Colliers International (E.P.M.C.) has been a trend-setting player on the Antwerp and Brussels market of industrial, administrative and commercial real estate since 1983. Leon Goldwater from Real Estate Publishers, caught up with Frank Valkeneers, Managing Director, Colliers Belgium, to find out more about his company's present and future plans.
"We've been active in the Belgian market for 28 years, originally as European Property Management Corporation until we joined Colliers in 2000. We focus on commercial real estate, especially on brokerage, corporate services and property management. In 1983 we were founded as a property management business, which is still one of our core areas today in the Belgian market. But only in commercial real estate, so retail, offices, and logistics. And the same is true for our brokerage, investment, and corporate services.
Year of recovery
"We had a relatively good year in 2011 compared to some bad real estate years like 2009 and 2010. 2011 was the year of recovery where we did some good deals, and we grew our market share in the Belgian market, which is a very tough and competitive market. The outlook for 2012 is still a bit uncertain because we're facing some serious tax issues. And we don't know yet what the effect is going to be on the real estate market and on our business. Of course the whole Eurozone is causing some uncertainty for real estate at the moment.
"Our company is still locally managed, with local shareholders. We have our local knowledge of the market and local control. We have the flexibility to adapt to the client's needs and the market's needs, and still have the international exposure with the corporate association. Most of our competitors have a top down structure. Our local management set-up promotes entrepreneurship.
"Retail wasn't our focus in the past, but during the last two to three years we've been focusing in on retail, especially on shopping center management, which is something new for us. This adds another dimension to our property management. Not only does this involve the relationship between landlords and tenant, but now a third level, with the clients who are visiting the shopping center. This involves more commercial marketing and promoting."