26 March 2018 – ProOrbyt Expansion
Interview Adolfo Ramírez-Escudero – President of CBRE Spain: “We always actively analyse opportunities for acquisitions at a local level, but we are more focused on organic growth.”
Adolfo Ramírez-Escudero took the reins at Spain’s CBRE in 2013 with ambitious plans and a firm objective: to get a leg up on its competitors as the real estate market was waking up from a long and fitful slumber. Almost five years after his appointment as president of the consulting firm, and after reaching the end of the first stage of his business plan, Ramírez-Escudero fully intends to keep up the pace.
“In 2013 we started on a very aggressive growth plan. Our ambition then was to double the size of the company in all aspects: turnover, hiring and profits. We achieved that goal before our target of 1,000 days. The current plan entails multiplying the figure we reached by another 150%. Which means we’ll have tripled the size of the company in six years.”
Therefore, CBRE, which ended 2017 with a turnover of 211 million euros and a workforce of more than 1,000 employees, after hiring an additional 200 workers, is expecting annual growth of 13% until the end of 2019.
“In Spain, we have been a leader for years, and though we haven’t rejected the possibility out of hand of acquiring talent or buying companies, we have experienced significant organic growth,” the executive explained.
However, considering the consolidation process that the sector is undergoing, and after the mergers of Aguirre Newman with Savills, and Irea with Colliers, Mr Ramírez is willing to analyse any opportunities. “Our non-organic growth strategy has been more focused at the regional or global level, but we are always actively seeking local opportunities, and one can never know if we may decide to pursue any one of them,” he stated.
Ramírez-Escudero acknowledges that the real estate market’s current momentum has contributed to the group’s growth in Spain but, he points out, “our growth has exceeded that of the market as a whole. We are a global company and are not wholly dependent on Spain. We work with clients from all over the world, as well as with major tenants. Properties do not simply disappear, and we must always manage them. When the market enters a corrective phase, some assets are passed on to the banks, which must manage them. Later they are once again sold off to investors. Obviously, we prefer to operate when the cycle is on the upswing as the market is more amenable to targeting significant growth, but when that is not the case, we can also maintain growth by applying appropriate measures.”
According to the executive, understanding the market implies being conscious of competing in an environment in which borders are increasingly blurred. “This happens in all sectors and even more in real estate, which is very capital intensive,” he added.
An exception is the development business, which has a more local component. “Economic rationality and the search for advantages in production are telling us that the market is currently highly fragmented, and will likely undergo a measure of concentration,” the executive said.
Mr Ramírez-Escudero also referred to other types of assets such as offices and shopping centres, where the level of supply and demand is changing. In his opinion, offices are increasingly resembling the hotel industry in that a company’s productivity is linked to their employees’ level of satisfaction. For its part, the retail market is also changing, but that there are “opportunities” associated with that. He adds: “People who say that they do not fear a change in the retail sector are misleading themselves in the same way that the people who believe that shopping centres are finished. We are operating in an ever-changing, varied environment and the shopping centres will have to adapt.”
Original Story: ProOrbyt Expansion – Rebeca Arroyo
Translation: Richard Turner