From the ashes of the blitz rose a successful brand, which still leads its market today.
On 15th February 1944, as the Second World War was drawing to a close, an estate agent called Harold Samuel decided to buy Land Securities Investment Trust Limited. It owned three houses in Kensington together with some government stock.
It was only the first of a number of acquisitions that Samuel was to make in the following years.
To some his strategy seemed odd, he focused on what to others might have seen ‘dumps’, properties that had often been left in ruins from the regular night-time bombing London and other UK cities had endured during the war.
Samuel saw past the ‘ashes’ and recognised their potential. His unusual strategy was to buy and redevelop bombsites, but not any old bombsites. He choose his sites with care.
He understood that as interest rates were low and development was slow in coming forward, the value of the right assets would rise rapidly. He seized the opportunity and started to build his brand by borrowing at attractive rates, buying sites in the right places, developing and then capitalising on his now higher valued and often sought after assets.
He had predicted the upswing in the property and even coined a phrase that summed up his approach: ‘There are three things that matter in property: location, location, location.’
He had recognised that location was, and is the most important factor in a property’s value.
Success came quickly the 12 March 1948 issue of ‘Investor’s Chronicle’ reported: “Meteoric seems the only fitting term to describe the growth in earning power of The Land Securities Investment Trust. For the year March 31 1938 [prior to Samuel’s purchase], earnings on the Ordinary stock were equal to 3%. Ten years later they are running at an annual rate of 83%.”
In a relatively short time, Land Securities established itself as the UK’s leading property company. A position it still holds today.
In 1963, Samuel became the first developer to receive a knighthood. He was made a life peer in 1972 and remained Chairperson of Land Securities right up until his death in 1987.
What he would have made of Channel 4’s programme named after his famous quote is not known.
And the moral is if you can see past the present and accurately predict the future, then that future can be very successful. Can you see opportunities where others only see problems?