Malcolm Horne: Professional property services can add value to the bottom line

Broll anticipates an uptick in companies focusing on delivering strategic value after the SA elections.

The Broll Property Group used Finance Indaba Africa as a networking platform to to get a sense of where the financial sector is, given the interesting economic times the market is in.
 
“For us, there is a professionalisation of the property sector that is not only limited to finance but the financial impact it has for the industry at large. Many occupiers of space are only now realising that there are professional services that can add significant value to the bottom-line,” says Malcolm Horne, Group CEO of Broll Property Group.
 
As a group, Broll serves the investor and occupier markets across the African continent. These services include, but are not limited to; real estate investor services, facilities management, occupier solutions, property auctioneering, industrial and commercial broking, research-based real estate consulting and advisory, shopping centre management, valuation and advisory.


 
Malcolm says:

“As Africa’s leading professional property services provider, we offer progressive solutions built around a culture of delivering business value. This conviction drives high performance and is distinguished by our service excellence and longstanding client relationships – which is why we are renowned as the ‘progressive property people’. For companies operating in our space, it is about delivering this [value] from balance sheets, how leases are structured more effectively, and ultimately optimising the impact of their property investment in the business. Historically, the market has been very investor and landlord dominated. However, in the past 10 to 15 years, this has shifted to be more reflective of the occupiers as well.”

Broll has been one of the first businesses to see the evolution taking place and has structured its solutions to incorporate elements such as space optimisation and the increasing sophistication of the industry. This encompasses data analysis and other strategies unheard of a few years ago.
 
“Even though this professionalisation (and awareness) is gaining momentum locally, it is not happening quickly enough. Ironically, markets like Ghana and Nigeria are more comfortable in using companies to seek professional advice in terms of property. Many top developments are happening in those countries that embrace green technology that are comparable to what is happening in Sandton.”
 
Horne cites the upcoming national elections in South Africa as one of the main reasons for this.

“There is a tightening of budgets with businesses looking to optimise spend. Many are waiting until after elections to see what is going to happen in the market before making big moves in terms of property. The uncertainty around policy is one of the big challenges as there is no clear direction where the market will be heading. So, for the meantime companies will look at optimising the space they have available and using the pressure to innovate to provide more flexible working environments for employees.”

Horne admits that this is part of the natural cycle of the property business and the “election slowdown” is nothing unusual to see.
 
“The reality of the market is that irrespective of what happens next year, it will be a long haul to see significant change happening in the country. Once elections are done, we anticipate an uptick in activity with companies getting more focused on delivering on their strategic value in the property sector.”