JAMES HOPKINS spent two years working at the fine-art dealer Christie’s before leaving to start a fish business. This was successful enough to enable him to spend a year sailing round the Mediterranean. When he returned, Hopkins moved into property development after buying a rundown cottage in Suffolk with a friend and selling it on at a profit. Hopkins Homes, founded in 1993, now builds up to 200 homes a year and has specialised in developing brownfield sites in towns and rural areas, using high-quality materials and individual architectural designs. This approach has won the company several awards, including the 1998 What House? Silver Award for Best House Design, and has increased sales by 105% a year, from £1.7m in 1996 to £14.7m in 1999. One of the company’s biggest projects is the development of the 120-acre site of the former St Audry’s mental hospital in Suffolk.
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