Who we are, what we've achieved, where we're going
Harp Heating (later to become United House) is formed as a domestic central heating specialist by former Group Chairman Geoffrey Granter, in 1964.
The Company establishes its first partnerships, working with SEGAS, and collaborates with the Greater London Council to establish a new quality standard – the ‘4 Day Package’ – for housing refurbishments with minimal disturbance to residents. The Company begins to explore the potential of housing refurbishment and new build construction as growth markets.
As a direct response to a challenging market, the first Harp Heating television commercial is aired. The commercial is a success and the organisation continues to grow. Gradually, however, a move is made towards refurbishment and new build construction. Harp Heating is rebranded as United House, and the Company moves into the current headquarters in Swanley. Jeffrey Adams, now Group Chief Executive, arrives. At Swanley, our Just-In-Time warehouse facility begins operations. During the 1980s we also pioneer the Resident Liaison Officer role. By the end of the decade United House is well on the way to becoming the leading specialist housing construction company it is today.
During the 1990s, the recognisably modern United House begins to take shape. A niche development division, Modern City Living, is established. As environmental issues begin to assume greater importance, United House develops an environmental management system to BS/7750:ISO14001:1996. ‘Rethinking Construction’ (aka the Egan Report) is published in 1998, which seeks to introduce a culture of continuous improvement into the construction industry. A renewed focus on partnering, and in particular the emerging PPP/PFI market, leads to the formation of United House Solutions in 1997. The Housing Forum is also launched as a consequence of this cultural shift in the construction industry with Jeffrey Adams joining as a founding board member.
The 2000s sees many important developments as United House continues on its path of strategic growth, implementing strategies for partnering, business growth and environmental initiatives. Colin Dixon is appointed as Managing Director of United House Limited to steer this growth. During the decade, Modern City Living is rebranded as United House Developments by Nick Stonley, its new Managing Director, and the United House brand is updated to reinforce its growth strategy.
United House becomes the first contractor to form a strategic partnership in housing with a local authority when it joins forces with Portsmouth City Council. It achieves the first operational housing PFI contract (in Islington) and becomes the largest housing PFI contractor in the country, with 7,000 homes under management. Jeffrey Adams becomes Chairman on the Housing Forum, and the Health and Safety ACTIVE campaign takes United House into the industry’s top-quartile for performance. On the environmental front, the recycling centre in the Swanley head office opens in 2007 and the Company’s environmental management system achieves certification to ISO 14001:2004.
Bolstering the Resident Liaison Officer role, United House develops an NVQ Level 2 in Housing in conjunction with Hackney College; the first such qualification in the country. Fourteen RLO’s achieve the qualification.
Another innovation is the introduction of affordable retrofit demonstration eco-homes in Islington and Hammersmith.
Geoffrey Granter, Chairman of United House and the original founder of Harp Heating, retires. LDC (part of the Lloyds Banking Group) makes an equity investment in the Group to support the Company’s growth strategy and expansion plans. Stephen Halbert joins the Board as Non Executive Chairman.
The Company is recognised by the 2010 Sunday Times Profit Track 100 of Britain’s fastest growing private companies (ranked at number 78).
Colin Dixon retires as Managing Director of United House Limited. The Group features in the Sunday Times Top Track 250 as the 178th fastest growing mid-market private company based on turnover.
In February 2011, the Group achieves 9th place in the Buyout Track 100 league table which logs Britain’s top mid-market private equity-backed companies with the fastest-growing profits.
In 2011, to support the Company’s ambitious growth strategy, a Major Projects division was formed to deliver United House’s new pipeline of large scale, mixed-use projects in excess of £50m.
For the year ending 31 December 2011, United House Group achieved another year of record revenue levels - £239m, up from £201m in 2010. Profit before tax was £15.3m (£8.7 in 2010).
In January 2012 United House sold its Housing PFI investment portfolio (Camden I and Islington I and II) to John Laing Infrastructure Fund. The sale will enable the Company to invest further in its expansion strategy in London and the South East.
Colin Forrest joins the business as Managing Director of United House Limited.