Q&A: Match - Building On A Niche In WA


From humble beginnings, Lloyd Clark and Cameron Barr did not merely grown their WA-based company into one of the top apartment developers in the State. By remaining true to their vision, they earned a reputation and respect within industry, local government and planning authorities that gives them the unique ability to secure off-market opportunities and good planning outcomes. We spoke with Match Managing Director Lloyd Clark.

Where did it all start for Match?
I was GM of a privately owned property company with some $70million of projects under syndication. Unknown to me, the firm was facing financial difficulty and, with 25 – 30 key investors and three going concerns, I was the face of the business. To my mind, I just couldn’t let the investors down! I negotiated the acquisition of 2 of the 3 projects and turned the situation around. With that Match was born.
How did Cameron become involved?
Ironically, Cameron was GM for a competing company when, in those early days, apartment development was virtually unheard of in Perth. Between the two of us, we had rolled out hundreds of apartments. We also shared the same business philosophies. He was an obvious partner for my new venture.
Why has Match succeeded where others haven’t?
Back then the apartment market was very immature. There were a couple of major players, but most were ‘traditional developers’ looking for opportunities to develop and moving on. From the outset our plan was to become a ‘corporate developer’ with investments in staff, infrastructure, multiple services and boutique product. The vision was always to become a leading apartment developer, and we have never strayed from that.
Surely it wasn’t as simple as having a vision?
The vision was driven by passion and desire. We were young back then and saw a real opportunity to do things better. Naturally ideas evolve and new opportunities emerge over time.

Tell us about the tougher times times?
Property development is based more or less on 2-3 year cycle from an idea to raising capital, getting approvals and, finally, generating revenue from sales. As young people entering the industry, we were coming from a nil capital base and competing against heavyweights with extensive resources and substantial funding. I can’t tell you how hard we worked to make it through the first cycle and, just as momentum was growing and we were about to roll out our second cycle, the GFC hit. While it has been a testing time on the industry, it has also proven up our model and its robust nature. I believe a major economic downturn is a commercial filter, and we have unquestionably come out of the GFC with greater market share.
What has been your design inspiration?
We became passionate about Perth’s streetscapes being swallowed by cookie-cutter apartment design, and the market wasn’t given any choice. We knew our products would not suite everyone, but the appeal for others would be enormous.
How did you carve a position in this environment?
We had a knack of identifying strategically located sites and would take on projects, such as heritage sensitive developments, that larger company’s would see as too complex. Nobody seemed to be doing this in Perth at the time, and we really believed in the approach.
Was there any market resistance to this new direction?
Absolutely none! It was as if the market was starved of unique product and we quickly gained a following of both investors and buyers. Many of our projects sold out before launch and local authorities began to see us as a resource to help reinvigorate their environments.

What projects are you most proud of?

It’s difficult to look past our first significant heritage development, Home

. It really set the bar for heritage renewal in Perth.   It was also a financial success for investors and buyers, with apartment values increasing exponentially prior to completion. Our current heritage renewal of the Fremantle Woolstores, Heirloom, is just as spectacular in terms of design and value potential.
What spurred you to move to an integrated development model?
Vertical integration gives us an edge in terms of project delivery, as we have virtually replaced all outsourcing with skilled and handpicked key people. It de-risks the investment by having total control over delivery. It also maintains quality control throughout the whole process.
Why is niche product so powerful in the current market environment?
Good design and statement developments are always going to compare favourably against the mass production market, as they create their own demand by being a ‘one-off’. People will pay a premium for signature style and great location and, when apartment supply is at its peak, boutique product is rarely impacted.

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