Mashup
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Ups

 

Property options in East London (4.2 bagger and an infinite bagger)

In 2004, we acquired an option over a messy car storage lot in East London. Our initial application for a residential block of apartments was declined. We appealed and lost. In Jan 2006, we succeeded with our second planning application. We then sold the option in 2006 and generated a return of 4.2 times our investment. Separately, in 2007 we helped a property owner in East London to resolve some complicated financial issues. In return, they agreed to grant us an option to purchase their property for a fixed price. We then sold the option to a large UK housebuilder for an upfront payment of £500k. The return on our capital was infinite. The return was on our effort and ideas.

Off plan properties in East London (26 baggers within 12 months)

We queued-up overnight in sleeping bags to buy apartments off-plan in East London. We paid booking deposits of £1,000 each for the most attractively-priced units on a per square foot basis. A few months later, we exchanged contracts on the properties and sold them on for profit. We generated returns of circa 26 times our investment in less than a year.

 

Online retailing, Ireland (circa 6 bagger in 6 years)

In 2012, we acquired a substantial online retailing business in Ireland. Despite getting off to a horrible start (2012 to 2014 was absolutely horrendous), we managed to turn it around and grow it by 127% compared with 2012. Current valuations suggest that we have generated a return of over 6 times our initial capital over a period of 6 years.

Bespoke internet logistics, Ireland (circa 35 bagger in 5 years)

In 2013, we started a bespoke internet logistics business in Ireland. We provide stock storage, pick and pack, order processing, kitting and delivery services to a range of online retailers and product manufacturers. So far, based on the most recent funding round, we have generated a return of circa 35 times our original investment over the last 5 years. However, this return does not factor in the cost of all the blood, sweat and tears along the way.

 

Distressed investment property, Dublin (14 bagger in 4 years)

In 2014 we purchased a vacant investment property in Dublin from a distressed bank that was exiting the Irish market. The property is rented out and currently worth over 14 times what we paid for it.

Traditional retailing turnaround, Dublin (41 bagger in 7 years)

In 2010 we acquired a convenience retailing business in Dublin that was suffering severely from the downturn. We turned it around and back to profitability within 12 months. In 2016 we converted the property into a food retailing business. In 2017, we sold the business. Including profits over the years and the sale price, we generated 41 times our original equity investment.

 

Adding additional floors to apartment blocks in London (5-11 baggers)

In the 2000s, one of our favourite pastimes was acquiring freehold ground rents in London. We usually acquired them for less than £30k each. The rent generated from them was relatively low. But they were very safe and secure. The best thing about them is that they usually had the rights to light and air above the apartment blocks. We obtained planning consents to construct additional floors of apartments. Then we sold the properties, with the benefit of the planning consents. When we did this, we generated returns of 5-11 times our (ungeared) investment.

Traditional retailing turnaround, Dublin (infinite bagger as no consideration paid for business)

In 2015, we acquired a traditional retailing business in Dublin. The business was losing so much money that the owner did not require any consideration (other than for stock). As a result of employment law complications, the turnaround took 24 months, which was about twice as long as we were anticipating. We still own the business which is trading well and future prospects are very promising. The return on our financial capital is infinite. The real return is on our sweat and effort.

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Downs

 

Importing property into London

It was a decent concept. Find cheap property. Buy it. Then move it to London. To the most expensive area we could afford. And sell it for a profit.

We secured a moorings in Chelsea. Then bought a houseboat. However, rather than move the houseboat up by road, we made the mistake of trying to go by water. Disaster. Houseboat never reached Chelsea. It ended-up sinking in Essex in a storm. RIP Wahine

Starting-up a new food retailing business, London

We owned a commercial property in Fleet Street. Our retail tenants went bust. Our choice was to either (a) rent the unit to another retail tenant who may or may not go bust or (b) start our own food retailing business. If (b) worked, not only would we have a good tenant, but we would also have a good business. And with that, Fuzzy's Grub was born. We served gorgeous hot meat sandwiches, carved off the bone by our chefs behind the counter. Proving extremely popular, the business opened 7 outlets within its first few years. In 2008 the business got into financial trouble when the credit crunch hit and was sold to recover most of the bank debt that had funded the rapid expansion. RIP Fuzzy's Grub

 

Luxury retirement housing, UK

In 2005 we began to manage the UK's premier luxury retirement housebuilder for one of our investors. In 2006 we concluded a successful management buyout of the company for £13.5m. We scaled-up the business rapidly and combined it with our other property development business at the time. We took on a large amount of debt to fund the expansion. In July 2008, the property and credit markets froze. The company's 30 year history came to an end when it entered administration, two months before Lehman Brothers collapsed. RIP English Courtyard

Property Development, London & Home Counties

In 2001, I left investment banking, sold my apartment and started a property development business with very little capital. By 2005, our team had grown to 5. At the start of 2008, it had grown to more than 70. By the end of 2008, the team was 0. Yes zero. We had purchased over £75m of property assets and were in the process of building out schemes with an end value in excess of £345m (retirement, residential, commercial and mixed-use). Then the 2008 credit crunch hit. Too much of our funding was short term. We had no chance. 12 different banks descended on the group of over 70 companies and limited liability partnerships. Administrations, receiverships and liquidations followed. RIP The Opes Group


Other failures and disasters

Buying residential apartments off-plan in Thailand. Setting-up a online retailing business to resell Primark fashion. Acquiring an online toy retailing business. Shorting the US equity market in 2017 (too early). Selling out of Bitcoin at $460. Acquiring a seat in FINEX, a Dublin based open-outcry trading floor. Losing money in the dot com bubble in 1999.