HAD & Co: The female-led architecture business building a better Manchester
Launched by school friends Saira Hussein and Nixie Edwards in Burnley, HAD & Co is one of the most successful female-led industry firms in Britain - branching out to Manchester in 2018 after a decade which saw them scoop over 40 award nominations.
Construction is a man’s world. Or so the old cliche goes.
The arena of hard hats, hi-vis and heavy lifting has historically been recognised as a no-fly zone for females – with men accounting for over 89% of people working in the industry today.
But as it turns out, Mancs don’t have to look far to find an example of a firm that’s bucking the trend.
HAD & Co Property Consultants is a proud member of the 11%; a female-led construction industry business sat right on the doorstep of the city centre.
Launched by school friends Saira Hussain and Nixie Edwards, originally from Burnley, HAD & Co has morphed into one of Britain’s most successful women-steered consultancies – opening up in Manchester in 2018 after an enormously successful first decade of experience which saw the duo scoop 40 + award nominations.
Manchester certainly likes its innovators – and HAD & Co fits that description in more ways than one.
“Things move so much faster here,” Saira tells us.
“In a small town like Burnley, the work is very different. In Manchester there’s more projects, more development, more investment, more funding and more support from councils.
“It’s been an incredible experience for us.”
It didn’t take long for HAD & Co to became a sought-after name in the local scene for advice and guidance surrounding interior design, planning and architecture.
But just 18 months after they’d settled in, the doors to the office were hastily locked due to the onset of the pandemic.
The world of construction has, in many people’s eyes, been ‘one of the lucky ones’ during the pandemic.
For the most part, the maze of towering cranes that permanently populate Manchester have largely stayed put as work continued through lockdown.
But even in this industry, the constantly-changing rules have proven troublesome.
The closure of local restaurants and cafes under Tier 3 has kicked off a domino effect that’s rippled through to the building sector – pausing development work and leading to cancelled deals with suppliers.
The damage to hospitality has penetrated so deep it has hurt the wider economy – and HAD has felt the impact.
“We’d just got things moving, then COVID hits,” Saira tells us.
“It’s been an enormous challenge for us and we’ve faced some difficulties – but we’ve found a way to navigate it.”
According to Saira, the secret to HAD’s survival has been cementing strong relationships in the city and securing lengthy contracts.
In the two years since moving to Manchester, HAD & Co has commenced work on heritage projects for historic venues like the Royal Exchange and signed long-term deals that have given the company the necessary robustness to stand firm in the face of COVID.
HAD & Co has also enjoyed huge success in HMO planning applications – securing as many as seven during the pandemic alone.
But whilst 70% of HAD & Co’s work is commercial, the rest is focused on residential development and interior design – one of the few markets that enjoyed high spending in COVID.
2020 was a year where most of us spent more time indoors than ever before – making us intimately familiar with every single surface, corner, nook and cranny in the building – and it proved to be a waking realisation.
After weeks looking at the same four walls for 24 hours a day, homeowners came to the conclusion that there was a lot about their properties and workplaces they wanted to change.
Demand for loft conversions and extensions went through the roof. Literally in some instances.
“We’ve had such high demand for designing people’s houses,” Saira explains.
“One side of being a female-led practice is that clients are more comfortable with you when it comes to interior design work.
“They feel like you have a better understanding and are open to dealing with you.
“On the residential side of things, that’s definitely a benefit.”
In their spare time, Saira and Nixies are ambassadors for women in construction, encouraging young women to follow in the footsteps of firms like HAD & Co whilst endorsing sustainable design and clean technology.
But her day job is all about keeping the momentum of the business going .
“We’ve got around 30 projects on the go right now,” Saira tells us.
“Some of them are long-term, others are faster turnarounds.
“It’s a real mix and it’s all really exciting.”
It’s true that the future remains uncertain for businesses for as long as coronavirus is around.
But if we can rely on one thing, it’s that the city skyline will continue to change.
There’s simply no stopping construction in Manchester. And HAD & Co’s fingerprints will be all over it. Right the way through 2021.
Learn more about the great work HAD & Co are doing in Manchester by visiting the company website.
Who are Manchester United’s suitors and what are the odds on them buying the club?
While the majority of football fans are currently wrapped up in the World Cup, it’s easy to forget that it was all going on at Manchester United just a couple of weeks ago.
With that in mind, it didn’t take long for the bookmakers to set the odds for who might come in next were the Glazers actually to agree to a sale and while there are some familiar names, others might come as a bit of a surprise.
As you can see, top of the list is no surprise: Failsworth-born billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe leads the odds with an estimated 25% chance of buying out Man United.
Said to be one of the richest men in the UK, Ratcliffe has been seen as arguably the most serious bidder for some time now, despite being told the club was “not for sale” back in October.
Meanwhile, Michael Knighton — who previously hoped to head up a consortium bid involving Ratcliffe’s immense wealth and already tried to buy United more than three decades ago — sits in third, though he’s made it clear that any potential takeover would require help with financing.
Sat in second are the Dubai Sovereign Group, i.e. a state-run fund akin to Manchester City‘s Abu Dhabi Group, PSG’s Qatari owners or Newcastle’s new Saudi Arabia administration.
Dubai are yet to join the premier footballing fray when it comes to putting the wealth of an entire nation’s investment fund into a sporting franchise but it seems like only a matter of time before they do.
Then there’s Jim O’Neill, a.k.a, the Lord and Baron of Gatley, who previously tried to launch a hostile takeover back in 2012. He hasn’t been in the conversation for some time but given his Goldman Sachs background, could be a serious option.
As for David Beckham, we imagine he’s too busy running Inter Miami and his part in Salford City via the Project 92 ownership group — though that Qatar money certainly won’t have hurt his chances. And, again, who knows, he could form part of a consortium.
On to US investors with the Harris/Blitzer Group, owners of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, as well as the Pagliuca/Tanenbaum Group, who run the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Both groups have expressed interest in buying Premier League clubs in the past and as we have seen with Chelsea’s recent takeover, there seems to be a growing interest from American businesses even if not everyone is convinced that their designs on English football are a great fit.
Then we come to ‘The Field’. For anyone unaware, this group is made up of inherited Red Bull owner, Mark Mateschitz, who not only owns the Formula One team but also RB Leipzig, Salzburg and several other sports teams. He is estimated to be worth more than $15 billion.
Beyond Mateschitz, the trio is completed by two of the richest men in the world, i.e. Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg. Yep, those guys.
This list is by no means exhaustive and, as always in football, who knows what’s going to happen next? Any one of these suitors could emerge as the leading candidate but there’s always a dark horse waiting in the wings.
Moreover, it isn’t just a case of ‘anyone would be better than the Glazers’ — nothing but trouble follows that way — so whoever the club decide to hand over the reins to, you can only hope they go through the proper vetting process.
Is there anyone else you think has an outside chance?
The Glazer family are FINALLY considering putting Manchester United up for sale
In an absolutely staggering day for Manchester United, it looks like the Glazer family could finally be considering selling the club. Parades outside Old Trafford incoming?
The announcement was made in an official statement by the club on Tuesday, 22 November, while most fans had not long finished watching the last World Cup game and were still digesting the news from earlier in the evening.
Should a sale actually go through (we’ll believe it when we see it), it will bring the Glazer‘s ownership of the club to an end after more than 17 years of protests and regression as a once top European team.
You can read the full statement down below, including words from the typically silent Glazers themselves.
The statement detailed how the board of directors are now “commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club… with the ultimate goal of positioning the club to capitalize on opportunities both on the pitch and commercially.”
“As part of this process, the Board will consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the Company.” Yes, you read that right: they might seriously consider selling.
The mere notion of a sale will come as a surprise to virtually every football fan, let alone United supporters, as the US businessmen have long made it clear they had no intention of letting the multi-billion pound sports franchise go.
It was only just over a month ago that long-time suitor Sir Jim Ratcliffe said he was told by the Glazers directly that the club “is not for sale“.
The announcement goes on to explain that they will be examining plans on everything from “stadium and infrastructure redevelopment… expansion of the club’s commercial operations on a global scale”, to the “long-term success of the club’s men’s, women’s and academy teams” before taking next steps.
They also reiterated that the fan base’s interests will also be considered as much as stakeholders. Yeah, we’ve heard that one before…
News of the club being put up for auction was first broken by The Athletic, who reported that the much-maligned American owners had instructed their banks to handle the sale of the sporting giants.
Shortly after that, Sky News revealed that the share price of the club rocketed by 17% following the rumours alone.
Speaking in a rare statement from the two, co-chairmen and directors Joel and Avram Glazer said: “As we seek to continue building on the Club’s history of success, the Board has authorized a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives.
“We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the Club today and in the future.
They also insisted that they will “remain fully focused on serving the best interests of our fans, shareholders, and various stakeholders.”
Whether what happens next is a full-blown agreement to sell or simply an invitation to welcome other investors on board, it is thought that the incoming parties will also be American. It also thought that were they to sell, they will be looking for offers between $5-9 billion.
It has also been confirmed that banking giants Rothschild and Co. will be acting as the exclusive financial advisor to the Glazer family shareholders and all those financially invested in the club.
Before fans get too carried away, the club did reiterate that “there can be no assurance that the review being undertaken will result in any transaction involving the Company” and no further comments will be made until an official decision or breakthrough has been made.
This earth-shattering news comes just hours after the Red Devils confirmed the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo by way of mutual agreement — an outcome that seemed significantly more likely than the club being put up for sale.
Manchester United are approaching nearly a decade without a league title and have won few trophies in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson.
Moreover, despite numerous additions to the squad itself down the year, the consensus has long been that the club has seen little investment from its owners — certainly not with their own money, anyway. With that in mind, a done deal or not, this is a momentous day for United fans around the world.
While we don’t expect a decision before the end of the year, Reds may finally be able to put their Glazers Out banners down in the near future.