Costas Panayiotou – biography


Costas Panayiotou
Head of Asset Management
The Ability Group

Costas Panayiotou’s career began at 16 when he left school to join his father’s company as an apprentice at The Ability Group’s building and maintenance department which looked after their 6,000-unit portfolio.

Costas was based in Hackney working and learning the business from the bottom up. Costas eagerness and hard work saw him swiftly moved into The Groups’ Residential Lettings Department in 2007.

A visionary with an eye for detail and precision, Costas’ exacting requirements began early when he left school at 16, to join the Ability Group’s residential lettings department in 2007.

Having gained a solid understanding of the Lettings sector, in 2009 Costas was entrusted with the re-development of East Weald in the prestigious Bishops Avenue, which involved the restoration of a Grade II listed house and over 40,000 square feet of residential development and private gardens. The successful renovation of this property attracted national attention and was featured in various media outlets before going to market for £100M.

Working History

In 2010, Costas was promoted to the Asset Management department of The Ability Group’s Hotel division, at their headquarters in Portland Place, W1. Costas aptitude at project managing and hard work soon led him to Head of Asset Management. Here he created a team of 3 departments: finance, sales and building maintenance. With this solid team in place, Costas was able to earn a tight grip on the control of the Groups’ 8 leased and managed hotels and govern the General Managers’.

By 2015, Costas was responsible for the performance and management of the groups’ portfolio of 8 Hilton hotels, as well as a ready portfolio of 50 apartments, 3 shopping centers in Germany and private members club. His primary responsibilities were ensuring that the hotels achieve their groups’ objectives and continue to perform to an exceptional standard, whilst balancing costs, especially pertinent with competitors at key locations. Costas created a system whereby each hotels General Manager reports directly to him, thereby ensuring Costas was able to maintain The Ability Group standards and KPI’s.

As a keen entrepreneur, Costas’ had been able to identify areas for improvement and gaps in the market for example he championed and oversaw exciting and profitable modifications to the business, including hospitality partnerships and securing exclusive contracts for The Ability Groups’ Hilton Hotel portfolio. This led to The Groups’ Hotel portfolio becoming more efficient and profitable.

Costas then branched out to create his own destination restaurant lounges beginning at Hilton London Syon Park, which had not been realized before in the UK; The first exclusive shisha lounge & restaurant situated in a 5-star hotel. Syon Lounge was born in 2015 through Costas’ vision and has established itself as one of the finest lounges & restaurant concepts in the UK ever since.

With these experiences behind him, Costas went on to purchase his second restaurant & bar, The Hart Lounge, in North London. Costas identified the potential of transforming a run-down pub into a hugely popular food, drink and lounge destination which has quickly established itself as a place to be seen, and amassed cult status on social media outlets.

With an eye for identifying profitable business opportunities and a passion for entrepreneurship, Costas took the decision to diversify and expand his business career into Cyprus and into the fuels sector.

His company, 7P Petroleum, is based in Larnaca, Cyprus. 7P owns and operates petrol stations and provides transport services for its fuels and natural gas to both retail and wholesale sectors.
It is a new dynamic company which is rapidly growing, by purchasing underperforming sites and transforming them. Year 1 has already seen sales of over 10M litres of fuel and rapid expansion as 7P is imminently purchasing more fuel stations.

At the age of 30, Costas already has a vast business career behind him which has laid the foundations for the future.

5 Simple Steps In Becoming A Property Developer


Becoming A Property Developer

Thanks to the rise in success stories like the Panayioutous’ and because of popular TV shows like Homes Under The Hammer, it’s often perceived that becoming a property developer is a get rich quick scheme and will make you your first million. However, attaining a positive ROI and becoming profitable isn’t as easy as it may seem. Yes, getting underutlised or cheap property, renovating and refurbishing the space, and then renting or selling them for a profit is definitely part of the process, but the truth is it takes a lot more to become a successful property developer, especially in today’s economy. Luckily, there’s 5 simple steps that you can take to ensure that you’re on the right track…

