Richard Davies, Cushman & Wakefield

Richard Davies is the Head of EMEA Retail Property and Asset Management at Cushman & Wakefield, the world's largest privately held commercial real estate services firm. Cushman & Wakefield offers a complete range of services for all property types, including leasing, sales and acquisitions, equity, debt and structured finance, corporate finance and investment banking, corporate services, property management, facilities management, project management, consulting and appraisal.

Can you tell us about yourself, your background and your role in the company?

I joined C&W in November 2012 with 16 years of experience in retail property and asset management. My career started in the UK but in 2001 I spent a year in Atlanta, working at JLL’s head office for the Retail team covering the Americas. My role there was diversified; I worked in all departments of the retail sector, from development to leasing and from specialty leasing to corporate business. After this, I came back to the UK and worked on creating and building the profile of shopping center management between 2002 and 2006.

The opportunity then arose for me to go to Turkey and open up an office in Istanbul. A significant number of investors had been reviewing the real estate investment opportunities within Turkey for some years. Then St Martins, a sovereign wealth fund of the Kuwait Investment Authority, acquired Istanbul Cevahir, which was then Europe’s largest shopping center and one of the largest in the world. This fantastic 110,000 m² retail and entertainment center is located in the heart of the business community sector of Istanbul. Managing this center, we were able to enter the market in Turkey, establish ourselves and grow the business.

Following a successful four years, I decided to return to London where I focused mainly on work in the UK. I also assisted local teams with other opportunities in markets across EMEA such as Sweden, Egypt and the Middle East. Joining C&W as the Head of EMEA Retail Property Asset Management seemed a natural step for me to follow a career on a regional scale.

How did the market of Turkey improve your retail experience?

When you live in a country you get to understand all the dynamics, the culture, the opportunities, the challenges and the risks involved in investing in markets. I learned a great deal from living in an emerging market – it helped me understand what investors are looking for, as well as what retailers expect from the market.

Where are the main assets you manage located?

We are located all over EMEA from Northern Europe to the Mediterranean and from Bahrain to Portugal and have €2.2 billion of annual rent across all segments. We manage 16 million m² of assets across the EMEA region and have almost 20,000 tenancies.

Where do you see the main opportunities?

To be honest, we see opportunities everywhere. The end of last year saw strong activity in EMEA and there is continual rising activity in the first half of this year. There are two opportunities for us in this market: the core markets (UK, Germany, France, the Nordics) and emerging markets such as Turkey and Russia. At the same time, international investors have shown increasing appetite for previously problematic areas like the Iberian Peninsula.

What are your immediate goals?

My responsibility is to ensure that we manage effectively for our domestic or cross-border clients and guarantee that the level of service is consistent, no matter where you are across the region. We see the next 12 months as an exciting opportunity for us to grow across the EMEA region. If clients and investors are considering investing in new markets or reviewing their position in the market, I would be pleased to hear from them.

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