PE-backed Avison Young buys Britain’s North Rae Sanders

Avison Young Inc has acquired North Rae Sanders, a British commercial property services provider, with a focus on the logistics-warehousing, manufacturing, office and mixed-use sectors. No financial terms were released. Avison, a commercial real estate services business, said the deal expands its footprint in the United Kingdom. Toronto-based Avison has been a portfolio investment of Canadian private equity firm Tricor Pacifc Capital since 2011. Late last year, Tricor rebranded its fifth fund, creating a new private equity firmParallel49 Equity.


Avison Young acquires North Rae Sanders, opens new office in Coventry, U.K., eight members join

Purchase widens Avison Young’s U.K. footprint, adds four new Principals

TORONTO, Jan. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ – Mark E. Rose, Chair and CEO of Avison Young, the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm, announced today that it has acquired market-leading U.K. firm North Rae Sanders (NRS) and opened a new office in Coventry.

The newest U.K. office represents Avison Young’s fourth office in the U.K, eighth office in Europe, and an additional step in the firm’s ongoing aggressive growth and expansion strategy.

Over the past seven years, Avison Young has grown from 11 to, now, 75 offices in 67 markets, and from 300 to more than 2,100 real estate professionals in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Europe.

Founded in 1991, NRS is one of the U.K.’s leading commercial property service providers, with a focus on the logistics/warehousing, manufacturing, office and mixed-use sectors. The company works on behalf of major investors, developers and occupiers. EGI industrial research recently ranked NRS seventh in EGI’s “National Industrial Agents EGI League Table (Disposals) – First Half 2015”. NRS ranked first in disposals in West Midlands and second in East Midlands, and has a growing presence in London and the South East markets.

Effective immediately, NRS is rebranded as Avison Young and eight new members join from NRS. Robert Rae, Andrew Jackson, Peter Keir and Tom Kimbell become Principals of Avison Young.

“We’re thrilled to welcome the NRS team to Avison Young and open a new office in Coventry, which will provide us with a centre of excellence in the Midlands marketplace,” comments Rose. “This acquisition is another important step towards the expansion of our rapidly growing U.K. operations. Avison Young will continue to offer clients a countrywide service offering that spans the entire property lifecycle, with access to overseas markets and resources of the wider firm. Furthermore, NRS will enable us to further bolster our service offering and provide us with insight and market knowledge at a local level. The NRS team is a perfect match for us as the members are focussed entirely on delivering added value for clients, which mirrors the Avison Young client-centric, Principal-led culture.”

Rose continues: “Robert, Andrew, Peter and Tom are well-respected leaders within the 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 recruitment of the eight members of the NRS team will further strengthen our existing high-performing U.K. team.”

Nick Cook, a Principal of Avison Young and Managing Director of the firm’s London and Thames Valley offices, will also serve as Managing Director of the new Coventry office and oversee the company’s strategic direction in the Midlands. As Principals of Avison Young, Rae, Jackson, Keir and Kimbell will jointly manage the day-to-day operations of the Midlands office while serving new and existing clients.

“Given its dominance in the industrial and logistics sectors and prominence among the major property agents in the Midlands region, the NRS team is an important addition to Avison Young,” states Cook. “As a business, NRS is well-respected throughout the Midlands and South East regions and the rest of the U.K. I have known all of the new Principals for many years and can attest to the positive client and industry relationships that they have developed since Robert Rae and his former partners launched NRS in 1991. Their presence will also enable Avison Young to attract key talent operating in the logistics and industrial sectors on a national basis.”

Cook adds: “With an increasing flow of Canadian and U.S. occupiers and investors seeking to develop their property and business interests in the U.K., the addition of the NRS business and team will provide Avison Young’s global clients with a deeper range of capabilities and services.”

Effective immediately, Avison Young’s new Midlands office is located at Orchard Court, Binley Business Park in Coventry.

