The great and the good of property gathered at Grosvenor House on Park Lane for the Property Awards to celebrate the sector’s successes of the past 12 months.
Hosted by impressionist Jon Culshaw, it was a night to remember as the best of the best were celebrated. We reveal what made the winners stand out in our 22nd annual awards, headlined by two new entrants into our Hall of Fame and the crowning of the Property Personality of the Year for 2017.
Watch a full slideshow of all the winners above - all photography by Jon Cardwell
Gerald Ronson CBE
In a career described by his friends as being “biblical” in its proportions spanning as it does more than six decades, Gerald Ronson has had his fair share of dramas - fortunately more of the former than the latter.
Displaying an entrepreneurial spirit from the off, Ronson left school at 14 and a half, starting out in his family furniture manufacturing business before striking out on his own, inventing self-service petrol stations and building a sprawling business and property empire along the way.
He has made, lost and remade a fortune, but what has never changed is his work ethic. Now in his late 70s, Ronson still works a six-day week and, as he told Property Week in 2015, he will retire “when they carry me out in a box - and I’m not planning that for a long time”. Admired by some of the biggest names in the business, he is described by one as “a tough guy who knows what he’s doing and has a sense of honour and fairness”.
Receiving his award, Ronson declared: “I’m like an old dinosaur. I’ve been in the property business for just over 60 years and having developed 160 projects in nine countries around the world, as well as developments in 48 towns through the UK, I have covered a lot of ground over a lifetime!”
He has indeed - and may he cover yet more in the years to come.
Sir George Iacobescu CBE
It is no exaggeration to say that Sir George Iacobescu has done as much as anyone to change the face of London. Born in Romania in 1945, Iacobescu studied engineering at Bucharest University before escaping the rule of Nicolae Ceauşescu in 1975 and establishing a career in the property industry in Canada. By the late 1980s, he had become vice-president of Olympia & York, in which capacity he moved to London in 1988 to oversee the construction of Canary Wharf.
Iacobescu stayed with the project after the developer went into administration in 1991, working first as construction director, then deputy chief executive of the Canary Wharf Group when it formed in 1995, before taking the top job in 1997. For two decades, he has presided over what is now unquestionably one of the greatest business districts in the world.
In his speech, Iacobescu described property as “something we are very good at in this country” and offered this advice to “the heroes of the future”. “Keep your eyes on what you set out to do. You will go through ups and downs, but as long as you follow your vision - and put your soul into it - it will happen. Look conservative on the outside and be a bit crazy on the inside.”
Wise words from another true legend of the industry..
Personality of the Year: Bill Hughes, Legal & General Investment Management
Bill Hughes did not just talk the talk when it came to putting institutional money beyond the build-to-rent sector, he and his team walked the walk, announcing a new modular housing factory and he and his team launched a £1bn build-to-rent platform , through a BTR fund and joint venture with PGGM. Transforming L&G’s property fund management business into a ‘real assets’ platform, he also unlocked vital regeneration projects such as the £580m financing of DP World London Gateway and the £350m Newcastle Science Central development. And if that wasn’t enough, he was also appointed chair of the Property Industry Alliance. Described by colleagues as truly wanting to make a difference, Hughes has certainly done that in the past year.
Sponsored by Citygrove
Young Personality of the Year: William Newton and Tom Redmayne, WiredScore
William Newton and Tom Redmayne joined WiredScore in 2015 after the company won a GLA contract to set up a connectivity rating system for London offices. With their complimentary skills - Newton worked for McKinsey & Co and the Cabinet Office, while Redmayne worked for Cushman & Wakefield - the pair quickly grew the business.
The company has already acted for more than 60 leading UK landlords, including British Land, The Crown Estate, Great Portland Estates, Land Securities and Stanhope. The judges described WiredScore as “really of the moment” and “fresh, new and very relevant”.
Sponsored by Irwin Mitchell
- Professional Agency Team of the Year - Gerald Eve & Malcolm Hollis (joint winners)
- Industrial Agency Team of the Year - Savills
The Savills industrial team concluded 342 deals in 2016, representing 14.75m sq ft and a turnover of £4.7m. Among its highlights were some of the sector’s biggest deals of 2016 including: three lettings totalling 950,000 sq ft for Amazon; the 550,000 sq ft pre-let of Fradley Park to Screwfix on behalf of Prologis; and the sale of a site for a 400,000 sq ft warehouse for Arcadia Group in the latest 7.8m sq ft phase of Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal.
