Dominvs Group secures first Premier Inn partnership in Milton Keynes

Dominvs Group has secured its first partnership with Whitbread to bring a new Premier Inn hotel and Bar & Block restaurant to Milton Keynes city centre.

The real estate investment and development company has acquired a development site just off Avebury Boulevard, one of Milton Keynes’ main thoroughfares, from Milton Keynes Development Partnership (MKDP). In a key location close to the major motorway networks and Milton Keynes Central railway station, the site will house a 180-bedroom Premier Inn hotel and Bar & Block.

Lee Saywack, Development Director of Dominvs Group, comments: “We are delighted to be working with MKDP and Whitbread to bring more high-quality hotel accommodation to Milton Keynes city centre. The development will benefit from excellent visibility from the busy local roads and is set to become a prominent hotel within walking distance from the central train station.”

Stuart Rose, Acquisitions Manager for the Midlands at Premier Inn, said: “Milton Keynes is a strong and growing market for Premier Inn and our expansion at Avebury Boulevard will bring our sixth Premier Inn to Milton Keynes. It will also be the first Premier Inn in the town to feature our new Bar & Block restaurant brand. Our expansion reflects strong demand for Premier Inn bedrooms from our customers looking to stay in Milton Keynes on business or for leisure trips throughout the year.

“Whitbread is making a significant investment in the new Premier Inn and Bar & Block restaurant and we expect to create between 75 and 80 new jobs on opening, with recruitment focused in Milton Keynes and the surrounding area.  We look forward to working with Dominvs Group on the construction of the hotel and restaurant as we target an early 2020 opening date.”

The Hub’ is located approximately five minutes walking distance to the north east of the site and includes numerous bars and restaurants including Las Iguanas, Zizzi and Pizza Express. In addition, Centre:MK, the city centre’s largest shopping destination, is within 10 minutes’ walk.

Construction will start on site imminently with completion scheduled for 2020.


Avison Young enters into agreement to acquire GVA in transformational deal

Avison Young and Apleona Limited (“Apleona”), a portfolio company owned by global private-equity firm EQT, announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Avison Young to acquire GVA. Avison Young will combine GVA with Avison Young’s existing UK operations. Subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2019.

GVA is a multi-disciplinary business offering clients a service that spans the entire property life cycle from strategy and planning through to delivery and management. The firm has 1,500 employees in 15 offices in the UK, Ireland and Poland. GVA is also a founding member and majority shareholder of GVA Worldwide Ltd., an international organisation of licensed affiliate commercial real estate companies with offices across 25 countries.

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome GVA to Avison Young,” comments Mark E. Rose, Chair and CEO of Avison Young. “This is a transformational event that underpins our ambition and intent to significantly expand our footprint in Europe and beyond. Avison Young’s UK business will now be a genuine challenger brand firmly established among the top commercial real estate advisors in the UK, North America and the world. This acquisition adds gravitas, weight, coverage and profile to our international operations as we continue to solidify our global platform while preserving our culture as a Principal-led company. Avison Young and GVA have complementary businesses in the UK, and this combination of expertise and talent will better equip us to serve global clients.”

Avison Young currently has 2,700 real estate professionals in 85 offices in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, the UK, Germany, Romania and Korea. Upon the closing of the transaction, Avison Young will add 1,500 real estate professionals in 15 offices in the UK, Ireland and Poland. Including GVA Worldwide, the combined operations will have 5,000-plus professionals in more than 120 offices across 25 countries.

Rose continues: “We are incredibly impressed with the strategic positioning of GVA, represented by its depth of consultancy and transactional services and long-standing client relationships. We are excited by the international collaboration potential and the opportunity to continue to build our unique partnership model. This transaction will restore GVA to its partnership roots and provide additional opportunities to cross sell clients across Avison Young in the UK and globally. Moreover, joining forces with GVA will provide us with a greater level of scale and capabilities to fuel our growth to an even wider audience, and offer an expanded breadth of services to our clients. We look forward to welcoming the highly experienced senior leaders of GVA as Principals and owners of Avison Young, and to working with our new colleagues and clients across the globe.”

The scale and depth of GVA’s offering is evidenced by the firm’s 25 business units across the following sectors and disciplines: planning, development and regeneration; land and development; business rates; valuation consultancy; telecommunications; restructuring and recovery; energy and natural resources; lease consultancy; corporate solutions; health; GVA Worldwide; GVA Poland; Second London Wall project management; building consultancy; rights of light; investment; retail, hotels and leisure; offices; London agency and investment; industrial and distribution; automotive and roadside; property management; workplace consultancy; West End management; and asset management.

Andreas Aschenbrenner, Partner at EQT Partners, Investment Advisor to EQT, says: "We are thrilled that we have found the perfect long-term home for GVA in Avison Young, which is committed to continuing the growth strategy that GVA embarked on under EQT ownership. I am confident that GVA and Avison Young together will flourish, and I am excited to see GVA and Avison Young grow further to become one of the leading real estate advisors worldwide. The sale also marks another important step in transforming Apleona into the leading European provider of real estate management.”

GVA has a broad customer portfolio of national and international clients, including UK public institutions, multinational corporations, major space users, developers, owners, lenders and investors.

Gerry Hughes, Chief Executive of GVA, says: “To say I am delighted by this deal is an understatement. We could not have asked for a better outcome for the GVA business, our clients and our staff. We now enter a new era as a key component of a global real estate advisory platform, which will allow us to further flourish and better serve global clients. I look forward to joining the Avison Young partnership and working with Mark, and I want to thank EQT for the support and opportunities it has given to GVA over the last few years.”

The combined operations of Avison Young will have 19 offices and 1,600 employees in the UK alone, working with clients on the transaction and consultancy sides of the business.