“Our entire team looks forward to working with our new colleagues at Avison Young,” states Rae. “The acquisition will enable us to grow our business and provide access to a broader range of resources. The Avison Young brand will also enable us to deliver an unprecedented level of service to our current and future clients throughout the U.K. and other parts of Europe, as well as in North America. Taking advantage of the Midlands’ rising population, vibrant industrial real estate sector and strong job-growth opportunities, our legacy team will enable Avison Young to enhance its full-service platform and overall market reach.”

He adds: “Our team also welcomes the opportunity to be part of Avison Young’s Principal-led ownership model and collaborative culture. We recognized that, to compete effectively in today’s dynamic U.K. and global marketplaces, we needed to join a leading firm, while also being able to maintain our focus on the industrial and office sectors across the Midlands and South East regions. Our team members know that we can better serve clients by collaborating with our colleagues across Avison Young, and we look forward to helping our clients expand their businesses and property holdings.”

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 London and Thames Valley. The London-area locations represented Avison Young’s first offices outside of North America and a milestone step in the firm’s ongoing aggressive global growth and expansion strategy. Since then, the London and Thames Valley operations have grown steadily, and Avison Young has widened its European footprint by entering the German market and opening new offices in Frankfurt (December 2014), Munich (January 2015), Duesseldorf (March
2015) and Hamburg (June 2015).

Coventry is the fastest-growing city in England outside of London and the fifth fastest-growing city in all of the U.K., according to government population figures released in 2015. The Midlands region, home to more than 9 million people, plays a key role in the U.K. economy. Top Midlands cities include Birmingham, whose major international airport serves as a vital cargo-shipping hub; Coventry, whose automotive industry is known globally for its design and engineering capabilities, which are attracting significant domestic and international investment; Nottingham and Wolverhampton. Thanks to its central location within England and the U.K., the Midlands region serves important transportation and export roles, which benefit the U.K., European and global economies. According to BDO International, Midlands exports have doubled in the past five years. Leading Midlands industries include advanced manufacturing and engineering, construction, IT services, digital and creative, logistics, culture and tourism, professional and financial services and healthcare. Major auto manufacturers with Midlands plants include Rolls Royce, Jaguar and Toyota. The entire region’s employment is on the rise.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of Avison Young acquiring Toronto-based property appraisal company Metrix Realty Group (Ontario) Inc. on January 4, 2016, and Avison Young opening new offices in Memphis, Tennessee on December 7, 2015 and in Mexico City on December 2, 2015.


Robert Rae
Robert Rae brings more than 35 years of commercial property industry experience to Avison Young, most recently with NRS in the Midlands (Coventry) and London. Rae established NRS in 1991 as a leading industrial advisor covering the Midlands, including larger agency, development and investment work across the country. Prior to founding NRS, Rae worked at CBRE in London (formerly Hillier Parker), dealing with fund management across the U.K. Rae has established himself as a leading advisor on agency, development, investment and asset management, particularly on large-scale industrial and warehouse work. In addition, he works on office, roadside and mixed-use schemes. Key developer clients have included Goodman, Prologis, Roxhill, CBRE Investors, LaSalle Investment Management, Graftongate and Sladen Developments, plus investment funds including M&G, Orchard Street, Legal & General and Chamber Street Investments.

Rae has been involved in many of the Midlands’ leading schemes, including Prologis at Stoke and Coventry; and Goodman at Derby, Hinckley, Burton and Northampton. Key transactions have included recent parcel hubs for Hermes (336,488 square feet (sf)), UK Mail (231,050 sf) and DPD (330,000 sf); a pre-let of 710,000 sf to Tesco and a recent pre-sale of 60,000 sf to Tata for its new Midlands headquarters at Tachbrook Park in Leamington. Rae is a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and a member of the Industrial Agents Society, Office Agents Society, and Investment Property Forum.

Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson brings more than 35 years of commercial real estate industry experience to Avison Young, most recently as a partner with NRS. He began his career with Weatherall Green & Smith, now BNP Paribas Real Estate. He rose through the ranks to become a partner. In 1995, he became a founding partner of Holley Blake, now CBRE, before joining NRS as a partner in 2003. Jackson’s specialties are distribution and development markets. Recent sale and letting transactions include 100 acres at Beam Reach in Dagenham for the Greater London Authority, 345 acres for Roxhill at Peterborough, and 200 acres for Goodman at Derby and Burton upon Trent. Jackson received the Industrial Agents Society Outstanding Contribution to the Industry Award in 2013. He is a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a member of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors.

Peter Keir
Peter Keir, a 26-year commercial property sector veteran, joins Avison Young after 19 years with NRS, where he served as a partner. Keir trained at Jones Lang LaSalle before moving to St. Quintin, now CBRE, in 1992, and joined NRS in 1996. Keir’s specialties are investment, funding and development, and he has advised numerous funds, property companies and developers during his career. Recent transactions include a 500,000-sf funding for M&G at Optimus Point, Leicester; funding advice to Wilson Bowden on a 200,000-sf speculative scheme in Manchester; and advising Goodman on a prime speculative opportunity in Leicestershire. He also advised on the acquisition of 33.6 acres at Belvedere, which was a joint venture between Diageo Pension Fund and First Industrial. Investment and developer clients have included Aberdeen, Aviva, Buccleuch Property, CBREI, CCLA, Cordea Savills, London Metric, Roxhill Developments and Custodian Capital. Keir is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS) and he holds a Bachelor of Science in estate management.

Tom Kimbell
Tom Kimbell brings 10 years of commercial real estate experience to Avison Young, most recently as a partner at NRS, which he joined in 2013. Kimbell began his career at DTZ within the industrial team and today focuses on all aspects of industrial/distribution property, including development, occupational agency and investment. Recent transactions include lettings to Harvey Nichols and LG Electronics for their UK Distribution Centres, the investment disposal of 176,000 sf let to Travis Perkins on behalf of LondonMetric, and the speculative funding of 130,000 sf at Interlink Park, Leicester. Kimbell is a member of the Royal Institution of
Chartered Surveyors and holds a Master of Science in real estate management.

Avison Young is the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Avison Young is a collaborative, global firm owned and operated by its principals. Founded in 1978, the company comprises 2,100 real estate professionals in 75 offices, providing value-added, client-centric investment sales, leasing, advisory, management, financing and mortgage placement services to owners and occupiers of office, retail, industrial and multi-family properties.

• Please click on links to view and download photos of Robert Rae, Andrew Jackson, Peter Kier and Tom Kimbell:

For further information/comment/photos:
•Sherry Quan, Principal, Global Director of Communications & Media Relations, Avison Young: 604.647.5098; mobile: 604.726.0959
•Mark Rose, Chair and CEO, Avison Young: 416.673.4028
•Nick Cook, Principal and Managing Director, London, Thames Valley and Coventry, U.K., Avison Young: +44 (0)7768 60 70 60
•Robert Rae, Principal, Avison Young: 024 7663 6888
•Andrew Jackson, Principal, Avison Young: 020 7493 2180
•Peter Keir, Principal, Avison Young: 020 7493 2180
•Tom Kimbell, Principal, Avison Young: 024 7636 6888

Avison Young’s new Coventry office is located at: Orchard Court, Binley Business Park, Coventry, CV3 2TQ

Avison Young was a winner of Canada’s Best Managed Companies program in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and has demonstrated its commitment to the program and successfully reapplied for the designation as a Gold
Standard winner in 2014.

Follow Avison Young on Twitter:
For industry news, press releases and market reports:
For Avison Young listings and deals:

Follow Avison Young Bloggers:

Follow Avison Young on LinkedIn:

Follow Avison Young on YouTube:

Photo courtesy of Avison Young Inc