Avison Young to acquire WHR Property Consultants LLP, open new office in Manchester, U.K.; 35 members to join Purchase will widen Avison Young’s U.K. footprint, add four new Principals
Toronto, ON – Mark E. Rose, Chair and CEO of Avison Young, the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire market-leading U.K. firm WHR Property Consultants LLP (WHR) and open a new office in Manchester. Subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close within 30 days.
The Manchester office will represent Avison Young’s fifth office in the U.K, 11th office in Europe, and an additional step in the firm’s ongoing aggressive growth and expansion strategy.
Over the past nine years, Avison Young has grown from 11 to, upon the closing of the WHR transaction, 81 offices in 73 markets, and from 300 to more than 2,600 real estate professionals in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Europe.
WHR is a multi-disciplinary commercial property consultancy firm with a wide range of offerings, including industrial and office agency, capital markets, property management, asset management, rating and professional services.
The firm was founded in 2004 by a group of Manchester-based property professionals. The goals of the partnership were to provide high-quality integrated property consultancy to customers including institutions, property companies and high-net-worth individuals. The partnership developed a strong market presence in the North West, with a focus on Manchester’s city centre, and has been involved in many high-profile property transactions within the region. The firm has provided complex professional and consultancy services over the years, including some ground-breaking appeals in the area of business rates, to a wide variety of national and international clients.
Effective upon the closing of the transaction, WHR will be rebranded as Avison Young and 35 new members will join from WHR. Mark Williams, Gareth Buckley, Mike Rooney and Dan Crossley will become Principals of Avison Young.
Williams also will become Managing Director of the new Manchester office and will play a leading role in the company’s strategic expansion in the North West region while managing the day-to-day operations of the office. He also will continue to work closely with Buckley, Rooney and Crossley and collaborate with Principals across the company.
“We’re thrilled to welcome the WHR team to Avison Young and open a new office in Manchester, which will provide us with a centre of excellence in the dynamic North West marketplace and expand our footprint in the U.K.,” comments Rose. “The new Manchester team prides itself on close relationships with clients, many of whom have relied upon the firm since its inception. This acquisition is another important milestone in the expansion of our rapidly growing U.K. operations. Avison Young will provide the new team’s clients with a countrywide service offering that spans the entire property lifecycle. In addition, we’ll provide North West clients with access to overseas markets and global resources.”
Rose continues: “The WHR team will enable us to further bolster our service offering and provide us with insight and market knowledge at a local level. Mark, Gareth, Mike and Dan are well-respected leaders within the North West commercial property industry, and their combined experience and approach to the delivery of client projects will be extremely beneficial to Avison Young as we continue to execute our strategic growth plan throughout the U.K. Moreover, the addition of 35 members will further strengthen our existing high-performing U.K. team.”
Effective upon the closing of the transaction, Avison Young’s new office in Manchester will be located within the central business district at The Lexicon, 9th floor, 10 Mount Street.
“We are committed to rapid and intelligent growth in the U.K. as we add businesses and talent that align with Avison Young’s culture and client-centric model,” states Jason Sibthorpe, a Principal of Avison Young and Managing Director of the firm’s U.K. region. “Our approach is both disruptive and holistic, starting with client needs and business objectives – not with real estate. The acquisition of WHR is tremendously exciting and gives Avison Young significant regional presence and profile, underlining our commitment to deliver a full-service real estate platform in all of our markets. Furthermore, the new WHR team is a perfect match for us, as the members are focussed entirely on delivering added value for clients – an approach that mirrors Avison Young’s client-centric, Principal-led culture.”
Avison Young entered the U.K. market in April 2014 when it acquired London-based commercial real estate services firm Haywards LLP and opened new offices in the London West End and Thames Valley. In December 2015, the firm opened an office in the City of London, and further widened its U.K. footprint in January 2016 by expanding to the Midlands with the opening of an office in Coventry through the acquisition of North Rae Sanders.
“By bringing WHR under the Avison Young umbrella, our mutual clients will benefit greatly from our extended geographic coverage, expertise and investments in supporting clients,” says Hiren Thakar, Avison Young’s COO, International Operations. “We are delighted to welcome a well-respected team that aligns with our culture of honesty, integrity and genuine partnership. We are proud to welcome four new Principals who, along with the wider business will add significant capability, leadership, aspiration and ambition to our U.K. operations.”
According to Williams: “While we are proud of WHR’s achievements and growth to date, we do recognize that the future growth of the business will require a stronger national and, importantly, international brand. When we were approached by Avison Young, we were impressed with how closely our companies’ philosophies aligned, and felt confident that our well-established regional presence would be enhanced by joining a larger firm with strong U.K. and international client bases. We feel that this move is particularly important in the context of Manchester and the North West of England, as we are seeing real estate become an increasingly globalized commodity.”
He adds: “Crucially, we were attracted by the culture of Avison Young and the company’s structure, which enables employees and Principals to work together in partnership to grow the business with a collegial approach to decision-making. We look forward to collaborating with our new colleagues throughout the company as we serve clients on a local, national and international basis.”
The Greater Manchester area is the second most populous urban area in the U.K. with a population of approximately 2.6 million, which includes Manchester as well as several cities. Manchester is the largest and fastest-growing economic region outside London and is home to 65 of the FTSE 100 companies, with internationally recognized strengths in finance, life sciences, engineering and digital and creative sectors, according to the Meetings Industry Association (MIA). The Manchester region also has a strong industrial and logistics market with approximately 60% of the U.K.’s population being based within a 2.5-hour drive of the city, according to a national census.