“Savills had a strong overall year with an impressive catalogue of lettings on behalf of a wide range of landlords and occupiers,” said the judges. “It has the best all-round team, providing a joined-up service and a great research function.”
Sponsored by Verdion
- Investment Agency Team of the Year - Gerald Eve
Gerald Eve’s capital markets team established itself as a major player in 2016, advising on investment deals totalling £2.2bn - up 154% year on year - and acquiring Deloitte Real Estate’s investment division. The team’s most significant transactions included advising HB Reavis on its £330m sale of the 227,000 sq ft office 33 Central to Wells Fargo, acting for Goldman Sachs on its £350m acquisition of all UK assets held by Swedish pension fund Alecta and advising AEW on the £325m purchase of SEGRO’s Bath Road office portfolio. “They set out to gain a footing in the investment market and they achieved that goal,” said the judges. “They have punched well above their weight for two years in a row and deserve recognition.”
Highly commended: Cushman & Wakefield
Sponsored by Fladgate
- Leisure Agency Team of the Year - Coffer Group
The Coffer Group continued to lead the way in the UK’s leisure property sector in 2016 with 280 transactions. Standout deals for its agency business Davis Coffer Lyons included a 5,800 sq ft letting to Wagamama in London’s Soho - representing the highest rent paid for a leisure property in this part of London - and lets to brands such as Polpo and the Breakfast Club at the rooftop dining location at the extension of Westgate Oxford shopping centre for The Crown Estate and Land Securities.
Meanwhile, the group’s investment arm Coffer Corporate Leisure handled some of the leisure sector’s biggest portfolio deals. “They are an excellent niche firm and clearly leaders in their field,” the judges concluded. “They are consistently good at what they do.”
Sponsored by Nova Loca
- Niche or Regional Agency Team of the Year - Coffer Group
The Coffer Group remains a leader in the UK’s leisure property sector, pulling off 280 transactions in 2016. The judges said: “More impressive still is the fact that they are continuing to improve and are not content to rest on past achievements.”
Highlight deals for its agency business Davis Coffer Lyons included a 5,800 sq ft letting to Wagamama in London’s Soho and lets at the rooftop dining location at the extension of Westgate Oxford shopping centre for The Crown Estate and Land Securities.
Meanwhile, the group’s investment arm Coffer Corporate Leisure handled some of the leisure sector’s biggest portfolio deals, including the sale of 17 pubs and five convenience stores for Enterprise Inns.
Presented by LandAid
- Office Agency Team of the Year - Cushman & Wakefield
Cushman & Wakefield has sought to bolster its credentials in central London, and its figures for 2016, the first full year since its merger with DTZ, show it has done so. The firm concluded 2.4m sq ft of lettings in 105 transactions in central London last year, and acted for occupiers on 79 deals totalling 2.2m sq ft. These included representing Apple on its 500,000 sq ft pre-let at Battersea Power Station and Thomson Reuters on its 316,000 sq ft sub-let from Credit Suisse at 5 Canada Square. Meanwhile, Cushman’s lease advisory team worked on rent reviews totalling 3.4m sq ft with a rent roll of £149m. “Cushman has continued to innovate in a tough market while at the same time managing the merger,” commented the judges. “They have also emerged as thought leaders on issues such as technology and Brexit.”
Presented by Paragon
- Retail Agency Team of the Year - Nash Bond
Retail specialist Nash Bond expanded beyond its London heartland in November when it created an international alliance with US firm The Shopping Centre Group to give both firms’ clients better insight into the UK and US markets. In London, the team’s big projects included supporting Land Securities on the evolution of Victoria into a retail and leisure destination, with a host of lettings in the Nova and Zig Zag buildings, as well as the first retail letting in Argent’s 8m sq ft redevelopment of King’s Cross to Nike.
Nash Bond also worked with Hammerson on the launch of Victoria Gate in Leeds, where 90% of tenants are new to the city. The judges highlighted the company’s “standout deals” and the “impressive quality” of its work, adding that Nash Bond “punches well above its weight”.
