James Nicholson

Nicholson takes full control of Harlex

Sarah Townsend

The former Kier Property and Argent Group executive who launched developer Harlex Property in 2017 has bought an additional 33% stake in the company from investor Fiera Real Estate, making him its sole investor.

James Nicholson set up Manchester-based Harlex with the backing of Fiera and what was then known as Palmer Capital, specialising in the North West along with other Fiera vehicles including Packaged Living and Opus Land.

Palmer has since bought the majority of Fiera and rebranded as Fiera Real Estate.

Nicholson – whose title is managing director of Harlex – has now acquired Fiera’s stake and plans to focus on a wider variety of property deals with funders that could continue to include Fiera. Fiera chief executive Ray Palmer will cease serving as chair of the Harlex board under the deal.

Nicholson said in a statement to Place North West: “[This month], I acquired the 33% share in Harlex Property that Fiera Real Estate has held since October 2017.

“Harlex and Fiera Real Estate have had a successful working relationship over this period, but the opportunity to own 100% of the business was a compelling one.”

He said that Harlex and Fiera investment vehicle Fiera Real Estate Residential Land Partnership would continue to work together to complete the delivery of their 80-home residential scheme in Timperley – a redevelopment of the Wyvale Garden Centre – “which will unlock much-needed private and affordable homes for the borough of Trafford”, according to Nicholson.

He added: “Building on the success of its first three years, Harlex has established strong links with a range of funders and continues to seek and deliver high quality developments across the industrial, office, roadside and single family residential dwelling sectors. In addition to the Timperley scheme, Harlex is working on several exciting, large-scale, mixed-use regeneration projects.

“I am excited about the opportunities that this new structure presents for the business and am looking forward to a productive and successful 2021.”

Alex Price, chief executive of Fiera Real Estate and a former board member at Harlex, added: “Fiera Real Estate UK sold its 33% ownership in Harlex back to [Nicholson] earlier this year. James will continue to manage the project he is undertaking with the Fiera Real Estate Residential Land Partnership.”

As development director of Kier Property between 2011 and 2017, Nicholson delivered 81 Fountain Street, an office development in Manchester city centre. Prior to that, he was development director London-based developer Argent, where he helped to deliver Manchester’s One St Peter’s Square.

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