  1. Develop A Property Development Plan – Your first starting point is to have a plan of action for your short term and long term goals, here you’ll want to decide whether you want to buy-to-let or buy and sell. Buy-to-let is often a long term strategy and allows you to build an extended property portfolio, whereas buying and selling is a shorter term strategy and offers a quicker ROI (return on investment). Your decisions should be based on the volatility of the property market, the location, the property and area’s potential and always the rental yield and ROI. 
  2. Decide On Location – Picking the right location is crucial! The one mistake that amaeteur property developers make  is choosing property in an area which is already popular. To be a true sucessful property developer is being able to spot the potential in an area, like Andreas was able to with East London. This is how you make the most profit! Try to find areas which are near to newly gentrified areas.
  3. Buy On The Right Price –  The golden rule in property development is to make your money when you buy – not when you sell. You’ll want to pay as minimal as possible for a property to maximise profit.
  4. Ensure You Have The Right Finances in Place – Becoming a property developer requires money, and until you’ve sold your first property you’re likely to have very little money to play with to build your property portfolio. So, you need ensure that you have the necessary funds in place. If you have any uncertainty banks have property finance experts who’ll be able to give you any advice you need and point you in the right direction. 
  5. Develop For Y0ur Target Buyer –  It’s important to stay focused! You must remember that you’re renovation is not for yourself, it’s for your business. You are not doing up your own home, so you must renovate for your target buyer or tenant. Use your renovation budget to guide your decisions in a fast-moving market.

Factors Influencing The UK’s Property Market 2018


Factors Influencing The UK’s Property Market 2018


Up until recently the property market in the UK hasn’t favoured first time buyers or tenants with extortionate house and rent prices across the country. However, this year with political and economic instability due to events like Brexit, things may be looking up for UK’s first time buyers, but perhaps property developers and landlords may not say the same…

1.  Thank Brexit 

Since the brexit vote, the property market has and is predicted to continue to see a halt on some foreign investment. This in turn will prevent homeowners from being able to put property into the supply chain affecting the property ladder this year.

2.  Low Interest rates

Although the economy is currently weak, another 0.25% hike is expected in Spring, which will take the Bank of England base rate to 0.75%. So, what does that mean for you? It may not mean much for you if you’re a homeowner on a fixed rate for your mortgage. However, the hike does mean that it will add any additional £22 to the usual £175,000 tracker mortgage. Yet, mortgages will remain relatively cheap, but with inflation most homeowners will find paying off their mortgage as a struggle.

4. Greedy Landlords Are Predicted To Struggle

After years of what some may see as unreasonable rent increases, landlords are finding that they can’t get any more money off tenants any further than they currently are. In 2017 the average UK rents rose by less than 1%  and fell in London. As inflation affects salaries this year, it’s expected that there will be few rent increases across the UK in 2018. And, with the new ban on letting agency fees coming into place in 2018, things are looking easier for Tenants.

The Panayiotou’s and their Charity Work


George and Costas have always been committed to charity work, helping ventures that raise important issues that are causes close to his heart…

George and Costas Panayiotou are committed to charity work, it’s evident that this charitable nature and philanthropy is something which is spread throughout The Panayiotou family. His father Andreas’ company, the Ability Group are proud to support the Hilton in the Community Foundation Project.

Every year they throw a fun-filled, sparkling Charity Ball at the gorgeous Hilton Park Lane in Mayfair. The money raised is dedicated towards supporting young people along people alongside other corporate partners. With the charity’s main aim being to help as many young people as possible generating most of their funds from Fundraising initiative run by the Hilton.

Under the banner Supporting Young People Worldwide the Foundation is dedicated to making a real difference to those who are most in need. This is done through targeted grant-giving, with an aim to support smaller charities that might otherwise be overlooked.

In 2006, the Foundation donated over £1.3m to numerous good causes, including Action for Kids, Crisis UK, DebRA, Kids Cookery School, Show Racism the Red Card, Snowdon Award Scheme. The Hilton hotels and offices nominated local charities to receive 152 grants from money raised by colleagues, benefiting causes such as ChildLine, Watford New Hope Trust, Teenage Cancer Trust, Help a Local Child, Fairy Box and many more.

