A Northern Irish property entrepreneur has invested £27m in Liverpool over the past year – and now predicts the city will bounce back from the pandemic “stronger than any other”.
Belfast man Tom Smyth and his firm Dream Luxury Serviced Apartments has developed and opened three buildings in the city centre since March last year.
His firm claims to be the UK’s fastest growing serviced apartment business, and despite a travel ban for most of the year, he decided the time was right to create almost 100 new apartments in the city, investing a total of £27m.
He said: “We’ve opened in Tithebarn Street, Sweeting Street and most recently Dale Street and they’ve all been pandemic projects.
“The first was at the beginning of lockdown, then another three months in, and now a third as we’re coming out of the restrictions.
“Everybody thought that I must be mad to do it, but I always knew we were doing the right thing because if any city can bounce back from Covid it will be Liverpool.
“The people in Liverpool are a different breed than anywhere else. I come from Belfast, which is the ultimate bounce-back city because we went through a war, but there’s such a connection between Irish and Liverpudlians, physically, mentally and historically.
“The people in this city have that same fighting spirit, they have a special camaraderie which I believe will give Liverpool the strength to make a really positive recovery.”
Mr Smyth, 46, launched Dream Luxury Serviced Apartments almost four years ago, after building a property development business first in Northern Ireland and then in Dubai.
He started with 30 apartments in Belfast and is now on course to open his 1,000th apartment by the end of 2021.
They include 63 studios, one, two and three-bed, penthouse and duplex apartments at Adelphi Wharf, overlooking the River Irwell in Salford, and a further 57 opening in Salford within two weeks.
He added: “We’ve been so successful because we’ll do whatever it takes to be busy. We’ll make 3,000 sales calls a week, we’ll put out 5,000 emails across our database and we’re always active on LinkedIn, contacting people and saying ‘do you have accommodation needs in this city, how can we help’?”
Mr Smyth said his firm’s “proactive approach” has helped it not only survive but expand during the global pandemic.
He said: “We’ve moved with the times and been dynamic.
“Covid has either made people or destroyed people in business. It’s made us more resilient and stronger as a company because we’ve had to look for new opportunities.
BusinessLive is your home for business news from around the North West- and you can stay in touch with all the latest news from Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria through our email alerts.
You can sign up to receive daily morning news bulletins from every region we cover and to weekly email bulletins covering key economic sectors from manufacturing to technology and enterprise. And we’ll send out breaking news alerts for any stories we think you can’t miss.
By bringing together North West coverage with that from across Reach’s titles in England and Wales, BusinessLive will shine a spotlight on the entrepreneurs, the stars of the future and the small firms that are the backbone of our economy.
Visit our email preference centre to sign up to all the latest news from BusinessLive.
“We targeted all essential industry, everybody still working, and we’ve been fully booked. Serviced apartments have been in demand because people feel safe staying with us. They can have keyless check-ins, the rooms are ‘ozoned’ to kill viruses, you’re not queuing at a hotel buffet, you can just stock up on food in a supermarket and stay within your own space.”
Dream’s clients are currently 100% corporate and essential industry, but Mr Smyth expects that to shift to 70-30 corporate and leisure once restrictions lift.
He said: “That’s why we created an influencer building with Dale Street, full of really beautiful aspirational images of gorgeous people, luxury cars and superyachts.
“After everything we’ve been through this past year, we all need to start dreaming again.”