Avison Young Opens Office in UK, Launches European Presence

Avison Young has expanded into Europe with the acquisition of NAI Haywards of London.
Nick Cook, of London Office

Nick Cook, of London & Thames Valley Offices

Avison Young, the privately-owned, fast-growing Toronto-based commercial real estate services firm has expanded into Europe with the acquisition of NAI Haywards L.L.P. of London. The company’s first acquisition outside North America, it is part of the firm’s push into Europe and Asia.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Haywards, which has 20 employees, has offices in London and the Thames Valley in the United Kingdom. The firm, founded in 1992, provides full-service commercial real estate offerings, including strategic planning, project implementation, acquisitions, dispositions, development and property and facilities management.

Partners Nick Cook, Tony Oxford, Ian Rackley and Sarah Cook have become principals of Avison Young. Nick Cook was also named managing director of the London and Thames Valley offices. Cook, who has more than 35 years experience as a company owner and founder, executive and advisor, will manage the day-to-day operations, be responsible for recruitment and acquisition and lead expansion efforts in London and the rest of the U.K.

Rackley, with 30 years experience, is a specialist in office leasing, acquisitions and dispositions. Oxford has more than 20 years experience and has been in charge of Haywards’ building consultancy and project management team. Sarah Cook has a legal and financial background and works with clients on mergers and acquisitions, property portfolio management, pension and other benefit arrangements and corporate insurance coverage.

They will also work with Duncan Hamilton, who has served as Avison Young’s Director of Global Client Services since 2012. Based in London, Hamilton oversees international business development initiatives for Avison Young.

Mark Rose, Chair & CEO of Avison Young, told Commercial Property Executive the plan is to use the new London team as the platform to grow in the United Kingdom.

Mark Rose, of AY

Mark Rose, of AY

“We have announcements and plans for other European activities, but Haywards will be the foundation for the U.K.,” Rose said.

Rose added that Avison Young, which follows a principal-led model, wanted to find the right team to begin the firm’s European expansion. They wanted an experienced team with the highest level of brokerage, advisory and property management services that would work well with the Avison Young culture of putting clients first.

“We have a collaborative organization that is working with the clients to meet the clients’ objectives,” Rose told CPE. “If you don’t have the right people on the bus to do that, you don’t have a company.”

Rose also said in a news release that the firms “have similar philosophies and attitudes toward client care. Strong International demand and growth of our global client base drove our decision to open our first European office in London.”

Nick Cook said in the news release that “Avison Young’s desire to remain private and work as one firm, have one P&L, and one set of partners,” was attractive to his company.

“We want to be relevant, attract great people, provide a personal service and be regarded as our clients’ trusted expert,” said Cook. “Operating under the Avison Young banner, we will be able to do all of that – and more – while sharing in the firm’s principal-led, collaborative culture.”

Avison Young’s first foray into Europe comes after five years of aggressive growth in which the company has gone from 11 to 56 offices in 45 markets and from 300 to more than 1,500 real estate professionals across Canada, United States and United Kingdom. Much of that expansion has come within the U.S. In January, Avison Young acquired Mason Partners of Houston, PSB Realty Advisors of Columbus and The Eidson Group L.L.C. of Atlanta. Late last year, Avison Young added a Washington, D.C., area firm, McShea & Co. Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., and a Dallas-based company, Dillon Corporate Services/Cresa Dallas.

Despite the focus on Europe and eventually Asia for new acquisitions, Rose said Avison Young would still be looking at U.S. opportunities.

“We’re very pleased with the 40 offices we have there,” he concluded. “But there’s far more to go.”