THE BROLL PROPERTY GROUP

Since its formation, the award-winning Broll Property Group has expanded its global footprint across African borders and, together with its subsidiaries, adds value to countless investors and businesses throughout Sub-Saharan Africa

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Established in 1975, the property services company was initially based solely in South Africa. After the 1994 elections, they took the decision to expand beyond South Africa, which still remains the heart of the business and this strategy has proved to be a huge success.

Today, they have expanded to 14 countries across the continent with three main hubs in the East, West and South. “Seventy-five percent of our people operate in South Africa, 25% outside the borders of South Africa, with our core hubs being Johannesburg, Nairobi and Lagos, says Malcolm Horne, Group CEO.

“We have evolved our service lines to serve the needs of both investors and occupiers of space.

Broll offers services, which include auctions and sales, facilities management, industrial, investment and office broking, occupier services, property management, retail leasing and projects, research, shopping centre management, valuation and advisory services, own-patented Broll-Online property-management software solutions and a propert search function with a vast database of commercial property listings, says Horne.

“In addition, we offer tailor-made integrated services for occupiers that include experienced property professionals for all portfolio requirements: transaction management, strategy, data management, estates management, project management and facilities management,” he says.

In terms of the drivers of their business, Horne says that, traditionally, their property management services receive the biggest uptake north of the border but with these markets developing, there is a large demand for their facilities management, occupier services as well as valuation and advisory services, which has seen a dramatic uptake in the past 18 months.

“The three biggest service lines currently in our business are property management, which accounts for about 25%, occupier services and facilities management accounting for 30% each respectively,” he explains.

While the continent offers expansion opportunities, these along with challenges vary from country to country and not one country in Africa is like the next. It is for this reason that Broll takes a very focused and localised approach.

The business is very “proud of our efforts on local empowerment”, proving that we can deliver international standards with local talent. However, it has taken years of hard work and investment into our infrastructure to achieve this, points out Horne. Broll is committed to creating employment opportunities on a continent where unemployment levels are high. “We are also proud Africans promoting Africa to the international markets,” says Horne.

Real estate investments

With regards to property prices, Horne explains that prime real estate in most markets will hold their value and be priced accordingly. “As with anything in life you pay for quality. For prime real estate in Africa, you’re going to pay a price, which will reflect the scarcity of a prime product—it will not be a bargain and that’s like anything else other than property anywhere else in the world,” he says.

Additionally, a long-term investment approach should be taken with real estate, investors and occupiers with this approach are well-suited for Africa and these are the types of partners that we target.

“Many of our clients are those long-term investors and developers who are putting entrepreneurial developments together and developing the real estate markets in these countries. These initial developers hold these properties for a few years and then dispose of them to long-term holders of these properties,” says Horne.

In terms of the latest developments, from a services point of view, Horne says they’re monitoring the trends in cities.

“New cities, new people, new opportunities—urbanisation is a well-talked about topic but people are moving into these, call them gateway cities and this creates an opportunity for real estate.

“Whether it’s housing, hospitality, commercial, shopping centres or redevelopments, thus, people create opportunities that excite us,” he enthuses.

Horne says it’s not just a question of moving the people, it’s to understand the people who are moving into these cities, understanding what employment opportunities are associated with urbanisation, understanding how that disposable income can translate into retail opportunities—we’re excited about this movement and urbanisation of cities because hopefully, job creation in these cities results in real estate opportunities.

The lines between government infrastructure and property are blurring, which bodes well for the industry.

“To bring real estate into a country or city needs infrastructure development and for the first time, we’ve seen private equity players talking to governments and developers creating real estate opportunities.

“That’s a great thing because it shows there is commitment from private and government to work together to unlock the opportunities that exist. These discussion forums are happening in a serious manner, which is fantastic and will lead to accelerated development,” he says.

Horne notes that there is also a greater demand for green buildings and the sustainability elements in building from both local and international occupiers. Office blocks are being built with energy and water efficiency in mind. Shopping centres are also greening as far as energy is concerned with increased installation of solar panels to power these buildings.

International partnership

Broll entered into an affiliation with CBRE, the leading global real estate services provider to the commercial, industrial, retail and investment markets. Horne says that in 2004, they identified the trend for multinationals coming into Africa looking for professional advisors to assist them with their journey into the continent and they believed that to be affiliated to a global player was the best strategy to adopt at that time. Currently, he says Broll acts on behalf of CBRE across Sub-Saharan Africa.

“We find it’s a good partnership as we add the local content and local best practice as well as add international best practise—a winning combination. What we offer is very solution-based on international standards and best practices in a local environment, which gives one a lot of hope for the real estate sector, as the foundations that are being laid are world-class,” Horne explains.

Industry support and sponsorships

Broll has been a proud supporter and sponsor of the Africa Property Investment Summit & Expo (API), Africa’s largest and most premier real estate event, since its inception. This year, they were a Platinum Sponsor at the event, which took place last month. The Group is the Platinum Sponsor for the upcoming West Africa Property Investment Summit to be held in November in Lagos Nigeria and was also the Platinum Sponsor for the East Africa Property Investment Summit held earlier this year in Nairobi, Kenya.

Horne explains that, due to the fact that they were among the pioneers in Africa and within the industry and because of the need for a consolidated Africa-driven event for property investors/occupiers and professionals within the property industry, they believed in the need to promote the African story by correctly positioning Africa as a place to do business by telling the true story of African development and risk.

“Globally, the property industry goes through cycles and I think, for us, it’s about educating the market that these cycles are part of a healthy and developing market place—it’s natural and it’s normal.

“I am passionate about telling the African story—we travel into Africa and we believe in the future, in the development, the talent and the people of the continent.

“I think if you fast-forward five or 10 years, you’re going to see a continent that’s vastly different to what you see today,” he explains.

The Group is also the proud sponsor of the 21st South African Council of Shopping Centre Annual Congress, which was held in September. Horne describes it as the continent’s premier conference where discussions are held around the retail industry, investors, occupiers and service providers.

This year’s conference focussed on the uniqueness of the industry, the various roles that need to be played and how collaboration can take the industry to the next level.

Award-winning brand

Broll won 13 awards at last year’s Euromoney Real Estate Awards and have been awarded at this ceremony for three consecutive years in a row.

“I attribute the success of the business to our people and our passion to succeed the basic principles they apply,” he says, pointing out that the business is run with purpose and they always try to ensure that everyone knows they have an important role to play.

“We treat everyone with dignity, we value their contributions and we help one another to succeed.

“Being truthful, reliable, honest, living today for tomorrow, growing in respect of people, doing things right.

“Let’s talk, let’s do, let’s create amazing moments and let us experience the opportunity of Africa,” he says.

“Technology is one of our key drivers of advantage in the business. Broll has invested in a highly-skilled IT division dedicated to developing their software solutions.

“This allows us to be nimble, enabling us to act with speed and agility in new and existing markets—we’re very proud of that,” he says.

In terms of future expansion, Horne says they’ve exceeded their basic expansion plans.

“We’re going to be going where our clients go and where opportunity exists. Currently, we’re expanding in Mauritius and Madagascar and East Africa quite aggressively.

“Being a solution-driven enterprise, we focus and cater to the needs of our clients and wherever that economy is going to be growing or that opportunity exists, we hope we will be involved in finding solutions,” he concludes. ▲

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