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Exclusive: Howsy buys Upad out of liquidation and re-employs staff

Howsy CEO Calum Brannan says the Upad brand and website will be operated as a complementary business and that the acquisition includes Upad's landlord database.

Nigel Lewis

Online lettings platform Howsy has bought former rival Upad out of liquidation for an undisclosed sum and will run the business separately, The Negotiator can reveal, hot on the heels of its Urban.co.uk acquisition in September when it also announced a further £5 million fundraise.

Upad went into liquidation in mid-October after founder James Davis said ill health had led him to discontinue the business.

Howsy CEO Calum Brannan (pictured, above) says Davis has been ‘extremely helpful’ during the process, and that the purchase includes the brand name, technology, landlord client list and website.

Brannan has also revealed that, although all Upad’s staff were made redundant in October, Howsy has tracked many of them down and a number have now re-joined the business.

“They were key to building the Upad brand, we are keen to ensure that they are part of the next stage of the business,” he says.

“We’re going to revive the brand name and build upon it, making sure that we learn from all of the great work that has gone into building such a well-known and respected name.

“Upad’s technology delivers some fantastic solutions, and their loyal customer base represents a cross-section of UK landlords who we hope we can continue to deliver a great service.”

Complementary

Brannan says Upad will be operated as an independent but complementary brand and that “different landlords have very different needs, and we are keen to ensure that we cater for all those needs”, he says.

“Over time, as the brands develop and we gather more feedback from customers, we may decide to integrate the organisations a little more, but there is certainly no rush.”

Howsy and Upad are similar, but different businesses. Howsy runs a three-tier fee structure that includes tenant finding and on-boarding, property management and a premium service.

Upad’s service offers is largely a tenant finding service, with rent collection as a bolt-on, but does not include traditional property management. Howsy says it will be contacting all former Upad customers over the next few days and that for many of them it will be ‘business and usual”.

January 13, 2020

One comment

  1. It will be interesting to see if the current trend of buying online agencies once they have failed, and of course are free of incumbent debt, proves to be good business. Emoov 2 seems to have made minimal progress after 12-months and other concerns that have been hoovered up have yet to turn a penny. Calum Brannan is a very capable man, as indeed is James Davis the former owner of Upad, but, for me the problem always seems the same.

    Tech should allow us or the founders and torch holders to re-imagine the blueprint of the process, given that proptech allows solutions not available before. You see, tech is a tool, used to solve some pretty basic problems. Like how do we make Rentals more efficient? – that was a joke by the way as there are other 150 processes at work.

    My advice Calum, use the purchase of the assets of Upad, and before you do anything try to imagine what the rental sector will be like in 5 years time and build that model, do not automate or just digitally transform the current model, not easy but essential, get a room and fill it with users, developers and lots of clients, landlords and tenants and all the associated stakeholders and start asking questions, you will be surprised at the answers.

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