Case studies

Winterbrook: A family-run business building homes across Leinster

19 November 2020

Growing up, construction was part of family life for Anne-Marie Drohan, Sales and Marketing Director at family-run housebuilder Winterbrook. The business was established in 2014 by Francis Rhatigan, a property developer with over 40 years of experience, supported by his three children, Kate, Conor and Anne-Marie, and an in-house team of industry professionals.

“I remember being in show homes with my dad when I was 10 – and it went from there,” explains Anne-Marie. “We all had the drive and vision to create this business together so we said we would give it a shot and give it our all.”

In the early days, growth wasn’t always easy as Winterbrook faced the combined challenges of new regulations, price rises and competition from large retail investment funds. “Because of the very price-sensitive products that we have, it was all about trying to find price-points that made sense for us and the buyer. And with all the big funds and REITS, we were facing big investor competition as well,” explains Anne-Marie.

But in the face of a changing market, Winterbrook demonstrated impressive growth and acquired sites across prime locations in the Dublin region including Foxrock, Dalkey and Enniskerry. “Today we’ve got some niche sites and it’s the level of quality that we produce that makes us stand out. We can deliver on our timelines which is really important for customers,” Anne-Marie explains. “We also have a keen eye for detail and a customer-led approach to design that is integral to our ethos.”

Accelerating Winterbrook’s growth with minority capital

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Invested in March 2019

Sensing the two companies would be a good fit, a mutual contact put Winterbrook in touch with BGF with a view to boosting Winterbrook’s expansion. BGF invested €5 million in March 2019. The investment enabled Winterbrook to develop its offering across the residential, private rental and commercial sectors.

With BGF’s investment, Winterbrook was able to increase its supply and start developing larger residential schemes. “The investment has allowed us to start two high density apartment block schemes which marries nicely with our medium-term strategy,” Anne-Marie says. “Without the BGF investment, this wouldn’t have been possible so it’s helping us move forward and scale to the degree we would like.”

“We are very pleased to have secured these investments. They will open up new opportunities as Winterbrook will now have timely access to additional funding when opportunities arise. Capitalising on our capable team and many years of successful home building, we will be actively pursuing new development opportunities and look forward to bringing many more new housing developments to the market.”

“BGF are true to what they say. They have a minority shareholding, and the fact they’re ISIF-backed carries a lot of clout in our industry.”
Anne-Marie Drohan, Sales & Marketing Director at Winterbrook

Anne-Marie says Winterbrook’s dealings with BGF have been helpful and pragmatic and the partnership has helped to foster new business relationships. “BGF are true to what they said. They have a minority shareholding and they leave us to run the business. And the fact that BGF is ISIF-backed carries a lot of clout which helps in our industry.”

Looking ahead to the future, Winterbrook is actively considering new site acquisitions and is planning to grow its team while maintaining its family culture. “Over the next five years, we will look to add new staff to support our growth. But it is key for us to be able to hold onto the family ethos because that’s one of our key differentiators to our competitors.”