George Panayiotou – biography


George Panayiotou
Head Of Acquisitions & Developments
The Ability Group

Responsible for finding the best new hotel investment opportunities across the U.K., George has expanded and enriched the Ability Group’s portfolio, facilitating the acquisition of new properties that have been transformed through the group’s unique branding.

Known for his scrupulous research and commitment to the brand’s vision, George began his career, in 2004 as a Junior Letting Agent. Working relentlessly to understand his portfolio of rental apartments, he quickly mastered the art of sales, ensuring that clients’ needs were exceeded and tenants were satisfied. Rapidly promoted to Lettings Manager of Angel Lettings, he headed up the fully-owned subsidiary of the Ability Group, alongside Shaq Chaudry.

Whilst managing the Ability Group’s extensive residential portfolio, George worked tirelessly to maintain the group’s 7,000 residential properties, a realisation of a childhood dream to work alongside his father and assist in the growth of the business.

Following the sale of a significant section of the Ability Group’s East London rental portfolio to the Grainger Trust in 2008, George began to work alongside Malcolm Bell, at the group’s headquarters, to develop the Ability Group’s long term investments and strategy for this new era, in the company’s history.

Seeking new investments

From a real passion of exploring deals and trading property as well as the timing of the sale of the residential portfolio, George carved out a position within the head office to head up the role as Head of New Business development.

Working alongside King Sturge, George began with the phenomenal sale of 600 units to an array of overseas investors in the landmark Ability Place development, in Canary Wharf. With the backing of the Ability Group, George quickly built a team of key agents and property dealers, and continued to attain profitable key investments for the group.

Reaching out beyond the UK and across Europe, George found numerous new properties that could be both profitable and easily integrated into the Ability Group’s portfolio. As a result of George’s vision and commitment to the brand, the Ability Group now own fourteen hotels, across the U.K., increasing the group’s reach and range in the hotel development industry.

George’s successful acquisition of the Cambridge Doubletree, was a significant investment for the company in excess of £30m. Seeing the potential that the hotel had to increase the groups’ portfolio further, George led a £10 million refurbishment, resulting in the beautifully refurbished 123 bedrooms that the Cambridge Doubletree, now offers. As well as repositioning and rebranding the hotel, George also exceeded expectations with the addition of the Marco Pierre White Restaurant on the River Cam on the ground floor of the hotel.

Soon after, George acquired the renowned Hilton Liverpool. Working with Grosvenor the Liverpool One regeneration scheme, was part of the £1 billion project by Grosvenor that saw the Ability Group establish the Liverpool’s first five-star hotel, the Hilton Liverpool. As well as a huge success for the group, the Hilton Liverpool also brought the group investment worth £65 million as well as notable assets acquired during the sale.

Liverpool Hilton

As a committed member of the Ability Group, George is involved in many projects across the group, particularly those that enable him to exercise his passion for design.  As the head of  Interior Design and Implementation for the Ability Group, George directly influences the design of all of the group’s hotels, ensuring that the group’s brand and vision is upheld across all of its’ hotels and operators, preserving the unique experience that the Ability Group offers its’ clients in all of its’ properties.

George’s involvement in the Ability Group’s Marketing and PR department involves promotion of the group’s extensive hotel portfolio, ensuring that promotional materials are  on-brand and effective. Outside of work, George enjoys pursuing his passion for design by collecting classic cars, art and vintage watches.

In recent years, George has been promoted to the role of managing all of the Ability Group’s Acquisitions and Developments. In this position, George focuses on pursuing lucrative investments using scrupulous market research, and his unique eye for potential. With a focus on properties that will enrich the company’s existing portfolio, George has identified many successful opportunities to rebrand, refurbish and reposition hotel developments.  Despite his continued success, George, ensures that every investment is a seamless integration into the brand and contributes to the core values of the Ability Group.

George is known and regarded in the industry as the first port of call for all new investments for the group.

Having built a strong team of agents, brands, operators and designers, George ensures that the Ability Group are at the forefront of all new and exciting hotel developments happening across the UK.

On a day to day basis, George is busy ensuring the group’s high standards are maintained across its’ PR, marketing, design, refurbishment, food and beverage projects, whilst always remaining on the lookout for the Ability Group’s next successful project.

