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Richard Browning

Richard Browning on bowling in a new direction

By Richard Browning

Director - Olympus Property Group

Former professional cricketer Richard Browning is spinning his sportsmanship qualities into a new field with his company Olympus Property Group: designing and building bespoke residential developments in Hampshire.

Having played professional cricket for four years – for Derbyshire and then for Northamptonshire – Richard moved to Southampton in 2010 and set up a cricket coaching business at the Ageas Bowl. Alongside his love of the sport, he maintained a keen interest in and passion for property, simultaneously creating a portfolio of properties before fully exchanging cricket for construction in 2016.

Richard is humble about his debut into the built environment, credibly reinforcing his six years of experience in the industry with a Master’s in Building Surveying and RICS Building Surveying APC whilst conscientiously tackling industry challenges like reliability and sustainability.

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What’s the business set-up and services?

Typically, our clients are domestic – anything from a £50,000 house extension, through to a full new-build property. We've got good relationships with some local architects, I'm responsible for the sales, and our project manager takes on the project at the point of commencement along with our team of 17 subcontractors.

A big thing for me is reliability and delivering projects within an allocated timescale. I know that's very difficult in this industry with external factors like weather and material procurement issues, but I've set it as a goal for our company – to try and make sure that if we say something's going to be done in 18 weeks, it will be.

Currently, our priority is not so much about growing the business in terms of its size and turnover, it’s about growing the business in terms of its maturity, solidifying our place in the market, and being very good at what we do.

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Are there elements from your time as a professional cricketer that you apply in your business today?

In playing a team sport, you become very understanding of people around you. Particularly with a long team sport like cricket – some of the games were three days long, so you’ve got to spend a lot of time with people in your team. Creating that team and bringing people into that team also translates into business. I think I’ve benefited from being involved in team environments; being able to understand people and accommodate others’ views.

From a personal point of view, I used to get satisfaction out of taking a wicket as a bowler. Trying to replace that feeling of satisfaction and that void in your life when sport disappears was very difficult to do. But I can relate that now to seeing a property in need of a significant programme of works and moving that forward. Being a part of that journey gives me that satisfaction, I like seeing the finished article, I like seeing the process – you get a bit of buzz from it.

Are there any projects that you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of?

We converted a commercial property to four residential units about three years ago as a principal contractor for a client. It was quite a tricky building, originating primarily as offices and factories and requiring all sorts of different remediation work to turn it into habitable properties – so it was a satisfying project to be part of.

The other jobs that spring to mind are those that have changed the lives of people – getting feedback that you’ve positively changed the way a family operates in their home and that they’re happier as a result of the work is something that’s really nice to hear.

"I think I've benefited from being involved in team environments; being able to understand people and accommodate others’ views."

What are the current challenges and opportunities within the property sector?

The big one is sustainability. 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions are created through the built environment so there’s a big opportunity there to make a change as professionals in the sector. We’ve been tasked with making sure that everything is more sustainable from the vehicles that we drive to the type of materials that we buy, but the challenge is making those solutions accessible in a user-friendly, affordable, and practical way.

I think other challenges are around people feeling the pinch of interest rates and general cost of living. It’s going to be interesting to see how the landscape looks over the next year or so.

What are your observations of the property market at the moment?

There’s still a lot of demand for home improvements. Where interest rates are high, people are choosing to renovate instead of move.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that people have been a little bit more cautious with their cost consultancy process. I think people have been more careful in terms of their investments and it’s taken longer to get a client through from concept to commencement.

"There's still a lot of demand for home improvements. Where interest rates are high, people are choosing to renovate instead of move."

Richard Browning- Director, Olympus Property Group

You’re currently doing a master’s in building surveying; how has your perspective evolved since starting your course?

I enjoy the studying because it’s something that’s relatable; I’m enjoying the content, and I can resonate with a lot of it. There are areas about the built environment that I can now speak about more passionately and confidently.

The course I’m on is underwritten by the RICS, and the present knowledge that we’ve been given as a cohort, particularly in relation to things like sustainability, places a big responsibility on our shoulders as future practitioners in the market because of all the changes that need to be made globally – so it’s an interesting challenge for us.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

We’ve got three children – I’ve got a stepdaughter aged 17, a daughter who’s nearly five, and a son who’s just about to turn one. We enjoy spending time together as a family, especially at our holiday property in Portugal.

I’m a member of Alresford Golf Club; I try and play as much golf as I can. And I’m getting into my road cycling – I’m doing a charity bike ride from London to Paris in October.