Words & Photography Kirk Truman
“I wanted to follow my dream and move away from the already established family business. I felt that it would be an interesting challenge to see whether I could create a new lettings and management business…”
As they say, some things run in the blood. And in Nicky Rosenthal’s case this certainly holds true. The rich legacy of real estate entrepreneurship that dates back over sixty years seems to sit confidently on his young shoulders. There is an obvious and respectful acknowledgement heritage that has been passed down through the generations. This nod to the past is laced however with a distinct passion for charting a contemporary journey in real estate space.
In an age of large corporate organisations and multi-office chains, Nicky’s vision of introducing Leo Newman, a bespoke, family-run real estate outlet to the bustling streets of the West-End could raise an eyebrow or two. There is however a definitive reason to bringing yet another lettings and management agent to the already jostling and teeming area. “We believe in the principle of personalised service… service that goes beyond the suits and the ties. Service that looks the customer in the eye, understands his or her requirements to a tee and finds the most appropriate and bespoke solution in the circumstances. This is the essence of Leo Newman and we believe that this is what today’s customer is looking for” says Nicky animatedly.
This family venture is a homage to Nicky’s ancestor’s dynamic spirit of unbridled entrepreneurship – entrepreneurship that saw the family foray into the property market in the West End on 28 June 1948 with the setting up of a company that still exists today. “Over the decades the Berkshire Group with my great grandfather, my grandfather after him and then my uncle has seen and worked through the changing face of London’s residential property business as well as the constantly modified regulatory frameworks. It is this robust base of expertise and experience that is backing Leo Newman’s focus on residential lettings and management ” recounts Nicky.
The spirit of the Group continues today with the belief in the traditional human construct that respects and cherishes relationships. When gently nudged to expound further, Nicky continues “Relationships with landlords, relationships with tenants, and relationships with local businesses that dot the nooks and crannies of the West End. Relationships that matter and that we take pride in.”
Bringing the discussion back to the reason for our meeting, I discuss the process of setting up the agency on 85 Charlotte Street here in Fitzrovia. “I wanted to follow my dream and move away from the already established family business. I felt that it would be an interesting challenge to see whether I could create a new lettings and management business. The opportunity came to open on Charlotte Street and I thought lets go for it! We’ve been open for a few months now already – this is now the official launch of the business.”
Leo Newman endorses the ethics of being involved comprehensively in every property that they deal with. Every little business nuance that was imbibed from the Berkshire Group is now being funnelled back into this latest enterprise, ensuring that there is an enthusiasm and understanding of property that would be hard to come by.
I ask isn’t this how most agents promote themselves – Nicky clarifies “Let me demonstrate to you why Leo Newman is not just another high street agent. In the rigid cookie cutter world of residential lettings and management we have a flexible, cost effective, full suite of bespoke services for the buy-to-let landlords who are not at the high end of the market. Though we are not averse to taking on joint lettings as it is the nature of the game, we feel that going with us exclusively is a guaranteed win for landlords… with our all inclusive 10% fee on letting and management services. And there are absolutely no hidden or additional costs!” he explains.
He continues “Moreover our experience helps us support the customer with free personalised consultancy services on all property matters. So you see, when the customer avails of our unique basket of lettings and management services he or she gets much more added value than had bargained for. Personal care, responsiveness and fine attention to detail are the tenets of our enterprise.”
”Our family business allows us to dip into building and management resources so that the customer gets the benefit of having building contractors on call for refurbishment or any other issue at no extra cost. I have to mention here that these are experienced contractors with whom we have created long standing relationships over the years. In other words, every property is managed like it is one of our own!” his passion and energy clear.
“We want to show the customer that values venerated in the past such as being approachable, accessible, taking intense pride in one’s work and practicing the forgotten art of listening still exist in today’s pace of life. We have taken the best from the past to look to the future.”
So is this the reason behind the branding unit ‘Yours Sincerely, Leo Newman’ I ask curiously. “Yes, it is the manner in which one signed off letters to inflect a personal or intimate tone” he explains. “We believe that each person is as unique as their needs are. Our boutique style focuses on the person and the experience. Nothing says that better than ‘Yours Sincerely’“ says Nicky. “We ensure that this trait of service is imbibed by every person in our Charlotte Street office through constant training.”
It is a story of striking but harmonious contrasts. The Leo Newman outlet is as in vogue as they come. A vibrant mix of bright magenta and yellow sofas welcomes the customer in to a warm endearing shop, where technology co-exists with sepia toned pictures on the wall. The contemporary brand colour palette of black and magenta is designed to stand out amongst the clutter of estate agent boards that pepper the lanes and by-lanes of the area.
A rather quaint and endearing feature of Leo Newman is the disposition to integrate with the local community and make the premises available for communal and charitable events. Nicky’s vision is to bring back the forgotten concept of warm village dynamics to the heart of the West-End. The big screen at the shop window lends itself to promotions by local businesses. The outlet has been designed to make people and customers feel at ease, walk in for a coffee or a chat about anything and everything local with the ebullient and vibrant Jo Tapper, Leo Newman’s residential expert.
Having spoken with Nicky, I have come to see his vision of a passionate belief in the raison d’etre, the reasons for existence or being. The belief that there is a personal business relationship to be had with every little flat above every little shop set among the old stonewalls as well as the glitz, the potpourri of the West-End. A challenge, but a challenge with a great promise. Yours Sincerely, Leo Newman.