CBRE looking to the future after management buy-out of Belfast office

The CBRE Northern Ireland team of Gerard McCann, Brian Lavery and Robert Ditty. Picture: Matt Mackey/PressEye
The CBRE Northern Ireland team of Gerard McCann, Brian Lavery and Robert Ditty. Picture: Matt Mackey/PressEye

FOLLOWING the recent management buy-out of CBRE’s Belfast office from CBRE UK, the Northern Ireland management team says it is looking ahead to future growth.

Led by Brian Lavery, Robert Ditty and Gerard McCann, the new structure, which took effect on January 1, will allow for increased operational flexibility.

Brian Lavery, managing director at CBRE Northern Ireland, said: “We are pleased that this restructuring will give us more autonomy over the running of our Northern Ireland business whilst at the same time retaining the benefits of remaining part of the world’s largest commercial real estate consultancy, with all of the resources and research at its disposal.

“We are excited about what the future has in store and we intend to grow the Belfast office further in the coming months and years.”

With the recent success of their annual Real Estate Market Outlook event which attracted over 600 virtual attendees and predicted a strong comeback for the Belfast market in 2021, the prospects of business growth seem greater.

The event’s headline speaker Spencer Levy, chairman of Americas Research and one of CBRE’s global senior economic advisers, noted that Belfast has an attractive real estate yield advantage when compared with neighbouring cities Dublin and London.

Commenting on the recent restructuring, senior director at CBRE Northern Ireland Robert Ditty said: “Despite the challenges presented in 2020, our outlook research has shown that Belfast is in a unique position to capture success in in the latter half of 2021.

“Within our new structure, CBRE NI will remain an affiliate of CBRE, meaning there will be no change to the unrivalled services we offer to our clients.

“However, the increased flexibility will allow us to take advantage of growing investment volumes in Belfast and Northern Ireland.”

With pent-up demand and high levels of liquidity in the commercial real estate sector, Belfast is well positioned to bounce back and attract buyers in 2021.

With regards to retail, a sector which is suffering due to the pandemic as well as fundamental shifts in how consumers shop, the team are already noting a number of recent retail lettings which are backfilling vacant space.

They expect to see more announcements, particularly within retail parks and neighbourhood spaces, in the coming months.

Gerard McCann, senior director at CBRE Northern Ireland, added: “Brian, Robert and I are delighted to have completed the management buy-out of the Belfast office.

“Belfast is a resilient city and is well-positioned for future success, and the new flexibility afforded to us as a result of restructuring gives us a great opportunity to grow CBRE NI.

“Real estate continues to offer relative stability of income and capital appreciation which is attractive to investors at this time. With the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, which will allow investors to travel to inspect buildings and conduct due diligence, we are anticipating an increase in activity in the sector.”

The commercial real estate sector locally has demonstrated resilience over the last year and is buoyant, with a number of major regeneration projects across the public and private sectors ongoing across the city, for example, Translink, Belfast Harbour and Titanic Quarter have projects currently in construction which are on schedule for completion.