Commercial real estate firm Colliers Canada recently launched a new initiative, the Colliers Strategy & Consulting Group. The company says it’s a tailored blend of advisory and consulting services to help clients realize additional value from their assets and optimize the performance of their real estate portfolio.
The new business line is being led by David Bowden, former CEO of Colliers Canada and a veteran of the industry with more than 40 years of commercial real estate experience.
“It is currently an amalgamation of different professionals within the Colliers Canadian business, focused on three areas – strategic advisory, workplace solutions and development management,” says Bowden. “There are about 45 people that will be in the group to start and that’s just internal shuffling. And then we’re actively out recruiting for additional professionals.
“Our target market is to help investors. It is to help corporations and it is to help institutions.”
The new initiative will serve Canada through four main hubs – Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.
“It’s an extension of what we’re already doing but we’re trying to apply more rigour, more growth to it,” says Bowden. “And it’s really focused on either large complex individual projects or portfolios depending on the need of the client. Certainly over the last many years real estate has become more valuable, projects are generally bigger, they’re more complicated, there’s more risk associated with them, (they) require more stakeholder engagement, capital requirements are greater.
“It’s an opportunity to harness a group of people within the organization, bringing them together so it’s easier both internally and externally to access both the skill set and the data sources to deliver hopefully better recommendations,” he says.
The initiative is a natural extension of Colliers’ integrated, client-centric approach and leverages the team’s expertise, scale and resources in the commercial real estate sector.
“As COVID-19 continues to transform the commercial real estate industry, our clients are having to re-imagine the way their assets are being utilized to minimize risk and provide optimal value,” says Brian Rosen, president and CEO of Colliers Canada. “Now more than ever, there is a need for commercial real estate advisory and consulting services to help organizations navigate a rapidly changing environment.
“The Colliers Strategy & Consulting Group positions us well to respond that we can remain responsive to evolving client needs and emerging market opportunities,” says Rosen.
The group will have access to Colliers’ extensive proprietary databases, which provide accurate and timely supply and demand information, allowing the team to help validate a strategy and assess feasibility and risk, the company says.
Bowden says the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated things that were already happening. An example would be repositioning an asset that might not be in its highest and best use.
“The more specific example is that there are a number of retail assets that may be better suited to be something different than they are today. And then the question is what should it be,” he says. “Establishing what the right workplace strategy is and certainly what COVID has done has put a spotlight on the idea of blending both physical premises along with mobile offices. So that needs to be thought through.
“There are a lot of organizations, as a result of the financial implications of the pandemic, that are going to be challenged to meet their operating budget but might have latent real estate assets that could be utilized to bolster their operating budget.”
The new group will be applicable to all real estate sectors, with each having uniquely specific needs.
Bowden says Colliers has the largest commercial real estate strategic advisory consulting group in the country.
“Our lens for everything that we do will be focused on real estate first. We’re really focused on large complex projects or portfolios,” he says.
“One of the challenges that organizations have is the access to both supply and demand information. The supply information is generally more readily available. We have unparalleled access to the demand information – demand would be for employees and tenants and how are their needs changing and what are the things that they most covet today?
“Because of the property management portfolio that we manage, some 8,700 tenants are based in that. We have a robust tenant representation business. We have a robust property sales business. So not only do we know the statistics, we also know the back stories about why things happen.”