“Our approach to growth in the UK continues to be both disruptive and holistic,” adds Jason Sibthorpe, Avison Young Principal and UK Managing Director. “Our focus is always client-centric and our enlarged platform will complement our existing offerings, giving our clients total coverage across the real estate advisory landscape. We intend to continue to invest, and we see great opportunity for further growth in all areas, particularly in the transactional space. The history of GVA spans two centuries, and its rich heritage and longtime employees, combined with Avison Young’s existing skilled team in the UK region, will give us an unrivalled ability to serve all client needs. Our Principal-led partnership model is in the DNA of GVA, and we anticipate great success for our combined businesses.”

Avison Young intends to optimize its capital structure through a recapitalization. The acquisition and the refinancing will be funded through a combination of cash on hand, a committed financing from Credit Suisse, and additional common equity, including participation by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Avison Young’s existing employees as well as issuance of shares to GVA employees who will become Avison Young Principals and certain other GVA employees. Avison Young has ample capital to further invest in its global growth.

Today's announcement follows Avison Young’s announcement on July 16, 2018 that CDPQ, one of Canada's leading institutional fund managers, has made a C$250-million preferred equity investment to accelerate Avison Young's strategic growth plan. Avison Young made its first investment under its strategic partnership with CDPQ by acquiring leading UK firm Wilkinson Williams LLP and opening a new office in London's West End on August 1, 2018. On October 10, 2018, Avison Young opened its first office in Asia, in Seoul, South Korea, with 63 members joining from Mate Plus Advisors Co. Ltd.

Credit Suisse and KPMG LLP are acting as Avison Young’s financial advisors in the transaction; and Gowling WLG (UK), DLA Piper LLP (US) and Stikeman Elliott LLP (Canada) are serving as Avison Young’s legal advisors. BofA Merrill Lynch is acting as EQT’s and Apleona’s financial advisor; and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP is serving as EQT’s and Apleona’s legal advisor. 

About Avison Young:

Avison Young is the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Avison Young is a collaborative, global firm owned and operated by its principals. Founded in 1978, the company comprises 2,700 real estate professionals in 85 offices, providing value-added, client-centric investment sales, leasing, advisory, management, financing and mortgage placement services to owners and occupiers of office, retail, industrial, multi-family and hospitality properties.

About EQT

EQT is a leading investment firm with approximately EUR 50 billion in raised capital across 27 funds. EQT funds have portfolio companies in Europe, Asia and the U.S. with total sales of more than EUR 19 billion and approximately 110,000 employees. EQT works with portfolio companies to achieve sustainable growth, operational excellence and market leadership.

About GVA

GVA is a leading real estate advisory business with 15 offices and 1,500 staff in the U.K., Ireland and Poland. With its in-depth understanding of the market, supported by a leading research capability, GVA advises private businesses and the public sector on the whole real estate lifecycle. GVA is an independent group under the ownership of EQT Partners.

Delva Patman Redler appoints Head of Dilapidations

Delva Patman Redler has appointed Tim Grierson as Head of Dilapidations, joining the firm’s London team.

Tim is a chartered surveyor, working across the building surveying field, with a speciality interest in dilapidations. Joining from Cushman and Wakefield, Tim has advised clients including British Airways, Education and Skills Funding Agency and DTZ Investors.

At Delva Patman Redler, Tim will be responsible for expanding Delva Patman Redler’s dilapidations services. Tim comments "I am greatly looking forward to driving forward the Dilapidations Service offering and working as part of the tightly knit team of specialists at Delva Patman Redler”.

Stuart Gray, Partner at Delva Patman Redler, comments: “We are delighted to welcome Tim to the team. He is perfectly placed to drive forward our dilapidations offering, alongside our specialist rights of light and neighbourly matters teams.”



Dominvs Group secures planning permission for 198-room hotel scheme in Bath City Centre

Dominvs Group has secured planning permission from Bath and North-East Somerset Council for a new 198-room hotel scheme at James Street West in Bath City Centre.

This hotel will offer high-quality accommodation, in addition to a café, bar, restaurant and gym and will replace Bath College’s Allen building, which lies within the city’s conservation area and the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bath and North-East Somerset Council have approved Dominvs’ revised plans for the site, commenting that the changes make a “good building better still”. The council recognises the economic benefits of this proposal, providing accommodation for 57,800 overnight visitors, 100 full time jobs in a variety of roles and a predicted £4.1 million boost to the local economy.

Bath Preservation Trust and Historic England have also welcomed Dominvs’ new proposal, as the 1.4m reduction in the proposed height of the scheme allows the modern contemporary building to be entirely in keeping with the 20th and 21st century context of the site. Dominvs Group is experienced in developing hotel sites at landmark locations that are sensitive to their historic surroundings, with the development of a hotel at Ludgate Hill, in the St Paul’s Cathedral conservation area in its recent portfolio.

Lee Saywack, Development Director, Dominvs Group, comments: “We are delighted that this proposal has been deemed acceptable in both economic and heritage terms. The detail of the scheme has evolved following extensive consultation and stakeholder engagement and we look forward to delivering a high-quality hotel in this exceptional location.”

Dominvs Group to globally launch ‘Motto by Hilton’ hotel concept on Old Marylebone Road

Dominvs Group has secured a deal with Hilton to bring the first 100-bedroom ‘Motto by Hilton’ hotel to Marylebone, London. The new hotel concept is due to launch in 2020 at 233-237 Old Marylebone Road, London. 

                                                                           Motto by Hilton has been launched to take a fresh approach to modern travel culture. A micro-hotel with an urban vibe in prime locations, Motto will offer travellers centrally located hotel rooms that provide a one-of-a kind experience. Cleverly designed flexible spaces, new technology and a quality sleep experience will underpin the Motto concept, fulfilling both the needs and desires of the evolving global traveller. 

 Jay Ahluwalia, director of Dominvs Group, comments: “We are delighted to be taking our ongoing partnership with Hilton to the next level, working together to create the world’s first Motto in London. The Old Marylebone Road site fits perfectly with the new Motto concept, offering an affordable, boutique experience in a central location. I am also personally thrilled to have been invited to shape the brand with Hilton and look forward to creating a global brand together”.

 Christopher J. Nassetta. President and CEO of Hilton, says: “Hilton prides itself on being a leader in the hospitality industry and evolving with the needs of our guests. Innovation is in our DNA, and as we embark on our 100th year as a company, we are innovating more than ever before. With Motto by Hilton, we are bringing to market something the industry has never experienced with its flexible and affordable room product, desirable locations and guest-empowered service.”

 Demolition on the Marylebone site has commenced and construction will start in January 2019, targeting a 2020 opening.


LandInsight set to make site sourcing & team collaboration truly mobile with the launch of its new app ‘LandInsight GO’

PropTech pioneer LandInsight is expanding its site sourcing platform with the launch of a new complementary mobile app ‘LandInsight,GO’, making it easy to find and assess development opportunities.

 The app allows users to save potential sites in under 3 seconds; check ownership and parcel area information for any site, wherever they are, and; initiate assessment immediately rather than waiting upon return to the office.

 Jonny Britton, LandInsight’s Co-Founder and CEO, says: “LandInsight GO is tailor-made for developers and land agents that spend more time out of the office than in. We conducted extensive research into the specific needs of the user when they are mobile, to produce a truly optimised tool. For the first time, property professionals can use their phone to efficiently save potential development sites, collect on the ground intel and insight and make snap decisions on the feasibility of a site.

 The average property professional spends over half of their working life out of the office. Being part of the LandInsight platform means that LandInsight GO instantly syncs all on-the-ground research with the team in your office.

 You can have tens of runners feeding one person in the office with sites, including pictures and personal comments. Using the power of our desktop application in-depth analysis can be conducted in minutes. That analysis is then fed back to those on the ground.”

 When opening the app, LandInsight GO automatically locates their position and asks them to confirm the site you wish to save. The sites are delineated with the official Land Registry site boundaries making sure users preview the site based on its ownership, giving a better understanding of the development potential.

 Jonny adds: “We are really proud of this new tool and our initial test users have been very successful using the app. Just in the last few weeks our limited test group has found 1,500 development opportunities. We have even had enterprise clients looking to roll out the app across their entire site sourcing teams”

 LandInsight GO is available to download now:


Avison Young has advised P\S\L Group Europe on the disposal of its existing office space and the relocation of the business in the West End.

 The medical marketing specialist has sub-let 75 Davies Street, Mayfair W1 to Lodha Developers on a short-term basis to April 2020. The 9,787 sq ft office has been taken at a rent of £50.00 per sq ft.

Avison Young has secured a newly refurbished 4,640 sq ft office at 30 Great Pulteney Street in Soho for P\S\L Group, on a five-year lease at a rent of £59.50 per sq ft, as well as project managing the fit-out for the new space. The landlord of 30 Great Pulteney Street is Sir Richard Sutton Limited.

Knight Frank advised Sir Richard Sutton and also advised Lodha Developers on its acquisition.

Mark Woodford, Estate Manager at Sir Richard Sutton said “We are delighted to welcome P\S\L Group to 30 Great Pulteney Street. They have taken the one vacant floor in the building and will, I am sure, complement our existing tenants such as M&C Saatchi.”


Avison Young opens its first office in Asia

Mark E. Rose, Chair and CEO of Avison Young, the world’s fastest-growing, private and Principal-led, global commercial real estate services firm, announced today that the company has opened a new office in Seoul, South Korea.

The new Seoul office represents Avison Young’s first office in Asia, 85th office globally, and an additional step in the firm’s ongoing aggressive global growth and expansion strategy. Full operations in Seoul will begin on November 1, 2018.

Over the past 10 years, Avison Young has grown from 11 to, now, 85 offices in 76 markets and from 300 to more than 2,700 real estate professionals in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Europe and Asia.

Effective immediately, 63 new members, including brokerage and other service specialists, join Avison Young from Seoul, South Korea-based commercial real estate firm Mate Plus Advisors Co. Ltd. Byoung Gon Choi becomes a Principal of Avison Young’s Seoul Operations and Managing Director of the new office. He will focus on expanding Avison Young’s business-line coverage across South Korea, servicing new and existing clients, and managing the day-to-day operations of the office.

Choi brings 34 years of commercial real estate experience in South Korea to Avison Young, most recently as CEO of Mate Plus Co. Ltd., a leading real estate property management company in Korea; CEO of its affiliate Mate Plus Advisors, which specializes in investment sales, retail, project management, asset management, leasing, research and advisory services; and CEO of Genstar, of which Mate Plus is a key affiliate.

“The opening in Seoul represents another milestone in our global expansion strategy,” comments Rose. “We’re thrilled to be launching our first office in Asia in Seoul as we begin to fulfill our long-sought goal of entering the highly dynamic Asian marketplace and expanding our footprint across another continent. Furthermore, we’re delighted to have Byoung Gon Choi, who is a highly regarded commercial real estate professional, guiding our expansion program in Seoul and the rest of South Korea. Byoung Gon’s ability to foster deep relationships is evident in his previous companies’ geographic and project-type diversity. He understands current market trends and uses that knowledge to provide creative solutions that meet each client’s unique business needs. He and his team, which include leading capital markets and corporate services professionals, have comprehensive knowledge of Seoul’s commercial real estate sectors and can also give clients highly strategic advice on asset management and property management. The new team’s experience and expertise will benefit our clients and company alike. We couldn’t be more pleased to have Byoung Gon and our other new colleagues on board.”

Rose adds: “We believe that Seoul is an underserved market that offers great potential for increased local, national and international investment sales and leasing activity. Seoul, which has a young, highly educated and tech-savvy workforce, is a gateway to China and the rest of Asia. The new Seoul office will also enhance our ability to facilitate multi-market transactions – and sets us up for further expansion within the Pacific Rim.”

Choi will work closely with Hiren Thakar, a Principal of Avison Young and the firm’s Chief Operations Officer, International Operations.

“We were impressed by Byoung Gon’s professional manner in meeting client needs and his proactive approach to commercial real estate brokerage company management and service,” states Thakar. “A well-established industry leader, he and the entire Seoul team will fit well in our client-centric culture. We are already working on developing potential new partnerships and generating client assignments together. Furthermore, South Korea is a stable, rapidly growing Pacific Rim country that has become a destination for investors, landlords and occupiers as they seek to establish a foothold in the region. Each real estate sector is expanding rapidly and has a large, diverse client base. Byoung Gon and his team are experienced in working with international clients and have been successful at completing assignments throughout South Korea.”

 Today's announcement follows Avison Young’s announcement on July 16, 2018 that Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), one of Canada's leading institutional fund managers, has made a $250-million preferred equity investment to accelerate Avison Young's strategic growth plan.

Thakar adds: “The opening of our new Seoul office will allow us to capitalize further on CDPQ’s investment in Avison Young’s strategic initiatives. Our global team will continue to eye additional markets for expansion through the deployment of capital obtained via CDPQ’s recent investment.”

Avison Young made its first investment under its strategic partnership with CDPQ by acquiring leading U.K. firm Wilkinson Williams LLP and opening a new office in London's West End on August 1, 2018.

“We are delighted to join the Avison Young family and be the faces of the company’s first office in Asia,” says Choi. “Avison Young’s entrepreneurial and collaborative culture resonates well with the way we conduct business in South Korea. Our team strongly expects that, by sharing in the benefits of Avison Young’s Principal-led and collaborative business philosophy, we can take our consulting services in South Korea to the next level. Moreover, in co-operation with Avison Young colleagues, we can complete the value chain, providing all types of commercial real estate services to clients.”

Choi adds: “We believe that our clients will be better served by tapping into Avison Young’s global brand and resources. We look forward to working with our new colleagues throughout the company and developing many trans-Pacific partnerships on behalf of our clients. We also look forward to recruiting new top professionals as we expand the firm’s presence throughout South Korea.”

Effective November 1, 2018, Avison Young’s new Seoul office will be located at 9F Samhwa Tower, Eulji-ro-5-gil 16, Jung gu, Seoul, Korea 04539.

Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is located on the Han River and serves as the main gateway and logistics hub for Northeast Asia. With a population of approximately 10 million, Seoul ranks among the world’s most dynamic marketplaces. The region is home to many manufacturing sectors, including steel, electronics, automobiles and auto parts, textiles and footwear, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Other sectors with a strong presence include information and communications technology, financial technology, fashion and construction. International trade also plays a key role in the city’s economy, thanks to South Korea’s status as one of the world’s top exporters. The city’s workforce benefits from low local (5%) and national (4%) unemployment rates (as of August 2018). The World Bank’s latest rankings list South Korea fourth globally for ease of doing business. Seoul’s commercial real estate market features vibrant office, retail, industrial, multi-family and investment real estate sectors. However, the city is also known for its high levels of alternative assets, including data centres, self-storage facilities, student accommodation, education-related buildings and healthcare and seniors-care properties.



Byoung Gon Choi  

Choi brings 34 years of experience in all forms of real estate in South Korea to Avison Young, most recently as CEO of Genstar, Mate Plus Co. Ltd. and its affiliate Mate Plus Advisors Co. Ltd., which offers a full range of property services, including capital markets and investment, industrial, retail, project management, consulting and research.

Since it was founded by Choi in 2015, Mate Plus Advisors has successfully closed 26 outstanding deals in three main business districts of Seoul, generating more than US$5 billion in transaction volume. Mate Plus Advisors is an offshoot of property management firm Mate Plus. Founded in 2008 by Choi, Mate Plus has become a pioneer in the field of property management with more than 140 professionals in offices throughout the Korean peninsula. He initiated a two-year partnership with Colliers International from 2015 to 2017. Upon conclusion of the partnership, he created Mate Plus Advisors to ensure that clients could still have access to a high level of service in a fast-changing market and institutional investors could continue to place their capital in Korea. He was appointed CEO of Genstar in January 2018 after Mate Plus became a key affiliate of the firm.

Choi began his career with Samsung Life Insurance in 1984 and, during 24 years with the firm, served in various departments as head of investment operations, development and management.

He holds a Master’s degree in real estate studies from Konkuk University and Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Chonbuk National University.



Welcome To The Team!

We are delighted to announce Kavitha Nair as our new social media manager. Kavitha is an experienced all-round media professional with a proven track record in social media management, business reporting and custom publishing. Having made the successful transition from journalism to social media management Kavitha is fully trained in setting up and optimising campaigns on all social media platforms, strategising, developing and executing campaigns using smart tools, auditing, analysing and reporting results.

Welcome to the team!

To keep up with us on social media follow @ideas_exposure on Instagram and Twitter!

A new age of retail is upon us - let's get creative

 The ‘death’ of the High Street is sadly not a story we are unfamiliar with. Each month seems to bring fresh news of the retail sector’s financial woes, and even high street giants such as M&S, House of Fraser and Debenhams have been unable to avoid a large number of store closures. Similarly, in the casual dining sector, well-known chains such as Byron Burger and Jamie Oliver have announced the closure of a third of all stores. This trend is not UK-centric as even the infamous Macy’s has confirmed the closure of 150 stores across the US.

But what has caused these companies to rapidly reduce their portfolios? The most obvious answer – technology. Perhaps an overload of it. With so much information at our fingertips, shoppers no longer want to settle for mediocre, we want the absolute best at the upmost convenience. E-commerce has been quick to benefit from this new trend.  

However, gloomy predictions around increasingly vacant lots or pound shops taking over town centres are misplaced. Last week’s Revo 2018 conference was characterised with optimism and excitement for the future of retail. While e-commerce is booming and is expected to grow further, consumers do still want the option of physical shopping. Going into town can offer a social function internet shopping cannot, therefore high streets need to reinvent themselves as social spaces to regain much needed footfall.

How do we create a social space? We make things for the community – places such as parks, libraries, events venues, doctor’s surgeries, things that the community want and need. High streets should not just be a collection of shops that are indistinguishable from the next town. They should be unique places that entertain us and make us want to spend our limited free time there. There needs to be diversity, a mixture of small and large fashion retailers, a range of independent food outlets, beauty salons and sports facilities. These spaces need distinctive design features and good transport links.

Secondly, high streets need to offer a sense of ‘experience’ that online shopping cannot.  Revo speaker, Howard Saunders, spoke of the ‘rise of the brand playground’ and how the most successful stores have recognised that it is not enough just to be a store anymore. Stores need a fun atmosphere where customers are at the centre of the experience – they are venues in their own right.

Dr Martens have reminded consumers of the brand’s musical roots by creating a permanent stage in their Camden store, where anyone can perform. Converse created its 1-star pop-up hotel for one night only in Shoreditch, which featured the latest converse collection, bedrooms curated by guest artists and a series of after-hours gigs. Casper, a mattress store in New York, has even set up its store so each bed is in its own unique decorated bedroom, and has recently developed an insomnia app to connect with troubled sleepers. Engaging with consumers in these innovative ways is exactly what retailers need to do to secure and maintain interest in their products.

And what does all this innovation need? Inventive and flexible retail property that constantly stays up to date with demand and trends. As Steve Dennis, Forbes, 2018 said ‘Physical retail is not dead, boring retail is’.

Investing your time in technology could help you tech care of your business

In the last few months, particularly, the importance of technology is becoming increasingly evident, with many PropTech companies emerging and businesses advancing their digital presence. 

When I first fell into Property PR – and I really did stumble upon it – I didn’t know what PR was and had little knowledge of the property market. The internet was not yet widely used, and press releases were sent out via post. In 2018, however, everything is done online, and news can now be accessed instantly and constantly due to the prevalence of online reporting.  Within Flashbulb, we read the majority of our news stories online via social media or websites. However, there are still many ‘big players’ that still favour traditional print media, such as the Estates Gazette, Property Week and Show House. Yet it remains to be seen how long these publications will continue this approach.

A wise client of ours – a global CEO of a firm of commercial property advisors – said recently that the property industry is lagging behind other sectors by as much as two decades. Property Week’s 2017 Power of Proptech survey found that 48% of respondents thought investment in technology would have a positive impact on their revenue over the next 5 years, 68% of respondents were willing to trial new innovation in their business and 57% of respondents thought embracing new technology has given their business a USP.  However, 47% of respondents said that they were reluctant to accept new technology as they always face teething issues when it’s implemented. A recent survey by KPMG corroborated these sentiments, confirming that while the industry is increasingly accepting of prop-tech, only 33% of respondents have a clear strategy of how to use this technology.

While our client was referring to the industry being slow to adapt to technology, I think it is also a fair comment about the industry’s approach to PR, Marketing and communications in general. Larger companies will have teams of marketing and communications professional – both in house and external consultants. But there are many firms, particularly of small to medium size developers that still do not have any PR function, lacking a website or any social media presence.

 From my point of view, these are crucial tools for a business. What’s the first thing you do when you are about to meet someone, or someone has given you their business card? I know what I do – I do a google search for the company and then look them up on LinkedIn. If you don’t have a company website, there is a perceived lack of standing and this can be harmful for your business when trying to impress a potential funder or bidding on land to develop. You may just get pipped at the post by another company with a more impressive platform or developed social media profile.

 The consensus appears to be that marketing is a direct interaction with existing or potential users/clients and is more of a selling tool. But PR is a general profile raising activity and is seen as more plausible than advertising, particularly as there is perceived credibility through the endorsement of a journalist using the story.

 Within Flashbulb, our strategy has changed dramatically over the last ten years.  From just relying on posting news stories to now using all the avenues we have at our disposal to get our client’s message across the market. In addition to putting new stories out to the media, we need to keep constant content generation in between these stories. We focus on expert comment pieces, commenting within sectorial or regional features within publications and doing standalone pieces that will go on client’s websites. Further to this we use social media to link these stories and articles to a wider audience.

It’s amazing how many people across the industry use social media sites. In our experience, we find the best platforms to use for business promotion and interactions are LinkedIn and twitter. Instagram is also becoming more widely used by businesses communicating to a business audience. While Pinterest and Facebook still have some value, there are more effective for putting your product in front of a consumer audience.

Ultimately, companies within the property industry shouldn’t rest of their laurels. You may think you know all the people you need to know, but when it comes to connecting with new clients, partners and customers, using PR and Marketing saves time and money, reaching a much wider audience than a company and its team could do alone.

 Perhaps most importantly, your peers and competitors that are implementing a structured communications strategy will often find themselves that step ahead of you. In this age of digitisation, Flashbulb and our clients, need to be at the forefront of the digital world, otherwise we will all be left behind.




Avison Young appoints Senior Building Surveyor

Avison Young, the world’s fastest growing commercial real estate firm, has appointed Matthew Burnett as Senior Building Surveyor.

Matthew joins Avison Young from Colliers International. Prior to this, Matthew worked for Cyril Leonard and Bickerdike Allen Partners as a Graduate Building Surveyor.  

He will work alongside Martin Rymer in the Building Consultancy team in Avison Young’s West End office.

Dominvs Group accquires Palmers Green Residential Development

Dominvs Group has acquired the freehold interest in The Fox Public House, Palmers Green, London, to add to its UK residential development portfolio.

 Planning permission was granted in June 2018 for a five-storey residential-led development of 54 one & two-bedroom apartments, along with 38 parking spaces and associated amenity area. The planning permission includes the retention and refurbishment of the existing public house and one commercial unit on the ground floor, which has been pre-let to PureGym.

 The site is located within a predominantly residential area in Palmers Green, just a 5-minute walk to the train station which provides a 20-minute direct link into Central London. The apartments will also benefit from being a stone’s throw away from the high street, with both independent stores and restaurants, alongside the likes of Sainsbury’s Local, Morrisons, Costa Coffee and Little Waitrose.

 Husnell Ahluwalia, Director of Dominvs Group, comments: “Palmers Green has become increasingly sought after by both individuals and families due to its leafy North-London feel, large parks and extensive local amenities. With a current lack of new build stock available in the area, this development will be one of the first new build apartment schemes.”

 Construction of the scheme is due to start in January 2019, with units available to occupy from July 2020.

Dominvs Group was unrepresented in the transaction. The vendor was advised by Knight Frank.

Logicor agrees new long-term lease with Panther Warehousing

Logicor has agreed a new long-term lease with Panther Warehousing at Axis 62, Normanton, Yorkshire.

The specialist, third party logistics operator has taken a 10-year lease on the 215,000 sq ft warehouse, located near Junction 31 of the M62. Axis 62, Normanton is a prime logistics facility providing excellent access to the UK motorway network. Formally let to Poundworld, which recently entered into administration, Logicor facilitated a lease surrender to secure this new letting.

Mike Best, Director, Asset Management at Logicor, says: “We’re delighted to have secured a long-term lease for this building with Panther Warehousing. As an existing customer of Logicor at Crick Road, Rugby, we’re very excited to be working with the team on its next phase of growth.”

Brian McCarthy, COO at Panther Warehousing said “Axis 62, Normanton is a prime facility and is ideally suited for Panther Warehousing’s continued growth. We’re looking forward to working with Logicor as a long-term partner.”

Deloitte, the administrator for Poundland handled the lease surrender and Knight Frank acted for Panther Logistics. Logicor was unrepresented in the transaction.

Two heads may be better than one in a party wall dispute, but should the developer always pay for both?

Aidan Cosgrave, Partner, Delva Patman Redler

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 offers parties to a party wall dispute two options for settling their differences: concur in the appointment of a single agreed surveyor or each appoint their own surveyor. The surveyor or surveyors then settle the disputed matter in an award, the reasonable costs of which are normally borne by the building owner.

Whilst a building owner, particularly a homeowner undertaking a domestic project, may prefer the agreed surveyor route as it is likely to be less costly than if two surveyors are involved, conventional thinking is that an adjoining owner should be free to opt for either route without being penalised on costs. The unreported case of Amir-Siddique v Kowaliw & Anor (18 May 2018), heard by His Honour Judge Bailey in the Central London County Court, reminds the unwary that is not always the case.

In the aforementioned case, the building owner (Ms Amir-Siddique) appealed against the costs element of a party wall award, which authorised her proposed works. She claimed that the adjoining owners (Mr & Mrs Kowaliw) had acted unreasonably by declining to let her concur in the appointment of the adjoining owners’ preferred surveyor as the agreed surveyor and, in doing so, caused her to incur unnecessary cost. She sought an order that the adjoining owners pay all the fees she incurred, including fees charged by the appointed surveyors for making the award (£1,500 inc VAT charged by their surveyor and £595 charged by her surveyor), plus her earlier surveyor’s fee for serving notice (£180).

His Honour Judge Bailey stated:

“The standard practice of requiring the building owner to pay the fees both of his and of the adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor must be subject to two provisos. First the fees in question must be reasonable (see s 10(13))… Secondly, the building owner will not be required to pay the adjoining owner’s surveyor’s costs when these have resulted from unreasonable conduct either on the part of the adjoining owner or the surveyor. The adjoining owner must act reasonably…”

“There can be no comprehensive definition of unreasonable conduct for these purposes. The reasonableness or otherwise of any person’s conduct is to be determined against the background of the relevant facts. There must however always be an objective element in the determination. The conduct of any individual has to be set against the standards to be expected generally throughout society.”

The judge held that:

1. The adjoining owners had not acted unreasonably by not reciprocating the courtesy and consideration afforded to them eight years earlier by the building owner (then the adjoining owner), when they (then the building owners) undertook similar work, and by declining to enter into an agreement outside the 1996 Act that would avoid the statutory party wall procedure and associated cost. 

2. The adjoining owners had not acted unreasonably within the context of the Act by requiring satisfaction on a matter that they would not be entitled to in a party wall context as a condition of their agreement outside the Act. (The matter related to the precise siting of a dormer window that was proposed to be erected wholly on the building owner’s property.)

3. The adjoining owners had acted unreasonably by not permitting their preferred surveyor to act as agreed surveyor, apparently for no reason, when the surveyor himself was willing to do so and they were aware the building owner wished to keep costs to a minimum. The judge remarked:

“The Respondents felt entitled to insist on the “two-surveyor route” but not, in my judgment, on the basis that the Appellant had to pay all the additional costs.”

4. The building owner was liable to pay the fee of the adjoining owners’ surveyor (£1,500), as she would have had to pay that even if the surveyor had acted as agreed surveyor. However, the adjoining owners were liable to reimburse the building owner the £595 fee charged by her appointed surveyor, in light of the fact that the adjoining owners’ unreasonable behaviour had caused the building owner to incur that “wholly unnecessary cost”.

Analysis and commentary

It may seem surprising, on the face of it, that an adjoining owner who opts for the two-surveyor route could be found liable for some of the costs of the award. However, on closer examination of the facts, the judgment is logical.

One purpose of the 1996 Act is to provide an expeditious and cost-effective method of settling any disputes that might arise. Wherever possible, parties should reach agreement themselves, particularly if the proposed works are minor and/or not intrusive. However, in reality, adjoining owners are often concerned that their interests will not be properly protected unless they dissent and appoint a surveyor to settle matters.

The Government’s Explanatory Booklet on the 1996 Act advises building owners who are unable to reach agreement with their neighbour that “the next best thing is to agree with them on appointing … an "Agreed Surveyor"… Alternatively, each owner can appoint a surveyor to draw up the award together.” It advises adjoining owners who are in a similar position, “in these circumstances, and particularly in residential circumstances where surveyor’s fees would significantly increase the project costs, the appointment of an agreed surveyor to resolve the dispute is preferable, especially if the proposed surveyor is not involved in your neighbour's project.”

Often the building owner will indicate, at the time of serving notice, which surveyor they would intend to appoint in the event of a dispute arising and invite the adjoining owner, should they wish to dissent, to consider concurring in the appointment of the said surveyor as agreed surveyor or otherwise state the name of the surveyor they prefer to appoint. At that point, it would not be unreasonable for the adjoining owner to appoint their preferred surveyor and to expect the reasonable costs to be met by the building owner, in most normal circumstances. However, if the building owner wishes to concur in the appointment of the adjoining owner’s preferred surveyor as agreed surveyor, and if the surveyor is happy to be appointed in that capacity, then refusal by the adjoining owner is likely to amount to unreasonable conduct, unless there is good reason.

So what might a good reason be for an adjoining owner preferring the two-surveyor route to an agreed surveyor? The table below sets out some of the factors that might influence the decision.

Factors tending towards the agreed surveyor route include:

·        The works are fairly simple (e.g. cutting into a party wall to insert a flashing)

·        The works are uncontentious (e.g. cutting into a party wall to insert a beam on a padstone or building a wall wholly on the land building owner’s land at the line of junction)

·        The works pose limited risk to the adjoining owner

·        The works necessitate minimal access onto the adjoining owner’s land or are not overly intrusive

·        It is a modest domestic project where surveyors’ fees would significantly increase the project costs

·        The adjoining owner is not planning to carry out work of their own

·        The surveyor is evidently competent and experienced in party wall matters involving work of a similar nature and scale to that proposed, understands the need to be impartial and is willing to act as agreed surveyor

The surveyor has no other involvement in the project or other relationship with either party, which might create a conflict of interest

Factors tending towards the two-surveyor route include:

·        The works are more complex (e.g. excavation, underpinning and/or temporary propping of the adjoining owner’s property)

·        The works are potentially contentious (e.g. involve placing ‘special foundations’ on the adjoining owner’s land, building a new party wall or raising an existing party wall in an unconventional manner)

·        The works pose significant risk to the adjoining owner and security for expenses may need to be determined by the surveyors

·        The works necessitate access onto the adjoining owner’s land that is likely to be very intrusive

·        It is a sizeable project where surveyors’ fees would not disproportionately increase the project costs

·        The adjoining owner is planning work of its own and may need to serve a counter notice

·        One party is unable to satisfy itself that the surveyor proposed by their neighbour has sufficient experience in party wall matters involving work of a similar nature and scale or that they understand the role of agreed surveyor or the surveyor is unwilling to act as agreed surveyor

A surveyor is engaged by one of the parties in another capacity (e.g. project architect, engineer or builder), which might create a conflict of interest

Another consideration, as the Government’s Explanatory Booklet puts it, is “if you have chosen to have just the one surveyor … then there is no Third Surveyor to call upon [if you do not agree with what the surveyor is doing]. This is why you should take care in selecting a surveyor and more particularly as to whether you just need the one ‘Agreed Surveyor’.”

Whichever route is chosen, while costs (fees) may be a consideration, it should not be the prime motivation for the selection of any surveyor. Competence and experience are key, as once the appointment is made it cannot be rescinded!

Read the judgment on the website of Nick Isaac of Tanfield Chambers.

Delva Patman Redler makes Rights of Light appointment

Delva Patman Redler has appointed Jessica Rhodes to join its London-based Rights of Light team as Senior Surveyor.

Jessica has previously held senior roles with GIA (Gordon Ingram Associates) and JLL. While focusing on neighbourly matters as a whole, she has specifically worked in rights of light, developing a niche speciality in negotiations having de-risked development sites successfully around the country, working with clients and adjoining neighbours.

Stuart Gray, Partner of Delva Patman Redler, comments: “Jessica’s prior experience has required her to work with a wide range of clients such as major developers, local authorities, housing associations and private individuals. She will be an asset to the Delva Patman Redler team.”

Avison Young acquires Wilkinson Williams LLP

Avison Young acquires Wilkinson Williams LLP

Avison Young, the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm, announced today that it has acquired Wilkinson Williams LLP.

Jason Sibthorpe, Avison Young Principal and Managing Director of the firm’s UK region, comments: “We look forward to adding Wilkinson Williams’ retail expertise to our comprehensive UK business-line coverage. The new team prides itself on being the retail market leader in its space and has developed incredibly close relationships with clients – many of whom have relied upon the firm since its inception. Retail is, perhaps, the most challenged real estate sector, and it is crucial that we are able to provide our clients with intelligent and integrated advice that responds to disruption and technological challenges with innovation and educated foresight. Our clients rightly demand and expect informed advice that clearly demonstrates added value and holistic solutions.

“Wilkinson Williams has been leading the way for many years in the retail sector and will add fantastic gravitas, capability and coverage to our rapidly growing UK and global operations.”

