Winkworth was established in 1835 by Mr Henry Winkworth in Mayfair, London. After his passing, the Winkworth family kept hold of the business and ran it until 1960 when they sold it to Mann & Co (now part of the Countrywide group.) Simon Agace, who is still Winkworth’s current chairman, bought the business in 1974 and turned it into a franchised network before handing it over to his son Dominic Agace, Winkworth’s current CEO, in 2004.
Over the last 45 years, the Winkworth network has grown from just three fully owned London offices, to 100 franchised offices across the UK. Today Winkworth very much remains a family business, and both Simon and Dominic still play an active role within the running of the franchise. This family ethos has filtered down successfully through a lot of the offices where relatives run their businesses together.
Out of the 100 offices, 24% of them are co-owned by husband and wife teams, siblings and some franchisees have now employed their children in preparation to take on and future-proof the businesses they have grown over the years.
Husband and wife team Simon and Lisa Jacobs opened Winkworth Devizes in 2011 and expanded into Marlborough with a second office in 2014. "We had bad experiences with two previous business partners prior to joining Winkworth, therefore we decided to just do it together. The main benefit of working with your marital partner is that you have complete trust in each other. It also helps that we can share the responsibility of juggling the business and our family equally."
Since 2013, CEO Dominic has co-owned the Winkworth Kensal Rise and Willesden Green offices with his university friend Stuart Boyd. Stuart and his sister Christine have worked together for the last 10 years and he quickly bought her on board as operations manager when he opened the Kensal Rise office. “Christine’s nickname in the office is ‘The Oracle’ because she keeps everyone in check and up to date in terms of legislation and compliance. The benefit of working with family is you trust 100% that the business’ best interests are served,’’ comments Stuart.
Almost two years ago, Ajay Bathija converted his existing independent agency in Kingsbury to Winkworth. After selling her own retail business to assist Ajay, his wife Shilpa joined him in the office in March 2018. “Shilpa joined originally to run our social media and digital accounts, however slotted in so well she now assists the sales department, carries out valuations, handles social media and spends lots of her time giving back to the local community,” comments Ajay. “I don’t think we would ever have coped without her joining, as having Shilpa as part of the office has added so much to the positivity overall. We can all see what a difference she is making.”
Mark Epps and his sister Nicola have been with Winkworth for 35 years. They opened the Winkworth Blackheath office together in 1993 before Mark then went on to open Winkworth Chislehurst in 2011 and then the Greenwich office in 2013. Mark’s wife Helen is a director of all three offices, and Mark and Nicola’s brother Guy is not only the branch manager of the Greenwich office, but has also been with Winkworth for 25 years.
“We’ve all worked extraordinarily hard to ensure the success of our family business and I have no negative comments – apart from avoiding work talk outside of the office!” comments Nicola. “The best part of working together is the loyalty and trust we all share with each other.”
Winkworth has remained resilient through difficult market conditions, not only due to the franchise nature of the network but also because of the dedicated and knowledgeable individuals in the offices. Whilst not suited for everyone, the Winkworth offices that have families working together in them has proved successful over the years and the new franchising team will welcome any potential franchisees who wish to go into business with relatives gladly.
If you are interested in finding out more about joining the Winkworth network contact the new franchising team today.