The late Neville Lee, who was awarded an OBE for his work in improving the property industry, founded Leaders in 1983, with the company commencing trading on April 1st of that year.
As well as being a prominent businessman in Sussex, Mr Lee was a co-founder of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). He had spent time living in India and had let his home while he was away, which meant he knew exactly what landlords wanted from an agency.
He ran Leaders in its early days from just two desks with two telephones and a lineage advert in the local newspaper. He was appalled at conditions in the lettings industry and vowed to improve matters first through the creation of ARLA, and secondly by offering high-quality lettings experiences to Leaders' landlords and tenants.
Neville Lee was proud to offer a tailored service to individuals and gave all landlords and tenants his personal attention at all times.
Leaders, initially based in Brighton, with its first office based in the city's thriving New Road. In 1985, the firm moved to another office in the same road and by 1988 it had acquired the leasehold to the entire building.
In the very first week in business, Leaders managed to attract two landlords and let two properties, and the original two-man team – made up of Neville Lee and his assistant – pledged never to look back. The organisation soon began to grow, with additional branches opening in Brighton and Hove in the late 1980s.
Another key development came in the shape of the 1988 Housing Act, which opened up a vast new lettings market. Leaders opted to advance its offering to fill this gap in the market and substantial progress followed.
Branches were opened in Horsham, Portsmouth, Fareham, Burgess Hill and Southampton in the first half of the 1990s. At the same time, some branches were relocated to provide staff with larger and more suitable premises.
Rapid expansion followed throughout the 2000s, with landmarks such as the 25th and 50th branch openings reached at increasingly frequent intervals.
This has continued in recent years under Allison Thompson, who became the company's Managing Director in 2016. Allison originally joined Leaders in 1992 as an Administrator in our branch in North Laine, Brighton before working her way through the ranks.
In 2013, Leaders celebrated its 30th anniversary, at a time when many newer agents were struggling to continue or having to reduce their service levels to survive. Today, there are more than 120 Leaders branches across the UK and the company remains keen to acquire new businesses in order to further expand its reach and enhance its range of services.