time of big change

When the recession hit, property firms felt the full force of a caustic wind. Flesh fell off the bone testing the business plans underneath.

It wasn’t pleasant, but lucky for Bruton Knowles its managing partner Patrick Downes thrives on challenge and change.

As the wind blew hard it revealed to him what he had long suspected – the national property consultancy he heads up is built on an incredible partnership whose foundation is the very best people in their fields.

He has seen the business grow from the ground up and out of Gloucestershire to become a national network of offices.

Post-recession Bruton Knowles is standing firm and revealing a hunger for growth.

Mr Downes said: “During the last recession like many businesses our turnover declined significantly over night which at the time was quite ominous.

“By refining and then redefining our focus for growth we are now just short of doubling our turnover today since the recession.

“Our corporate plan is to do that again by 2020.”

He added: ”As they say, if you are not growing you are in reality probably in decline”

All of which is delivered with the calm reassurance of someone who has the confidence in the business plan and the team and knows – and is even thrilled by – the idea of all the hard work it will take on behalf of clients to get them there.

“I am someone who thrives on change. I love it,” said the managing partner, father-of-three and non-executive director for Gloucestershire for the Three Counties Agricultural Society.

“I recently realised that I reached my 29-year anniversary working at Bruton Knowles.

“And on the one hand it certainly seems like yesterday that I started bit on the other hand I realised what an incredibly different place it is to work out now.”

Quite simply it is not the same business he joined all those years ago as a young man fresh out of what was then Cirencester Agricultural College, now the Royal Agricultural University.

“Back then we were solely in Gloucestershire, I think we had seven offices. We now have our head office in Gloucester and 12 other offices.

“I don’t like saying 13 offices,” he jokes, not wishing to be the first person who puts a jinx on the business’s 150-plus years of history.

His own specialism turned out to be CPO and utility work and in this he saw great potential for the firm’s growth.

“I just wanted to go further afield. It wasn’t about not wishing to be loyal to Gloucestershire, it was about being able to take what we had in Gloucestershire to where new business was. It was exciting.

“So the ambition was there early on. It was back in the early 1990s when we were successful in winning a large contract in the East Midlands we opened a Nottingham office and the business also opened offices in Aylesbury, Leatherhead and Cardiff off the back of similar size contract wins.

“During the last six years we have opened four new offices – Plymouth, Bristol, Shrewsbury and Leeds. All for totally different reasons. They will now become great drivers of growth for us.”

Patrick is a natural leader and strong communicator with a proven track in establishing new offices and teams.

“We have other offices too in North Yorkshire and Manchester but all of the business is focussed on growth,” he explained.

“I can also see us needing more office space in Gloucester in the next few years”.

“It will create jobs – locally and nationally – which can only be positive.”

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