PROPERTY stayer Kevin Seymour says Brisbane’s commercial sector is five years out from recovery, citing a lack of development and tenants outside the CBD.
The Seymour Group co-founder points out that his company hasn’t developed anything in more than two years, with diminished opportunities since the onset of the downturn.
“People are speculating on deflation but I don’t see that happening – it’s just going to be very slow,” he says.
“It depends on the world economy and the Australian economy, but coming out of this trough is going to take a lot longer than people expect – I’d give commercial property five years and with the residential sector, I don’t have a crystal ball.
“In the last year we’ve really done nothing. We’d like to develop but nothing stacks up economically at this stage.”
Seymour Group’s last major acquisition was the Country Road building on Queen Street in September 2009.
“We bought 180 Queen Street, which has a six-level office with a ground floor and the National Australia Bank vault – it’s in a very strong location next to Queens Plaza. It’s been two years without developing anything at all because there are no opportunities without undue risk, but we need to develop income-producing assets,” he says.
Due to the lack of activity the company has had to let three staff go in the last 12 months.
It also looks likely that the Brisbane City Council will make a compulsory acquisition of the company’s 315 Milton Road site with plans to turn the former tennis centre into parkland, but Seymour was unable to comment on a likely price.
He plans to finish up his position on the board of publicly-listed company Watpac by June, with plans to retire from the Seymour Group once his grandchildren are old enough to take over.
“Any person when they get to 70 years, my age, has got to start reviewing their lifestyle and quality of life. There comes a time in business when people should step down from public company boards,” he says.
“Whilst they have a lot of experience as a senior generation, there’s a time they should make way for younger and more talented people. It’s not the right time at the moment. Most companies are trying to come out of it to be ahead of where they were prior and everyone wants to leave on a winner.
“I don’t want them to carry me out in a pine box either. I’ve already got one foot in it. I had a slight stroke earlier this year which was a wake-up call, it puts you on your toes and makes you think.”
Seymour Group featured in Brisbane's Top 50 Private Companies this month. Read the full feature in Brisbane Business News September - out now in a newsagent near you.
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