Imagine a West Country hamlet with a manor, mill house, pond, thatched cottages and converted barns. This is the type of themed development that Emlor Homes builds in an ecologically sound fashion with traditional materials such as stone and thatch. The houses are individually designed, priced at between £200,000 and £400,000, and 80% of them are sold to London executives. Spencer and Clinton McCarthy founded the Hampshire business in 1994 after spending 12 years learning the trade in their father’s well-known construction company, McCarthy & Stone. Spencer attributes his company’s success to the quality of its work. He says that a technician visits each property, every six months for the first two years, to ensure that problems have not arisen. Such a customer service has driven up sales 82% a year from £952,000 in 1997 to £5.8m in 2000, when it had 22 staff. Emlor is now moving its operations towards retirement developments because it feels there are higher profit margins in that field. Although this brings the brothers into direct competition with their father’s business, they believe the market is big enough and growing sufficiently quickly to support all of them.
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