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At a time when questions of property and good quality building are very much in the fore, it was quite a relief to speak with Naman: owner of the new and pioneering property development company, Pathak Properties. Coming from a business family background, Naman already possesses the necessary business know-how, but much like the archetypal rugged cowboy also carries that individual explorer’s will and desire to carve out his own vision and ethical niche.
“One of the key ingredients to growth in London,” he commented, “has been the level of landscape regeneration throughout the city. This is evident in areas such as Hammersmith and Fulham, which boast one of the largest regeneration projects in the UK, building thousands of new homes as well as schools, rail infrastructure and retail outlets. In terms of selecting areas we do tend to branch out to those that are still growing, for example Brixton and West Ealing, which is contiguous with Ealing Broadway – a now highly, developed area. We are spreading and going with the property momentum in and around the up and coming neighbourhoods.”
Naman also made sure to emphasise the hard grafting that brought him to this innovative point: “my first business was an estate agent called Kings London, and the co-founder and I did everything ourselves, from painting the walls to the more cerebral aspects of the business. I’ve also had experience with my own recruitment agency within the banking and construction industries, which means I am very well equipped to run my own property development business; from industry connections (good relationships with bankers and various stakeholders) to the types of places that an inhabitant might want to live in, to identifying the best prices for materials and labour and accurately valuing the finished product, I’ve literally done the ground work. It means we can make the best of previously unexplored spaces, and deliver value at each strand of the supply chain.”
Another virtue the young entrepreneur prides himself on is the level of customer experience and care. “Each investor has their own account with us,” he told us, “so they can sign in at any time during the vast development process to check progress, finances and the specifics, and feel in control of the respective project. There is sharing of information and maximum transparency. I’ve been very immersive about the research process too, in terms of finding better quality materials for example. I’ve travelled abroad extensively to educate myself of the best approach to creating the perfect living environment. A top quality porcelain tile might be 30 pounds a square metre here, but it is 7 or 8 pounds when bought from overseas. Conversely, a far superior product from overseas may also cost 30 pounds or more per square metre, so we try and deliver a better quality product to the end user instead of making a financial saving.”
This certainly seems to extend to the ethos of the entire company, which forwards quality in a smart and affordable way. “Another example is the way we measure the property,” Naman continued. “We don’t just consider bankable square units, but the volume of the whole interior. Other developers come at it with a very financial focus, with the sole aim of delivering as much floorspace as possible, but with our units, even a smaller space would feel bigger just because we’ve caringly designed it. Similarly, we might go for properties which are a bit further out, but with great connectivity into the city, so you get the same luxury for the most palatable price.” Thus Naman emerges both an individualistic and socially conscious businessman, who in spite of dealing in bricks and mortar, is far from a traditional materialist.
Tell us a bit more about the unique selling point of your business?
To add to what I’ve said, as well as being flexible, imaginative and transparent with our investors and customers, we also maintain consistency in our values across our diverse team. From the architects to the bricklayers, everyone brings their unique skills and attributes to each project whilst upholding the company ethos of delivering high quality properties at affordable prices within prime locations.
Do you have a particular architectural inspiration?
Whilst I would not say there is a particular inspiration, the majority of the new sites we acquire are without planning, so we treat each site as a blank canvas. In some areas, the design of the area leads itself to a certain direction, and we try and obtain as much inspiration from the heritage, history and culture of that specific area to influence our designs and concepts. One of our projects, in Brixton, is influenced by Le Corbusier, whose design and architecture led the redevelopment of the area post World War II. Incidentally, he is also behind the design of my parents’ hometown in India, Chandigarh, so it has some significance to my family background.
You’ve mentioned good connections and knowing the materials, end-valuation etc. Is there more to being a great property developer?
It’s part of that, but basically being able to make good business decisions on your feet. It is a highly competitive market and good properties need to be appraised instantly, so knowing your numbers, be it on construction costs or eventual sale values, is of paramount importance.
What do customers really want?
Each customer is different- some are first time buyers, others are downsizing, and some may be investing into a buy-to-let. But we generally look to appeal to all varieties of buyers by developing properties where there are strong transport links, good schools and plenty of local amenities.
What’s been a highlight moment in your career?
I think securing an investment from overseas, and in particular, India. Anyone who is in the business will know how notoriously hard it is to secure an investment from there. Our success over the past couple of years has enabled us to compete with some of the biggest developers in the UK.
Finally, is there any other element of your vision that you’re particularly proud of?
I’m in the process of speaking with various charities, to which I’d like to give a percentage of our company profits. Again, we’d also like to make the end buyer inclusive so that they can choose which charity they’d like to contribute to. The end goal is to have a selection one can choose from, from cancer research to dyslexia and helping mothers cope after abortion and through post-natal depression.