Whether you own or rent your property, a smart real estate strategy could save you money, boost your bottom line and support your business goals. This is where the benefits of Corporate Real Estate Services (CRES) come into play. Specialist CRES advisers help negotiate better leases, create a better understanding of obligations and unleash effective property strategies for building occupiers and owner-occupiers.

With real estate representing the second highest operational cost after human capital for business, it’s little wonder the demand for outsourced CRES services has ballooned in recent years in South Africa and, in fact, across sub-Saharan Africa.

Now, there is a new CRES powerhouse in Africa. The new Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate alliance, boosted by Cushman & Wakefield’s 2015 merger with DTZ, has created a powerful amalgamation of three industry leaders to forge a formidable CRES team with an unmatched depth of skill, experience and market insight throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Guy Voller, Account Director in CRES for Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate in South Africa, reports:

“In today’s competitive environment, businesses can’t afford to ignore using global best practice for their property decisions, especially when it gives them a competitive edge. This is why we are seeing growth in CRES. It has been driven by multinational businesses with leading local corporates following suit.”

He believes developing a successful real estate strategy is critical for any business. It needs an excellent understanding of property, but also of business strategies. Once a real estate strategy is set, it is then implemented within a property portfolio using disciplines such as treasury management, accounting, and, of course, delivering transactions to support optimal results.

Voller notes that more and more organisations are following global best practice with outsourced CRES. He says: “Mostly, businesses want to achieve savings with more efficient and cost-effective occupation. By really understanding businesses, we can establish if property ownership is strategic or not, and even find ways to release liquidity into a business. We look at how real estate decisions can support returns and ensure property doesn’t pose any downside risks for performance.

The Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate CRES team also weigh up outside factors that affect a business.

Dewaldt de Lange, Account Director for sub-Saharan Africa in Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate’s CRES team, says that understanding the nuances of the diverse markets in the region - from macro - and micro-economic factors to the political landscape and population figures - could impact a business’s decision to buy, rent or build premises.

De Lange says: “We take a wide macro approach then focus in on site-specific opportunities, all the while keeping in mind most effective ways to expatriate a business’s money in line with the region’s diverse currencies and various, often complex, tax laws. It boils down to how your money is best spent. Do you get a better return by investing in a property or investing in your own business?

He points out that, in the past, real estate advisories across sub-Saharan Africa operated regionally and independently of one another. With the Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate alliance, this has changed. It will continue to apply its local market knowledge but also leverage off its CRES hub in South Africa to optimise and synchronise its service and forge even more formidable relationships.

Among businesses to recognise the tremendous value of CRES are retailers with their sights set on rapid expansion, or occupation changes, across a country or region. Working with Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate, they expedite the process of identifying sites, access local research, vet landlords and business partners and enjoy a consistency of services and global delivery standards across the region, all with a single point of contact and without language barriers.

Voller and de Lange agree the opportunity for CRES in South Africa and across the sub-Saharan Africa has become enormous.

Together, they report: “Besides the continuing growth in the number of businesses using CRES, the new Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate alliance has taken us from being a local service provider to becoming a global partner. It’s a quantum leap and, as a result, we’re seeing an exciting growth. Our scaled-up business offers customers more experience and depth of knowledge, and a really strong skillset. Plus, we’ve jumped up our footprint to deliver services and, by using technology to provide an advanced service to our clients, we’re seeing a growth in demand.

Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate count leading businesses such as Absa, Liberty, G4S, Chep, The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Unilever, Facebook, Oracle, Vodafone, Aecom and Shell among its clients.

The Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate alliance currently operates across sub-Saharan Africa, with 32 offices in 11 countries:

Botswana; DRC; Ghana; Kenya; Lesotho; Namibia; Nigeria; South Africa; Swaziland; Zambia; and Zimbabwe.

Legal entities are established in a further seven countries:

Cameroon; Cote d’Ivoire; Gabon; Senegal; Tanzania; Uganda and Morocco.