Robert Wilson

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Robert Wilson's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Robert Wilson is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Managing Director RobertWilson
Robert Wilson’s offices in
Moira, Northern Ireland
The origins of the Robert Wilson Estate Agency Group
lie in the auctioneering trade. Over 40 years ago, its
managing director, Robert Wilson, was trained by Wilsons
Auctions Ltd as an auctioneer – a style of business that he says
is commerce in its purest form: a mini stock market where the
value of goods is determined by open public outcry. In 1986,
however, a colleague prompted him to diversify the company
into what it is today: a multidisciplinary estate agency based
in Moira. To this day, though, Robert holds this part of the
business dear and is one of few auctioneers licensed to work in
both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Robert tells
The Parliamentary Review
more about this journey of adaptation
and diversification.
Working together for a better future
Although the main road from Lurgan to Belfast runs though Moira – an old
Georgian village – it had been somewhat neglected, and a lot of the buildings
were derelict. It has been my privilege to help Moira re-emerge into the vibrant
and popular small town that it has since become. Other neighbouring business
people shared my vision and invested heavily in their premises and worked hard on
their enterprises to bring about this remarkable transformation. Our success in this
respect is such that millennials often cannot believe their eyes when I show them
photos of Moira from 1977.
»Managing Director:
»Established in 1986
»Based in Moira, Northern
»Services: Multidisciplinary
estate agency
»No. of employees: 12
»Transitioned from the
auctioneering trade to estate
agency service
Robert Wilson
Highlighting best practice
Of course, ambition drives business,
and, by 1988, I had acquired a second
office in Lisburn. It was at this point
that I was approached by Royal
Insurance, who traded in Northern
Ireland as McQuitty Ross. They
purchased my business and employed
me as an area director.
By the mid 1990s, the results for the
corporate estate agencies were clear:
Prudential had already left the stage
on the mainland UK, and Halifax,
Royal Life and others would follow suit
within a few years. I recommenced
business on my own account in Moira
in 1995 and began a decade of
sustained growth, adding offices in
Dunmurry, Lurgan, Belfast and Lisburn
along the way.
By 2006, the housing market in
Northern Ireland had risen, according
to the Nationwide Building Society
statistics, from an average price of
£92,000 in 1995 to an average price of
£225,000. What came next, however,
was unforeseeable.
The next few years were more
difficult than anyone anticipated –
prices collapsed and what remained
of the market was dominated by
repossessions sold on behalf of
lenders. In my own case, loyal staff
had to be made redundant and offices
closed. We nonetheless survived this
episode, and today operate from
three locations: Dunmurry, Moira and
Lurgan. We are now a tightly knit and
highly motivated group, with a finance
director who watches over our costs
with utmost attention to detail.
The principles of life and
In the office, we have a plant that
was given to me by a grateful vendor
shortly after I opened the new
office in 1995. It continued to live
despite severe neglect – it was rarely
watered and ended up withered and
straggly. After regular watering and
a good pruning, it now sits proud
and green close to the window. Its
recovery serves well as an analogy for
my business during the recession: it
doesn’t have as many branches as it
used to have, but it is still alive and
flourishing. Both life and business
allow for a certain margin of error, so
long as one adapts.
Today, we face different challenges in
property sales. Online estate agency
systems are here to stay, the large
property portals hold enormous
influence and, of course, the industry
is more tightly regulated than ever
before. What, then, of the traditional
high-street agent? Many years ago, in
the rural community, the auctioneer
An extensive range of
The next few
years were
more difficult
than anyone
anticipated –
prices collapsed
and what
remained of the
market was
dominated by
was the person who sold animals at
the livestock mart and helped people
sell their property – sometimes they
even acted as the local undertaker.
This model is all but obsolete these
days, but the distinction between the
type of business that people conduct
on their smartphone or laptop and our
business is the principle of caring.
Ultimately, much of our business
comes about because of great
upheaval – a divorce, a bereavement
or financial difficulties. No advertising
medium, no matter how interactive,
can support a person during trauma
and offer genuine understanding and
empathy. Simply put, if a sale or chain
of sales collapses, the online system
cannot talk to the various parties
and try to redeem the situation.
We, on the other hand, keep the
plates spinning and often earn our
money after the initial offer has
Looking ahead
A large proportion of our sales at
present are new houses, and we have
dealt with some of our builder clients
for many years. This section of the
market has been buoyant, and the
availability of land has become crucial
once more. Since this impacts directly
on my business, it is very important
to me that a good planning system
is functioning and that important
decisions can be made quickly at a
higher level.
We look ahead with optimism, and
back with some nostalgia. Around us,
we see competition both physical and
on the internet. We’re always aware
of what’s happening elsewhere in the
market and at what trends are taking
place, but not at the expense of our
own future. Our job, quite simply,
is to do the best we can for our
Both life and
business allow
for a certain
margin of
error, so long
as one adapts
A dedicated and friendly

This article was sponsored by Robert Wilson. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister