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.”