British house builder St James Homes is stepping up marketing efforts to attract Hong Kong buyers and investors by setting up a sales foothold in Central. Group managing director Tim Farrow said Hong Kong, with a large expatriate community, was a steady market for buying properties in Britain, especially London. Hong Kong people were always on the lookout for property investment opportunities and London was a favoured market. This trend would continue. St James Homes opened the Hong Kong office in Universal Trade Centre last Friday and it is managed jointly with Hamptons International. Mr Farrow said opening the sales office could cater directly to customers' needs and provide them with all properties available. The British economy was strong which, coupled with low unemployment and low interest rates, would support the property market, although the rate of price growth was expected to slow this year. St James Homes is a joint venture between Thames Water and Berkeley Group, mainly engaged in redeveloping prime brownfield sites across London and the Southeast. It expects to complete about 600 units for the financial year to April. The group has about 2,000 units being built in various projects. Mr Farrow said the company had been growing rapidly in the past few years and turnover was expected to reach about GBP200 million (HK$2.2 billion) for the year to April, nearly double the figure a year earlier. Sales and marketing director Ian Hughes estimated the sale of properties to Hong Kong buyers accounted for about 5 per cent of total turnover during the year. The company hoped the Hong Kong office would help promote sales and build a long-term relationship with customers. This year's marketing programme begins at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel next month, with the exhibition sale of its Canary Wharf, Sea Con development.