The success of the Candy brothers has been somewhat overshadowed by their long-running legal battle with businessman Mark Holyoake, but the story of how they became billionaire property developers is one that all budding entrepreneurs should take heed of.
Last month, it was revealed that the High Court had ruled in favour of Nick and Christian Candy in a £132 million lawsuit in which they were accused of bullying, blackmail and intimidation.
People at the top often find themselves embroiled in scandals and legal dramas, but it certainly wasn’t always this way for the Candys.
Back in 1995 the brothers bought their first property, a one-bedroom flat in Redcliffe Square, Earls Court. Using a £6,000 loan from their grandmother, they renovated the £122,000 apartment and managed to sell it for £172,000 just 18 months later.
It was the start of a long and successful journey.
Twelve years later, a consortium led by Nick and Christian purchased Chelsea Barracks, one of the most prestigious chunks of real estate in London, for around £900 million.
Nowadays their portfolio is said to be worth £600 million.
The duo’s success has been partly attributed to their recognition that millennial London was not just becoming the financial capital of the world, but the city everyone wanted to live in. The influx of Middle Eastern royalty, Russian oligarchs and billionaire tax exiles needed to be catered for.
In the week after the credit crisis Nick sold three flats over £12 million, according to an interview for This is Money. He was once reported as claiming to know 20% of the world’s wealthiest people and being able to pick up the phone to 40 billionaires.
In the early days the Candys built their reputation on providing a very specific aesthetic – slick, minimalist bachelor pads bristling with gadgets. They were the first to introduce fingerprint-recognition door locks into the UK.
But recognising the need to satisfy clients’ every desire, they have done fur fridges, champagne cellars and swimming pools that turn into ballrooms. Designers shadow their clients for days or even weeks to get an accurate picture of their lifestyle.
The brothers were brought up in the affluent Surrey commuter-belt town of Banstead. Their father, Anthony Candy, managed an art studio and a media production company, while their Cypriot mother Patricia attended stage school before becoming a drama teacher.
What’s particularly impressive is that the brothers are entirely self-made.
After attending the local private school in Epsom, Nick studied human geography at Reading University while Christian graduated with a degree in business management from King’s College London.
Post-university, Nick worked at KPMG, J Walter Thompson and Dentsu, while Christian joined investment bank Merrill Lynch.
In their spare time, between 1995 and 1999, the brothers began doing up flats, gradually working their way up the property ladder. Eventually the brothers were able to give up their day jobs and set up Candy & Candy – and the rest is history.
Notable projects have included One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge; turning the former Middlesex Hospital north of Oxford Street into an apartment and commercial complex worth close to £1.5 billion; and Manresa Road in Chelsea, the 19th-century building they converted into 16 “eight-star luxury living” apartments.