Alex Pease confirmed as chief exec of Watkin Jones

Watkin Jones has appointed interim chief executive Alex Pease to the role on a permanent basis.

Pease had been holding the reins since the departure of former boss Richard Simpson in July following an announcement that the group was facing up to £45m of exceptional costs.

At the time, the build-to-rent (BTR) specialist said it would need to sell a “limited number” of non-core assets and increase its exceptional provision for remedial works.

Last month, it reduced its profit expectations, saying new cost pressures meant it only expected to break even in the year to the end of September.

Chair Alan Giddins said Pease had steered the business through a critical period which had seen significant challenges for the markets in which it operated.

Under his leadership, the group has concluded the sale of three non-core private rented sector assets, taken action to better align its cost base and made progress against a number of important operational initiatives.

“Over the past four months… Alex has shown his ability both to lead Watkin Jones and think strategically about the future direction of the business,” said Giddins.

“While the board ran a full search process, which included a number of strong external candidates, it was clear that Alex was the outstanding candidate for the role.”

After joining Watkin Jones in 2010, Pease took on the role of group investment director in 2013 and was appointed chief investment officer two years ago.

Watkin Jones said it does not intend to appoint a new chief investment officer, having already promoted former Cushman & Wakefield partner George Dryer from head of divestment to group investment director in July.

Pease said the business, which specialises in affordable BTR and student accommodation, was well-placed to regain momentum against a challenging backdrop.

“The purpose-built student accommodation and BTR sectors are among the most attractive asset classes in real estate and while we continue to face short term macroeconomic headwinds, I have no doubt about our ability to navigate through these successfully and return the group to profitable growth,” he said.

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