The latest development in Raglan’s real estate news saw Century 21 disappear from Bow Street this week with a bold re-brand to the ‘LJ Hooker’ name.

But while Century 21, which has been around in Raglan for 22 years, is sending its staff down the road it’s only to bigger, brighter premises that will operate under the L J Hooker banner.

As a spokesman for the real estate agency branch told the Chronicle “everything’s the same” except for its new location and new name.

LJ Hooker, an Australian-based real estate master franchise operation may have a smaller global presence than American real estate giants Century 21 but Kyle Leuthart and the rest of the old Century 21 team were in a positive mood this week and looking forward to “utilising” their extra space.

That space comes from combining the floor area of two shops which have gone elsewhere — Soul Shoes, now happily ensconced at the wharf, and Splurge which moved out of town some time ago.

The change in name from Century 21 to L J Hooker is a strategic move, explains Kyle who’s been with the local real estate company for six years. He says L J Hooker — with 80 offices nationwide and 700 throughout NZ, Australia and the Pacific Rim — offers a great deal more in terms of systems, corporate support and wider networking.

“It’s important to have a wide network of offices,” he says.

As part of the L J Hooker chain the Raglan branch retains its trading name of George Boyes & Co, which was always part of — and in town even before — Century 21.

“It’s a very strong rural brand,” insists Kyle.

Geo Boyes, established back in 1906, is the Waikato’s oldest real estate company and one of the three oldest in the country, says L J Hooker Geo Boyes principal and owner Greig Metcalfe.

While the company’s Hamilton office has just been renovated and opens tomorrow (Friday), its new Raglan office will have its official opening at the end of next week.

It was an opportune time — with both the Hamilton office renovation and Raglan office relocation — to change master franchises for “a bigger, brighter network”, Greig says.

L J Hooker had its origins in New South Wales way back in 1928, but its tentacles now spread wide around the Pacific. Major moves into New Zealand have included the 1996 purchase of the Challenge Realty Group and the 2010 acquisition of the Harvey’s Real Estate Group.

Edith Symes