VanHan alumni launch a new PCL buying agency, Aykroyd & Co

September 2018 : Prime Resi

Former VanHan Director Hannah Aykroyd has teamed up with fellow alumnus Sophie Bonsor to launch a new top-end property buying agency, Aykroyd & Co, operating across Prime Central London.

VanHan’s well-known and highly-connected founders, Rory Penn and Thomas van Straubenzee, shut up shop at the start of this year, when they joined Knight Frank’s super-prime Global Wealth Advisory Team as Proprietary Partners.

It sounds as though the new start-up is already off to an impressive start, with a ready-made roster of heavyweight clients following Aykroyd and Bonsor from VanHan. “We feel incredibly honoured that almost every one of our clients has come with us,” Aykroyd told us. “It means everything to us. The calibre of our previous clients has helped solidify our strong track record, which enables us to negotiate much more firmly on behalf of existing and future clients.”

The firm picked up where VanHan left off, and has already transacted on nearly £60m of residential property in Prime Central London since March. Done deals include a set of four mews houses by Regent’s Park for c.£14.5m, an eight-bed townhouse with adjoining mews in Marylebone for c.£13.5m, a three-bed house in Belgravia for c.£4.495m, and a five-bed apartment rental at c.£17,500 per month (N.B. asking prices, not achieved). Current clients include private individuals, family offices, investors and developers, from both the UK and overseas.

Based in Mayfair, Aykroyd has already built a team of four, including Chartered Surveyor Edward Towers (who just joined from Winkworth, where he was an Associate Director covering the South Kensington, Chelsea, Earls Court, Notting Hill, Belgravia, and Knightsbridge areas) and office manager Rachel Quayle.

Sophie Bonsor, Hannah Aykroyd, Edward Towers & Rachel Quayle

The team has over 30 years experience in the prime resi arena between them, and also claim to be “significant property investors” in their own rights, “having carried out various refurbishments of their own.”

Aykroyd was at VanHan for 15 months before its founders moved to Knight Frank; she previously worked with Jo Eccles at Sourcing Property (now SP Property Group), after starting out on the estate agency side of the business with stints at Strutt & Parker in Mayfair and Douglas & Gordon in Notting Hill. Before VanHan, Bonsor worked at Fulham-based “one stop property service” TPS London.

As at VanHan, absolute discretion and personal attention to detail are key maxims for the new agency: “We only ever work with fully retained clients: focused, committed buyers”, says Aykroyd. “We offer a highly intensive service and each member of the team has the capacity to look after only 4-6 clients at any one time. This provides an edge because estate agents know that when we have a client search we, and more importantly our clients, are highly focused on acquiring a property. This means that agents often go above and beyond to ensure we and our clients have exceptional access to properties.”

Access to off-market properties is a big selling point, but the firm is also promoting its network of property-adjacent advisors, including education consultants (“education is one of the key drivers in many clients’ property purchases”), tax accountants, lawyers and currency traders. “We like to send every client to the tax accountant we work with as a first step,” says Aykroyd, “to ensure the purchase is structured properly. Between this and the currency trader we work with, we’re often able to save our clients hundreds of thousands of pounds, in addition to the value we provide with our traditional services as buying agents.”