Rural consultancy George F White branches out to meet clients’ needs

Robyn Peat, managing partner at George F White
Robyn Peat, managing partner at George F White
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Consultancy George F White is growing its planning and energy services following increasing diversification among its rural client base.

The property and business specialist was founded in the North East in 1979, before expanding into Yorkshire in 1990 with an office in Bedale.

It subsequently opened an office in Shiptonthorpe in 2010.

George F White now has a turnover of £5.7m and employs a total of 130 people, including 26 in its Yorkshire offices.

Managing partner Robyn Peat said the consultancy, which initially focused on rural property, has developed full multidisciplinary services as a response to its clients’ changing needs.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “As we’ve grown, our rural clients themselves have diversified. As a business, we’ve diversified to match their needs.

“To anticipate your client’s needs you’re always thinking a little bit ahead of the curve.”

While rural and farming advisory services continue to be a core part of George F White’s business, in recent years the consultancy has expanded through planning and development services, estate and asset management, business advice and management, commercial property advice and energy and project management.

In the five years since it launched its planning business, it has taken on seven planning specialists throughout the business.

Its architectural consultancy in Bedale office accounts for around 15 per cent of turnover.

The firm has also seen an increasing demand for energy services and project management, as the needs of its client base become more complex.

Mr Peat said: “We’ve done a lot of work over in energy across the region, particularly in East Yorkshire, including putting up single turbines for people and advising on energy.

“The market is moving relatively quickly and it is an area where we bring a good deal of specialism to.

“In the past has been more focused on wind, but there’s an opportunity for us to get involved in other projects, as the needs of individual farmers, businesses and landowners become more sophisticated.”

The consultancy is “one of the few” to provide pure independent advice on energy projects, he added.

“A lot of our competitors have arrangements with existing energy companies, finding sites and opportunities. We for the most part act exclusively for our clients.”

Mr Peat joined George F White in 1989, before becoming a partner in 1992.

Earlier this year, he succeeded Hugh Fell, who left the consultancy after 20 years as managing partner.

Mr Peat said his own career has evolved in a similar way to the businesses of his clients.

“I’ve become more of a business person and less of a rural land agent over my career,” he said. “That viewpoint is something that I believe our clients are very much looking for.”

Customer service is at the heart of the consultancy’s approach, he added. “I’ve always provided my clients with excellent service and that is central to what we do as a firm.”

Having seen a five per cent rise in revenues last year, George F White is targeting 10 per cent growth year-on-year, both through existing customers and new business.

While its growth has previously been organic, the firm may look at acquisitions in future.

He added: “While we’ve been in Yorkshire a long time, it’s an area we’d like to continue to grow.”