The secret’s out!
Natasha Higgins meets Jonathan Hudson, owner and founder of Hudsons
Hudsons Property have a stylish shop front in the heart of London’s media district: Charlotte Street. The office, a period conversion, blends in so well with the chic boutiques and restaurants around, that you might not immediately recognise it is an estate agency.
Inside, the offices are as slick as the man himself, Jonathan Hudson, who sports a pair of his trademark, red-rimmed specs and looks every inch ‘Fitzrovia’. Into the meeting room we go. The room’s dominant feature is a striking red glass table which uncannily matches Jonathan’s red rimmed glasses perfectly. Mini models of Routemaster buses sit quietly on the table and caricatures of London street scenes line the wall.
Jonathan is on form. He’s had his third coffee for the day, an extravagance he only allows himself on Fridays and at the weekend, and has been for his morning workout.
These plush offices are a far cry from where it all began for the successful agency owner: a Saturday job in Chigwell (Jonathan’s home town) where he washed the Ford Escort Cabriolet of the owner of the local estate agency as a way of making some extra pocket money. It was then that he developed a taste for selling property: “I loved the vibrant office atmosphere and was fascinated by what they were doing.”
At a similar time, Jonathan began to develop a keen interest in London: “Chigwell was a great place to grow up but as the years went by, I grew ever more intrigued by London’s West End.” As a teenager, Jonathan remembers how he and his friends would come to Oxford Street for the afternoon, jump on and off Routemaster buses and visit some of the big stores like Selfridges and John Lewis as well as some of the trendy clothing shops. These early years helped him realise how special this part of London is.
“It was a difficult few years, but
my training put me in good stead
and helped me understand the core
aspects of the market”
The dream of becoming an estate agent first presented itself in the tough market years of 1988 to 1992. During this time Jonathan learnt his profession: “It was a difficult few years with many repossessions and high interest rates but my training put me in good stead and helped me understand the core aspects of the market”.
After years of training and working all over prime areas of London in 2002 Jonathan finally decided to set up his own estate agency.
“I could see things were evolving and the way people searched for property was changing significantly for the first time in memory,” he says. “Some local agents were being a bit slow in embracing user-friendly websites and I saw a gap in the market Hudsons could fill, by embracing online services.” Today they continue to use social networking sites in order to provide a better service for their customers and enhance their own profile.
When it comes to running his own business, Jonathan has certain values by which he and his staff are expected to adhere: “We provide an honest and personal service and are good listeners. Seeing a happy customer at the end of a transaction, agreeing a sale for our sellers, guiding a deal through to completion are all aspect of the job that leave you feeling very satisfied.”
Jonathan explains that he is deeply certain about how transactions within property should be conducted: “In the end, I found it difficult to work for companies who didn’t see it the same way I did so I needed to start my own venture”.
Hudsons have come on in leaps and bounds since Jonathan’s first office on the first floor, two doors down from where they’re based today. “It was tiny,” he explains. “I sold an investment property I owned in Bloomsbury as well as my car in order to start Hudsons and secure the office. My dad offered to help out with answering the phones which allowed me to conduct viewings. Gradually things developed and grew”.
The office now has 11 members of staff, all of whom operate in either sales or lettings. The premises now occupy the ground level and first floor of 24 Charlotte Street and Jonathan still remains passionate about his industry and the area in which he works: “The company has had three years of phenomenal growth and Fitzrovia as an area is becoming increasingly residential and desirable. It used to be that at weekends the area was very quiet, but this has now changed.”
The question beckons, where does Jonathan see the business going? “Having recently won a silver award for marketing at the Times and Sunday Times Property Awards, we feel that we are headed in the right direction but as with most things, there is always room for improvement. There is the prospect of opening another office, but that is not something we’re jumping into just yet”.
28 years on from his fun days on Oxford Street, Jonathan can feel proud that he made it in London’s West End. Living in the area today and working metres away from where he once jumped on and off Routemaster buses, gives him a strong sense of achievement. Ironically, Jonathan’s parents didn’t actually know he came into London at the weekends as he didn’t want to worry them; “looks like the secret might be out,” he says with a knowing laugh.