Sponsored by Euro Car Parks
Deal of the Year - Battersea Power Station Development Company
US tech giant Apple made a major splash in the London office market last September when it announced plans to consolidate 1,400 of its staff in the city into a 500,000 sq ft office in the Boiler House at the Battersea Power Station redevelopment. Currently, the company’s staff in the city are split between eight buildings, including its largest London office on Hanover Street. The letting is key to the redevelopment of the 42-acre Battersea site as a mixed-use scheme of homes, offices, retail and leisure. The judges described the deal as “groundbreaking” and “a real game-changer for Battersea”.
Highly commended: HB Reavis - 33 Central
Sponsored by Kier Property
- Developer of the Year - Derwent London
Derwent London owns 6.2m sq ft of commercial real estate valued at £5.2bn, making it the largest London-focused REIT. In the year to 10 November 2016, the firm let 495,300 sq ft, including an 87,150 sq ft pre-let to Capita at the 107,000 sq ft Copyright Building in Fitzrovia. It made progress on several large projects, including its 293,000 sq ft White Collar Factory at Old Street roundabout, which is due to complete this year. Derwent also refurbished space totalling 344,200 sq ft and raised £210m from the disposal of four buildings, including 75 Wells Street in Fitzrovia. The judges praised Derwent’s “very strong entry” and its “tremendous innovation”, in particular highlighting its high volume of lettings.
Sponsored by Savills
- Financier of the Year - Aviva Investors Real Estate Finance
Aviva Investors Real Estate Finance is a leading provider of real estate finance in the UK, with a growing presence in Europe. In 2016, it lent more than £925m, as well as deploying more than €200m (£170m) in its first year of operating with a euro capability. Its most significant deals of last year included acting alongside M&G Investments to provide a £350m loan to central London student housing developer Urbanest to refinance its portfolio of five operating assets and providing a £115.5m loan to Bruntwood to refinance a portfolio of 12 buildings in Manchester and three other UK cities. “They take real care to understand clients’ businesses and develop relationships over time,” said the judges.
Highly commended: LendInvest
Sponsored by Maples Teesdale
- Sustainability Achievement - Grosvenor Britain & Ireland
Grosvenor’s 119 Ebury Street scheme in Westminster last year became the first grade II-listed residential building to achieve BREEAM ‘outstanding’ status, setting new standards for the sustainable retrofit of heritage properties. The firm worked with Westminster City Council and Historic England to reduce carbon emissions by more than 75% a year, save tenants over 50% on their energy bills and gain vital knowledge to help meet London-wide emissions targets. The partners hope that this knowledge will benefit Westminster, where 90% of emissions come from listed buildings. “This is an excellent example of sustainable retrofit, which is the biggest priority if the 2050 carbon emissions targets are to be reached,” the judges commented. “The project demonstrates an admirable approach to all aspects of sustainability.”
Sponsored by Holistic
- Occupier of the Year - Google (at Kings Cross)
US internet giant Google gave the London office market a big boost in late 2016 when it confirmed plans to develop a 10-storey, 650,000 sq ft complex in the city. It plans to build this alongside two offices it is already developing for its London headquarters: the 11-storey 371,000 sq ft 6 St Pancras Square in London’s King’s Cross, into which staff started moving last June, and a second building with 10 storeys and total capacity of 280,000 sq ft.
Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said the firm committed to the scheme because it still sees the UK as an attractive business location despite uncertainty over Brexit. The judges praised Google for its “commitment in a turbulent year”.
Highly commended: UBS AG
Sponsored by Regus
- Property Company of the Year - Grainger
Grainger underwent a transformational year in 2016, starting with the appointment of Helen Gordon as chief executive and Vanessa Simms as chief financial officer. The new management team set a strategy for Grainger to become a leader in the UK’s private rented and build-to-rent sectors, with a goal to grow its private rented portfolio to a total value of over £3bn, driven by £850m of direct investment. In the 12 months to December, the company had invested almost half that figure (£389m) in assets including the £100m Clippers Quay site in Manchester, where it will develop a 614-unit scheme. The judges praised Grainger for its “very ambitious and good leadership” and delivering “a year of action”. They concluded: “Grainger was simply the standout winner on all fronts.”
Highly commended: Verdion
Sponsored by Oak North Bank
- Property Entrepreneur of the Year - Cain Hoy
In just over three years, Jonathan Goldstein has established Cain Hoy as a global private investment firm behind some of the UK’s most significant property projects and deals. The firm focuses on complicated transactions in which it can add value through its property expertise, enabling it to secure deals that are outside the comfort zone of other mainstream lenders. Its highlights of 2016 included a £78m loan to residential developer Lodha UK, which was secured against its Lincoln Square development in London’s legal heartland.
