Why have Catalyst and Aldwyck merged?

Our shared appetite to grow

Combining with another housing association was part of both Aldwyck’s and Catalyst’s growth strategies.

Aldwyck’s priority was to achieve the financial capacity to build more homes while Catalyst desired a more even balance between its homes based within and outside London. The union will achieve both of these aspirations.

Ian McDermott’s appointment as Catalyst CEO

Ian McDermott, previously Aldwyck Group Chief Executive, was announced as the new Catalyst Chief Executive in July 2018 and took up his role in January 2019, taking over from Rod Cahill.

Ian was appointed as Catalyst’s CEO on the basis of his ability to deliver Catalyst’s objectives in line with its vision, values and culture. There was no thought of a potential alliance at the time. The Aldwyck Board subsequently reviewed its options and decided to consider joining with another organisation before advertising the CEO vacancy. Key considerations were proximity and an organisation with an outstanding amount of capacity to support Aldwyck’s home-building ambitions. Catalyst was best fit and the two Chairs then initiated a discussion.

Ian’s appointment following a period as Aldwyck’s CEO, brings the strength of an allied vision, values, culture and approach.

Synergies in geography

Aldwyck’s current footprint includes Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and its centre of gravity of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. Catalyst has 5,253 homes in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Bedfordshire and other counties.

Significant overlaps include Catalyst having 1,700 homes within Aldwyck’s core geographical footprint. Bringing the two organisations together extends both Catalyst’s and Aldwyck’s footprints to create a strong operation around London.

Focus on purpose and customer service

Catalyst and Aldwyck have a similar sense of purpose. Both are committed to delivering excellent service and creating great places to live. Catalyst’s values – integrity, inclusive, open and caring – sit well with Aldwyck’s – people first, ambition, respect and trust.

Both Aldwyck and Catalyst have an ongoing focus on improving customer service and a merger would allow both organisations to share the work done so far and build on this for the benefit of all our customers.

Great places to work

Both organisations are also strongly committed to ensuring great places to work and see a talented and engaged workforce as key to their success. This is embedded in both organisations’ strategies and values, with Aldwyck retaining its IIP Silver accreditation and Catalyst achieving its Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies status in 2018.

A combined Catalyst and Aldwyck is likely to attract and retain better talent than either organisation can on its own. It will also offer increased career development opportunities.

Wider social impact

Both Catalyst and Aldwyck support residents and communities as well as build affordable homes. Aldwyck has a great track record through its Inspiring Futures Strategy, while Catalyst Gateway provides a range of services – employment and skills, financial inclusion, support for families and young people and community development.

Enhancing resident involvement

As well as providing more much-needed homes, a merged Aldwyck/Catalyst will continue the improvement in working with residents that both organisations are already committed to. This will be reflected in:

  • Relevant reporting on customer service enabling involved customers to effectively challenge and work with us to improve performance
  • A significant and clear voice for residents building on current arrangements (each has three residents on its relevant Customer Service focussed Committee).
  • Ensuring that our diverse communities are equally and appropriately supported and that we take action to include those who are more marginalised.

How the merger is working

Constitution and structure

Both organisations recognised it would be far better to establish a single Registered Provider. Aldwyck has joined Catalyst as a subsidiary and this offers a number of advantages both in terms of speed of execution and enabling both organisations to stay focused on their immediate priorities. As soon as practicable (and within two years), Aldwyck and Catalyst will combine to create a single entity.

Ian McDermott is the CEO of the new Group; the current Chair of Catalyst (Richard Brown) is its Chair; and the current Chair of Aldwyck (Pat Billingham) its Vice-Chair. Three members of the Aldwyck Board (including Pat) have joined the Catalyst Board and vice versa.

Name and location

Catalyst completed a branding exercise in 2018 to give a contemporary look to their brand; and Aldwyck’s name identifies Aldwyck as a local organisation rather than the ambitious Association it is today with a far wider geographical footprint.

It is, therefore, the intention to maintain the Catalyst name for the Group but distinguish between Catalyst Counties and Catalyst London.