Bill Lynn, Chief executive, storeys:ssp
PROPERTY agents storeys:ssp has been based in the same Newcastle location for almost 120 years. After rejecting four recent merger approaches, the well-known company’s chief executive Bill Lynn tells Peter McCusker that the business is staying put for many more years to come.
ONE of the North East’s biggest property development deals in recent years was secured on the French Riviera by Bill Lynn and his team.
For the last eight years Lynn and his team have headed to Cannes for the MIPIM, the world’s largest annual commercial property fair, and it was on one of these trips that storeys:ssp introduced Liverpool-based property company Downing to the Newcastle Science City development.
With work now under way on the first stage at the former Scottish & Newcastle site, Lynn is proud of this achievement – especially in the current climate with new commercial property developments particularly thin on the ground.
“It was 2004 when we met and we struck up a successful relationship. This saw us take the scheme through the planning process for Downing and what we have now is the start of a very exciting scheme for the region,” he said.
The Downing Plaza development will include 100,000 sq ft of offices for Newcastle University Business School (NUBS) which will be a gateway to the city’s wider Science Central in Gallowgate, near St James’ Park.
But despite the national and regional commercial property market showing signs of recovery from the worst slump in living memory, Lynn, 55, remains cautious about the immediate outlook.
“Most people believe things are getting better, but slowly,” he says. “I have experienced three recessions and this one has been like none of the others.
“In the past we had high interest rates, or high unemployment, or high inflation or a combination of these things. But this time round we do not have the money in the system. Property has been the main sufferer of this lack of available cash.
“However, things are beginning to look better, although we should not get carried away and we are not out of the woods just yet.”
A keen sportsman, Lynn played table tennis at county level and was a single-handicap golfer in his teens.
He still enjoys skiing and golf, although he has now slipped to a handicap of 12. He recalls one school report which read “the start of the tennis season is no reason for Lynn to forget his maths”. It was little surprise that he became a PE teacher on leaving Walbottle Grammar School.
However, he failed to secure a place at his first-choice Loughborough College and went on study land economy at Sheffield Hallam University.