The best in the commercial real estate sector gathered for the 25th Silver Anniversary Property Awards last week to celebrate the stars that have shone brightest this year.
The dazzling two-hour virtual event kicked off with a cocktail making masterclass from the Beyond Food Foundation.
Having been sent the list of ingredients beforehand, many virtual attendees took on the challenge of making the Purple Midnight Cocktail and duly showed off their concoctions on social media afterwards.
Drinks in hand, they were then treated to entertainment from impressionist Jon Culshaw, who gave a whirlwind rendition of Hamlet’s soliloquy featuring Ricky Gervais, Boris Johnson and, of course, Donald Trump. String quartet Siren and mind-reader Alex Crow provided further entertainment.
But, of course, it was the awards themselves that everyone was waiting for, and not even the Covid-19 crisis could take the shine off the 25th anniversary winners, who as Property Week editor Liz Hamson noted in her welcome speech have provided the “silver lining to this darkest of years”.
This year’s winners included Bruntwood SciTech, named Property Company of the Year; Investec Structured Property Finance, which carried off the Financier/Lender of the Year award; and Kontor, which was named Office Agency Team of the Year.
The event culminated with the big personality awards and a one-off: the Personality of the Year Award, the Irvine Sellar Award, the Hall of Fame and the one-off Silver Jubilee Award, to celebrate the best company of the past 25 years.
We have an incredible team and we strive to give back more
Accepting the Irvine Sellar Award, Mark Quinn, chairman and CEO of Quinn Estates, thanked local councils and businesses for backing his vision, and hailed the team that made it happen.
“We have an incredible team and we strive to give back more, which is exactly what Irvine Sellar accomplished with his developments – and that’s why I think we won this award,” he said.
“Irvine risked everything to create something of beauty for the people of London and beyond. And good development is about trying to do more for the area in which you develop then you take from that area. This is what we have strived to do in our development.”
This year, two industry titans were inducted to the Property Awards Hall of Fame. First to be announced by Hall of Fame sponsor Harvey Soning, founder of James Andrew International, was Grainger chief executive Helen Gordon.
Accepting her award, she said: “Thank you so much for this great honour. I am celebrating 40 years in the real estate industry and what an amazing industry it is. It has given me a great career and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing people over the years, including everybody in the Hall of Fame.
“The impact of Covid-19 is probably my fourth session of disruption in the market, but I have observed that often we emerge with more opportunities to do exciting things in our industry.
“This time, I think our country is going to need more than ever the support of the real estate industry, not only to build back better, but to deal with inequalities and to support our economy, not only from Covid-19, but from the impact of Brexit.
“With that come opportunities for all of us to add to the diversity of what we do and to add to the different people that we work with. I for one am looking forward to the next chapter. Thank you once again for the great honour of the Hall of Fame.”
Burns joins Hall of Fame
Soning then introduced the second inductee of the night, Derwent London co-founder John Burns. “What this man doesn’t know about commercial real estate hasn’t been discovered yet,” Soning said.
Burns said: “I’m honoured to accept this award and join so many renowned names in the Hall of Fame.”
He added that although he had witnessed numerous times of hardship during his years at Derwent London, including recessions and the oil crisis, “nothing I have experienced compares with the pandemic we are living through, with the horrendous effects to people’s lives and businesses across all sectors”.
He added: “When we come out of it, there will be many changes we will have to adapt to.
“But I have no doubt that we will do so successfully. We must never forget the medium- and longer-term property has always proved to be a great asset.”
Our country will need more than ever the support of the real estate industry
Burns went on to thank business partner and “design guru” Simon Silver and the wider Derwent team “without whose skills and professionalism I would not be speaking with you today”.
David Sleath, chief executive of SEGRO, gave the final speech of the evening, after receiving the Personality Award and the Silver Jubilee Award for his company as a one-off honour to mark the Property Awards’ 25th anniversary.
The business, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in May with a virtual event for all of its staff, won the award for being a business that has thrived and evolved over the past quarter of a century.
“This year has clearly been a year like no other, with many, many personal challenges,” said Sleath. “I’m pleased that despite all these challenges, due to the quality and strength of our portfolio and dedication of my colleagues in challenging circumstances, our business has performed exceptionally well. And we have continued to have a strong financial results for our shareholders.
“As any business leader knows, you cannot achieve sustainable success without a strong purpose, a clear strategy, and most importantly, a great team around you.
“So I am thrilled and honoured to accept both the property personality award and this marvellous special Silver Jubilee award on behalf of everyone at SEGRO. So thanks, and congratulations to all my colleagues. And thanks again to Property Week and the judges.”