Alfie Best is a success story and-a-half, having risen from humble beginnings as part of a Romany Gypsy family living in Leicester to have a net worth in excess of £250m.
Alfie found his niche early in his career. Looking to provide high-quality homes for people on ordinary incomes was his mission. His belief is that there is absolutely no reason why someone shouldn’t expect a great lifestyle even if they don’t have a millionaire’s bank balance.
With this belief as his motivation, Alfie Best went on to seriously upgrade the former static home market to deliver five-star park homes set in beautiful surroundings, with stacks of community services designed to allow a fantastic lifestyle at a more affordable price.
He struck gold and where the 2008 financial crisis decimated most developers in the UK, demand for more affordable housing kept on rising as people looked for cheaper alternatives to bricks and mortar.
Since buying his first mobile home park in Romford, Essex, in 2001 – the Lakeview Residential Park, Wyldecrest Parks is one of the largest park home operators in the UK, with nationwide parks across England, Scotland and Wales.
Propertyshowrooms was delighted to be able to speak in-depth with Alfie Best to find out more about how the entrepreneur has navigated his way to a £250m real estate fortune.
Has loving what you do always been your secret to success?
I think it’s the secret to any good business. Any good sportsman is only any good because of his practice. He might have ability and be brilliant. He might be the most talented sportsman on earth but it always comes down to how much practice he’s prepared to put in. And he’ll only put in enough practice if he loves his sport – he’s got to love what he does to be able to put the effort in to succeed in it.
When you started making property acquisitions, did you leverage with mortgages or purchase outright?
The first mobile home park we bought, we didn’t have a mortgage. It was paid for outright and that was because I had done other property deals that allowed me to earn the money to buy the first park.
After that, because I wanted to grow as quickly as possible, I leveraged that with mortgages on the parks and we still do that to this day. For instance we bought a small park for £11.5m and we leveraged 50% on that with HSBC. On the other hand, we’ve just bought two other parks and we’ve paid for them outright. It depends on the value and whether or not we have the funds at the time. We use a mixture of both our own funds and mortgage finance. The company is self-funding at this moment in time.
So you’ve got quite a flexible business model from a financial point of view?
I would actually say it’s quite rigid. We make sure that the capital expense that we have has a core income stream that can support any borrowings that it makes. If it doesn’t need to borrow the money, whether or not it can support it, we’ll borrow the money anyway. We’ll only borrow the money if we’ve only got a certain amount that’s readily available to us from our own funds.
How about factoring in FOREX volatility right now, particularly when dealing in the states?
At the current time, it’s not worth introducing capital into the US because of the pound being below value. Due to that fact, we’ll be borrowing the money to buy the parks in the US.
How would you say the Trump administration is going to support foreign investment going forward?
He’s a businessman so he knows the one thing that you can never beat is imported wealth. We live in a global world now and the more currency that you can import – in other words ‘take’ from another country and bring into yours is a massive, massive benefit to that country’s economy. That’s because that country hasn’t had to earn it.
Do you think we’ll see investors pulling out of London in the future because of Brexit or currency weakness?
I believe that the UK will actually see increasing income being brought into London and that’s predominantly because the one thing that has been a safe hold for this country and for foreign investors, is good value property in the capital. This is something that will continue to be the case for a long time to come, unless something seriously happens. Investors aren’t buying property for income returns albeit they are expecting an income return and they are buying them on that basis; they are more interested in parking money up for capital appreciation.
The EU doesn’t have any teeth at all. For instance, what did it do when Greece was going bankrupt? Pretty much nothing and for me, that was the defining point because what they should have done was rallied together to stop Greece from going under.
Do you know what I did when Greece went bankrupt? I flew straight to Athens and bought four buildings for 8 million pounds and today they are worth 30 million.
What you have to remember is that every country in the world has virtually ruled the world at some point or has been a dominant force in history and that includes Greece.
Before we wrap this interview up, what pearl of wisdom can you share with us that gives an insight to your success formula?
In business, I think you need to have a strategy on your way to success but in implementing that strategy you have to act like water. That means you must be prepared to go around, over and through obstacles to get to your end goal. You have to modify how you go about that and how you change your form, how you change your business and how you adapt it. As long as you think of your business like water, yes you have a form but you are running to a system which has to change and adapt along its path. If you have this view, I think nothing can possibly go wrong.
Propertyshowrooms would like to thank Alfie Best for imparting his valuable insights to us and our clients and wish Wyldecrest Parks every success in the US where we are sure, its luxury brand of affordable housing will be an absolute hit.
Visit www.wyldecrestparks.co.uk to find out more about Wyldecrest Parks.
Source:: Property show rooms