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Experience guarantees success for Cushman & Wakefield Echinox

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By Claudia Ariton
With a staff of over 50 employees, consultants with over a decade of experience in real estate transactions and a turnover of over three million euro in 2016, it's no wonder that Cushman & Wakefield Echinox has become one of the leading real estate agents in the land.
The story of their success is simple. A global provider of real estate services, Cushman & Wakefield signed in 2017 an exclusive association agreement with DTZ Echinox to operate together on the Romanian market. The announcement about this association on the domestic market came after the global merger between Cushman & Wakefield and DTZ in 2015. DTZ Echinox had been a partner of DTZ company in Romania since 2002.
Following the deal, DTZ Echinox changed its identity and became Cushman & Wakefield Echinox, a company specializing in real estate consultancy for investors, tenants and owners in all real estate market segments. Oana Iliescu, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield Echinox, told Business Arena, in an exclusive interview, how this association changed the game for both companies: “The new company, Cushman & Wakefield, relies on and benefits from the experience and resources of two global leaders in the real estate consultancy market – DTZ and Cushman & Wakefield. The association with a strong international partner is crucial, if we take into account that some of the most important active clients in Romania are represented by global companies. On a local scale, we rely on a team of consultants with over ten years’ experience in the field, consultants who have assisted major and complex transactions in the market, but have also been through that contraction phase of the market. They now have the support of a group who has proven its capabilities and creativity in all the corners of the world, offering solutions to a large portfolio of global clients.” Cushman & Wakefield is among the top three players in the world of real estate, with around 43,000 employees in over 60 countries, and revenues of over five billion dollars. Challenged by a frail Romanian economy, the company’s management now wishes to expand its activity in Romania. “We particularly focus on developing our team, especially the office, retail, project management, property management, as well as the evaluation departments,” Iliescu said.

With more than 50 employees at its Bucharest headquarters, the company reached some three million euro in turnover last year. And things can only get better, the company’s management strongly believes. “At the beginning of this year, after the announcement about the Cushman & Wakefield Echinox association, we estimated a 35 percent increase in our turnover for this year. Now, based on the results we have reached so far, we remain confident we are going to exceed that estimation,” the managing director explained. “The office department has seen the strongest performance this year. But good results also came from the land, industrial, capital markets and consultancy departments,” said Iliescu with pride.
All investors, domestic or foreign, keep their eyes on the real estate market when they plan to either expand or establish their businesses. That’s why competition between companies offering consultancy services is fierce and only real players survive. How does Cushman & Wakefield Echinox manage to preserve its place among the strongest companies in this field? Oana Iliescu spills the secret: it’s all about the team. “Cushman & Wakefield Echinox offers a varied range of consultancy services in the real market for investors, owners and tenants. Our services include renting intermediation, property administration, capital markets, investment, real estate asset management, evaluation, as well as project management or market research. But first and foremost, we have the most experienced and united team, coordinating our most important six departments: office, retail, industrial, evaluation, capital markets and residential. With their support, we remain a trustworthy partner and our clients have always had the certainty they can make their decisions based on our recommendations.”

Things have been very complicated in the real estate market though. The economic recession forced many consultancy companies to cut off personnel, to give up most of their marketing activities or even to shut down entire departments. Cushman & Wakefield had its share of challenges during that period too. “When the broker activity crashed, we developed the professional services segment, such as the Property Management or Valuation & Consulting, and so we managed to overcome the financial crisis without much loss, although the turnover dramatically decreased in 2009. But we didn’t have drastic personnel cuts and we managed to keep our main team all these years.”

During all this time, the team has seen a lot of changes in the real estate market. How are things now as compared to ten years ago? “If ten years ago the most dynamic segments were the residential and retail, due to increased consumption, nowadays the most dynamic segments are the office and industrial, whose main driving force is the creation of new jobs,” Oana Iliescu explained.

According to Cushman & Wakefield Echinox, the total deliveries in the industrial segment is likely to reach a historic volume this year, meaning some 450,000 square meters, while in the office segment over 500,000 square meters of new space is under construction now in the Capital and in large cities. “The developers decided to invest in these projects because they had firm requests from potential occupants. That’s the explanation why most projects have a high occupancy rate after delivery,” said Cushman & Wakefield Echinox’s managing director. “While rents for office space and retail have remained relatively constant, this year we have noticed a price increase of some 10 percent in the residential segment, which is confirmed by the calculations conducted by The National Institute of Statistics. When it comes to retail, tenants are mostly looking for places to rent in already famous shopping centers such as Baneasa Shopping City or AFI Palace Cotroceni. As for office space, the western, northern and the central parts of Bucharest are favoured. The same goes for Timisoara and Cluj. For industrial space, the vicinities of the A1 Bucharest – Pitesti highway, as well as Cluj and Timisoara are the preferred locations.”
In the land segment, the combined value of transactions with larger plots reached 127 million euro in Bucharest in 2016, while in the first ten months of this year the sector has continued its development. “Already, there have been transactions with a total value of some 150 million euro this year,” said Iliescu.

These are not the only segments in the real estate market which have experienced sustained growth. “Along with the re-launch of consumption and the explosion of online commerce, the logistic market has been reactivated, after a long period of stagnation. When the highway link between Constanta and Nadlac is completed, along with other highway segments which are now missing, we believe Romania’s position as gate for products entering or leaving the EU will be consolidated, and this is going to sustain demand for logistic as well as for industrial space.”

According to Oana Iliescu, the real estate market in Romania is going through a period of healthy development. In some sectors, the market has already become mature and the level of competitiveness with other markets in the region is very high. “That’s the reason why Romania is becoming a target for bigger investors or companies interested to expand their activities in the Eastern European region.”

The interview is also available in our print edition of Business Arena.

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