Andreas Panayiotou – biography


ANDREas Panayiotou
Group Chairman, CEO
The Ability Group

Founding the prestigious Ability Group in 1996, Andreas Panayiotou remains the Group Chairman and CEO, thanks to his expertise in property development. Since 1996, Andreas and the Ability Group have realised the potential of the UK and European property investment opportunities through residential, commercial and hotel assets.
For Andreas, his business acumen came at a young age. Thanks to the support of his parents, Cypriot immigrants, who taught him the value of hard work to achieve your aspirations.

As a teenager, Andreas selflessly abandoned his career in professional boxing to help manage his parents’ laundrette business. It was there that Andreas spotted his first potential property development opportunity.

Born and bred in East London, Andreas knew the area well. There was an increasing demand for residential housing in the area. Armed with this knowledge, Andreas turned his attention to the unwanted, dilapidated buildings in the areas where he knew residential housing would thrive. From there, with the support of his parents, he moved their laundrette business into the property development market.

It was this skill of spotting the potential and predicting future trends that made Andreas so successful and the Ability Group a property empire. From the residential sector where Andreas started, he broadened the presence of the Ability Group by carefully investing in other asset classes.

The strategy

The success of the Ability Group is unfounded. It is thanks to Andreas’ eye for potential which led him turning small run-down buildings in unfashionable areas in London and creating outstanding apartment conversions. However, it is his experience and expert knowledge of the market that led him to pioneer the concept of build-to-let in London.
Across Islington, Hackney and Clerkenwell, Andreas saw the trends of the residential market and made his impact quickly, successfully and delivered over a long-term plan. This concept led to the Ability Group having over 7,000 residential units which had a value of over £1 billion.

Andreas envisions the long-term strategy rather than the short-term gains. This makes the Ability Group stand out against other property developers. Instead of selling properties for a quick profit, he uses his experience of the London property market to provide a robust and long-term benefit through build-to-let and property management. While the Ability Group has expanded their focus, they still manage over 1 million square feet across 1,500 apartments knowing that this foresight has allowed the business to grow from strength to strength.

The passion

While Andreas’ eye for potential has been the driving force for strategy, it is his energy and enthusiasm which continues to take the Ability Group to the next level. With a desire and appetite for the ever-progressing industry of property development, the growth rate the group achieved was phenomenal.

Previously Andreas focused on the brownfield sites and using his skills to transform pre-existing buildings into something new, with a higher purpose. However, in 2000,

Andreas took the company in another direction and began his first new build project. The new build project was a development on Kingsland Road, an area Andreas knew well from growing up in East London.

Instead of standing still, the group continued to grow and look for new opportunities. One particular opportunity lay in mixed commercial and residential development in Islington. A major project for the group was the development along Dalston Lane and Central Street in the area. With this, detailed planning and precise application, Andreas and the Ability Group developed over 1,000 new apartments and 50 retail units, revitalising and regenerating the area for local residents.

New direction

In 2007, The Ability Group sold the majority of its residential stock, with a value of over £1billion. This followed up with an acquisition spree of UK and European Hotels, of which we now own fourteen. These include the 2,100 bedroom Club Med in Kamarina Sicily, Premier Inn Glasgow, London Syon Park Hilton Hotel, Doubletree by Hilton Cambridge, Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro, the landmark Liverpool Hilton located within the Liverpool One complex which is undoubtedly Liverpool’s best hotel.

Recent acquisitions include, Doubletree by Hilton Aberdeen, Hampton by Hilton Edingburgh, Park Inn by Radisson Manchester, Park Inn by Radisson Peterborough, Travelodge Southport, Travelodge Newcastle Under Lyme and Travelodge Kings Lynn. We now have a total of 4034 rooms and employ over 3,000 staff across our current hotel portfolio.

By 2020 with our hotel portfolio, developments and commercial assets, we aim to reach a net worth of £2 billion. Our goal is to continue to grow the business and to achieve synergy within the groups brands.

The next few years will prove to be some of the most exciting in our history. We look forward to increasing our scale and efficiency, with our dedicated in-house team and external professional advisors.