Since its inception in 1991, Wilkinson Williams has been the leading advisory specialist firm acting in the UK’s out-of-town market. Wilkinson Williams represents many leading landlords and tenants across the UK, providing expert advice on all aspects of their respective retail warehousing and food-store property needs. The business has focused solely on the out-of-town retail sector within the UK and prides itself on its deep market knowledge, which is underpinned by a genuinely integrated approach involving investment, agency and lease advisory services. For the past eight years, Trevor Wood Associates has named Wilkinson Williams as the No. 1 retail warehouse property leasing agent in the research firm’s Definitive Guide to Retail and Leisure Parks publication. Wilkinson Williams is currently instructed on more than 21.5 million sq ft (2 million sq m) of accommodation. In 2017, Wilkinson Williams advised clients on investment transactions with a combined value of approximately £580 million.

Wilkinson Williams will be rebranded as Avison Young, and 16 new members will join from Wilkinson Williams. Miles Marten, Paul Wilkinson, James Potter, Grant Imlah, Mark Phelps, David Marsden, Paul Simpson and Peter Phillips will become Principals of Avison Young. Marten and Wilkinson focus on investment advice; Potter, Imlah, Phelps and Marsden on agency leasing; and Simpson and Phillips concentrate on lease advisory services.

Also joining Avison Young from Wilkinson Williams will be: Ellie Kirby and Andrew Cherry as Directors; George Stratton and Jack Lloyd as Associates; and Jo Monaghan, Adele Colley, Donna Roberts and Jon Gilmore as office administrators.

Miles Marten, Managing Partner of Wilkinson Williams, comments: “Avison Yong has provided us with a unique opportunity to integrate our business with a like-minded firm that concentrates on providing high-quality advice to clients. The approach of Avison Young, as a business owned and managed by its Principals, is almost unique in a market dominated by large corporations – and was a major attraction to us. We look forward to continuing to grow our business throughout the UK with the support of a larger company with international reach and to be part of its continued expansion. We also believe this move will provide an exciting environment for our talented younger members – and one where they will be able to share in the success and growth of Avison Young.”

Over the past nine years, Avison Young has grown from 11 to, upon the closing of the Wilkinson Williams transaction, 84 offices in 75 markets, and from 300 to more than 2,600 real estate professionals in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Europe.

Mark E. Rose, Chair and CEO of Avison Young, says: ““The acquisition of Wilkinson Williams represents another significant milestone in the growth of Avison Young and further underlines our progress towards becoming a market-leading real estate advisory business across all sectors and disciplines in the UK. This acquisition is another example of how our Principal-led partnership structure and collaborative culture allow us to attract and deliver talent of the highest calibre. Furthermore, the addition of 16 members will greatly strengthen our existing high-performing UK team.

“The Wilkinson Williams team will provide clients with fully integrated services in the retail sector, including investment consultancy, occupational and asset management advice, rent review and lease-renewal advisory services. This acquisition will ensure that we have market-leading capability in the retail service line, providing us with intelligent insight and market knowledge at a national level. The new Principals are well-respected leaders within the retail industry, and their combined experience and approach to the delivery of client projects will be extremely beneficial to Avison Young as we continue to execute our strategic growth plan throughout the UK.”

Avison Young’s new London West End office will be located at Heathcoat House, Saville Row, London, W1. The new office will represent Avison Yong’s second office in London West End, fifth office in the U.K, 11th office in Europe, and an additional step in the firm’s ongoing aggressive growth and expansion strategy.

“When completed, the acquisition of Wilkinson Williams will establish another benchmark in the expansion of our rapidly growing international operations,” says Hiren Thakar, Avison Young Principal and COO, International Operations. “By opening a second London West End office, we will continue the trend of rapid growth in the UK through high-end services for clients. The incoming Principals are not only high achievers, but great partners. Their addition will offer us another opportunity to provide clients with additional services in the UK, Europe and globally as we widen our retail platform by providing expanded services for occupiers, investors and asset managers alike.”

Avison Young entered the UK market in April 2014 when it acquired London-based commercial real estate services firm Haywards LLP and opened offices in London’s West End and Thames Valley. The firm widened its UK footprint in January 2016 by expanding to the Midlands with the opening of an office in Coventry through the acquisition of North Rae Sanders. In August 2017, Avison Young acquired WHR Property Consultants LLP and opened an office in Manchester.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of Avison Young announcing on July 16, 2018 that Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), one of Canada’s leading institutional fund managers, has made a $250-million preferred equity investment to accelerate Avison Young’s strategic growth plan.

“The acquisition of Wilkinson Williams represents the first scheduled investment under our new strategic partnership with CDPQ,” says Rose. “We’re looking forward to making more acquisitions in the UK and globally as we accelerate our strategic growth plan on the strength of the private-equity investment funds provided by CDPQ.”

Avison Young acquires Newbury Retail Warehouse investment for CBRE GI

Avison Young has acquired the freehold interest in a prime development in Newbury on behalf of a client of CBRE Global Investors. Purchased from Travis Perkins for £6.35 million, the transaction represents a net initial yield of 4.86%.

The newly constructed retail warehouse and trade counter development, located on Hambridge Road, Newbury RG14 5EA, comprises two units totalling 37,869 sq ft (3,518 sq m). The estate is multi-let to three tenants, with the majority of the income secured to Wickes Building Supplies Ltd. The property provides an annual rental income of £329,500.

Mark Holliday, Principal of Avison Young, comments: “This represents an excellent acquisition for our client CBRE Global Investors, furthering the funds exposure to secure income assets underpinned by promising rental growth.”

Darren Screen, Property Finance Director for Travis Perkins, said, “This scheme is anchored by two of our key subsidiaries. As with other recent sales, the capital will be recycled back into the business in line with our stated Group objectives.”

HSM and Herbert Smith Freehills acted on behalf of Travis Perkins plc.

Avison Young is the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Avison Young is a collaborative, global firm owned and operated by its principals. Founded in 1978, the company comprises 2,600 real estate professionals in 84 offices, providing value-added, client-centric investment sales, leasing, advisory, management, financing and mortgage placement services to owners and occupiers of office, retail, industrial, multi-family and hospitality properties.