January saw a couple of exciting changes. The first was the announcement of the change to our company structure with 2016 Telecoms company acquisition Touchdown Offices Ltd joining the division and becoming Communicate Telecoms, and Cyber and Information Security company Landscape Networks joining but continuing to trade under the same name.
The start of the year also saw the appointment of a Chairman to oversee all our divisions.
Property and real estate expert Chris Oliver, who was an early investor and advocate of Communicate, was appointed Chair of Communicate Technology PLC on 1st January 2018 and will bring with him a wealth of knowledge and experience in the commercial property sector.
Chris, a qualified Chartered Surveyor with nearly 30 years’ experience in the real estate industry, has an impressive CV. Starting his career in a large surveyors practice, King & Co, in their investment department, Chris left the firm in the mid-80s to work for a large commercial developer, Bride Hall Developments. In 1989 he set up his own development company, Salmon Developments, and in 1994 formed a large joint venture with NFU Mutual.
Over the next 7 years Chris took on approximately 3 million square foot of commercial development, with an end value of circa £300m. In 2001, he sold out and set up Cube Real Estate, forming a joint venture with Lehman Brothers in 2004. Latterly, in 2008, Chris formed a 50:50 joint venture with BP Pension Fund, acquiring circa £100m of assets.
As well as taking on the role of Chairman of Communicate, Chris also holds further executive roles in businesses including being Director of Silversurfers.com – an internet portal for the over 50s, Chairman of Future – an office interior fitout specialist, and he’s also a Director of PieceRegen - an architectural and development management company.
However, it is not just property and technology that motivates Chris. Married with two grown-up children, he is just as active in raising monies for charity as he is in bricks and mortar. Sitting on three charity boards, Chris helps to support SKRUM – an organisation that aims to give hope to the youth of Swaziland by educating them about HIV/AIDS via the game of rugby with the ultimate aim of freeing the country of the disease, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation – whose mission is to raise global awareness of the need to protect and conserve wild animals and their habitats, and the Black Prince Trust – a not-for-profit charity who is managing and developing a 2.5 acre site in Lambeth, South London, into an inclusive sporting and learning hub for the whole of the community.
Chris said: “I am pleased to join Communicate as their Chairman. I was an early investor in Communicate as I could see the huge potential in the business model Tony had developed. I knew, with my property background, that I would be able to make introductions to both tenants and landlords for the company to provide the full breadth of its services. Over the last 18 months I have also brought a large number of investors to the table during Communicate’s various fundraisers, helping to enable the acquisition of both Touchdown and Landscape.”
Tony Snaith, CEO, said: “We are thrilled to have appointed Chris as our Chairman. He has been an invaluable contact and intermediary over the years and it seemed only natural that we invite him to be a figurehead for the company to help the drive for growth. He’s well equipped to help us continue our growth and we are excited about working with him in the future to continue the success we have enjoyed in our formative years.”