Titans of Manningham real estate merge

Barry Plant’s Spiro Drossos (centre) with Philip Webb (left) and Anthony Webb.

It is the end of an era in Melbourne’s middle and outer east real estate market – with the Philip Webb brand, which turned 50 in July, to cease, after merging with Barry Plant.

With the agreement, agent Philip Webb will fully retire.

Philip Webb outside his Doncaster East branch in the 1990s.

His son, Anthony, who helmed the company since 2018 will assume a key leadership role with the new firm – Barry Plant Eastern Group – which will almost double in size to 160.

“Barry Plant Eastern Group brings together two of Melbourne’s most successful real estate businesses, the combining of brands will see a stronger, more innovative agency that is dedicated to supporting its clients and community,” Anthony said.

“Whilst we celebrate the merger of two trusted, reputable businesses, this merger also signifies the retirement of my dad…and icon of Melbourne real estate, successfully building one of Australia’s largest privately-owned property management businesses and trusted sales agencies in Melbourne’s east,” he added.

Barry Plant Eastern Group will be led by Spiro Drossos who has directed the agency’s Manningham branch since 2003 and also manages the Whitehorse and Eltham offices.

Competitors with respect for each other: Philip Webb

Philip Webb created the eponymous agency in 1972 – two years after entering the industry – focusing on Doncaster, where Westfield had just opened the complex then known as Shoppingtown.

The businessman invested heavily in property management and rent rolls, according to sources over 25 years ago.

Based for decades at 989-991 Doncaster Road, Doncaster East, he later expanded to Mitcham and Ringwood.

Barry Plant by comparison, created his self-titled agency at Templestowe in 1979 – 10 years after entering the industry as a property manager.

Combined, the agents have since dominated the Manningham sale and lease market.

“We are competitors but with a lot of respect for each other,” Mr Webb said following the merger (story continues below).

“I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for Philip Webb Real Estate and Barry Plant Eastern Group – two trusted and experienced brands which share a very bright future,” he added.

Boom town

Mr Webb said dyslexia thwarted his plan to become an architect – which saw him sell homes instead of design them.

“Diving head first into the industry as a land salesman, the first block of land I sold was for $5600 in Doncaster, which would probably be worth close to $1m in today’s market,” he said when the company hit 50.

“After working as a land salesman for one year, I took a chance and opened my business at the age of 19…with my business partner Jim Reed,” according to the executive.

“Our business started out selling homes in Doncaster East and Lower Templestowe, which was a relatively new region but quickly became popular with the opening of Westfield Doncaster…in 1970.

“The average price for a brand new four bedroom home in 1972 was $22,000, and if you told me then Melbourne’s median house price would surpass $1 million, I would have called you crazy.

“Despite enormous change occurring during my 50 years in business, one thing has remained the same – the reliability of property as a long-term investment.

“Despite what the next six, 12 or 15 months has in store for the industry, a property’s worth will double in the next 10 years.

“No matter how inconceivable it may seem, we have seen this trend in Australia over the last 200 years and I believe the trend will continue going forward”.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of realestatesource.com.au.