Canadian property services giant Colliers International has unveiled plans to double the size of its French office over the next three years while seeking to build up a significant position in the investment advisory space.
Colliers, which currently has a 230 staff on the ground largely focused on the occupier market, has already announced a major hire to spearhead this strategy with the recruitment of CBRE's French investment head Olivier Gérard as CEO, replacing Gilles Betthaeuser, who will become chairman and return to a more client-facing role.
Colliers has been present in the French property market since 2014 when it took over AOS, a real estate and workplace consulting firm based in Paris and founded by mr. Betthaeuser. The company exclusively focuses on the occupier side of the business, with a strong position in the corporate solution space with roughly 300,000 m2 of leasing transactions a year (in a market where take-up stands at an annual 2.4-2.5 millino m2).
‘We are a 4-year old baby and in fact it is incredible what our team has been able to develop over the last period,’ comments Gérard, who brings over 30 years of leadership experience in French and international real estate to his new position. Prior to Colliers and CBRE, he was with Cushman & Wakefield where he held the position of CEO for eight years and before that he spent six years at JLL leading capital markets in France.
Colliers' priority for the French office in the near future is to build up a strong capital markets team by recruiting a dozen investment advisory professionals, adds Gérard. ‘The investment team is virtually non-existent at the moment so we are starting from scratch,’ he says. The investment advisory business is expected to cover all asset classes in the future, from the existing office and logistics business lines to include also a retail-focused and a hospitality team of professionals, he notes. ‘Of course we will have to prioritise. But we don’t care about being the biggest, we want to be the best and have a strong focus on the quality of advisory we deliver to our clients.’
France is headed for the largest investment year on record with some €30 bn of property transactions forecast for 2018. This is a 5-10% on last year’s record volume of around €28.5 bn.
This article first appeared in EuroProperty, the weekly publication of PropertyEU.