Goldstein’s firm is also behind the £750m The Stage project on a 2.3-acre site in Shoreditch and has invested overseas in cities such as Miami in the US. The judges described Cain Hoy as simply “the leader of the pack”.
Highly commended: Kontor
Sponsored by Howard Kennedy
- Property Fund Manager of the Year - Patron Capital
Pan-European opportunistic investor Patron Capital had a strong 2016, raising €949m for its fifth fund and concluding a series of high-profile acquisitions. The company started 2016 by buying Grainger’s 3,500-property Retirement Solutions arm for £325m with Electra Capital and ended it with a £400m takeover of pub and bar operator Punch Taverns, working with Heineken. Other highlights included the acquisition of four office buildings at Dublin’s East Point Business Park and relaunch of a 550,000 sq ft office complex in Berlin under the name EightFloors. The judges praised Patron for its “innovation and excellent returns” as well as its “significant contributions to charity”.
Sponsored by Yardi
- Proptech Company of the Year - VTS
Towards the end of 2016, one piece of news dominated talk in the proptech community: the merger between US giants VTS and Hightower. The resulting company, which has taken the VTS name, is thought to be worth as much as $300m and has a customer base managing 5bn sq ft of commercial property around the world. VTS acts as an asset management tool that gives landlords and owners access to real-time analytics about their portfolios. In addition, the business is a leasing tool that enables clients to instruct agents to upload all of their activity so they can keep updated. “It’s amazing how quickly they have gained traction in the UK,” said the judges. “It’s a strong business model that is getting increasing industry buy-in.”
Highly commended: WiredScore
Sponsored by KPMG Enterprise
- Property Newcomer of the Year - Place Partnership
Described by the judges as “innovative and creative”, Place Partnership was established in September 2015 to act as the property vehicle on behalf of six public bodies: Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority, Redditch Borough Council, Warwickshire Police, West Mercia Police, Worcester City Council and Worcestershire County Council. The vehicle manages an estate of more than 1,400 property assets and builds on the UK government’s goal of managing public sector property more efficiently. In its first seven months, it made savings of £1m for its partners, and since then has delivered projects including a fire station in Evesham that released land for a Waitrose-led regeneration project. “Place Partnership is achieving something very few
others have been able to,” the judges commented.
Sponsored by Malcolm Hollis
- Placemaking Award - U + I
The Deptford Project is a £47m public-private partnership between developer U+I and the London Borough of Lewisham to develop a mixed-use scheme on a two-acre site next to Deptford railway station. U+I won planning permission for the
site in 2011 and has now completed a development with 132 flats, 14,000 sq ft of commercial space and new public realm. In October, the partners formally launched the scheme’s retail hub
Deptford Market Yard, which is home to a range of independent retailers. The judges praised U+I for reinvigorating a site that had been derelict, rife with crime and a blemish on the high street, as well as for “involving the local community from the outset” and “creating an innovative location in a deprived area”.
Highly commended: EcoWorld Ballymore
Sponsored by Nash Bond
Winner: Gerald Eve
Gerald Eve’s business rates team acts for clients ranging from start-ups to major corporates. It represents a quarter of companies in the FTSE 100 and saved its clients more than £2.2bn during the last valuation period, something that the judges described as “very striking”. Last year, the team won significant new clients including the Bank of England, Regus, Specsavers and Vision Express and advised high-end hotels including The Dorchester and the landmark Shangri-La Hotel between floors 34 and 52 of The Shard. It was also particularly vocal on the controversy surrounding the recent business rate revaluation, which led the judges to describe Gerald Eve as “the voice of rating in 2016” and “at the forefront of the debate”.
Winner: Malcolm Hollis
Malcolm Hollis had a strong 2016, with turnover up 23% year on year to £30m. The team grew by 46 people and has now breached the 300 mark. On the professional side, the firm now offers 19 built environment and M&E services and has seen major growth in the past 18 months in areas including project management, tenant alterations and rights of light. Its highlights of 2016 included winning key instructions for Amazon UK Services, Intu Properties and LaSalle Investment Management, as well as roles on major refurbishment schemes in Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The judges commented that Malcolm Hollis had demonstrated “strong growth in a difficult year”.
Sponsored by RSM