Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate has been thrown in at the deep end in Nigeria, but the country’s ongoing economic downturn has resulted in a real estate industry crying out for a provider of such global repute
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Joshua Mann
When Cushman & Wakefield decided to enter the Nigerian market with the added support of Excellerate Property Services, the vision to become the country’s leading real estate services provider was clear, and its appeal was undoubted. Propelling this vision into reality amid an economic downturn since inception in 2016 has been an altogether more challenging prospect, however.
The resultant Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate proposition has so far overcome the odds though, virtue of a brand name that resonates both in Africa and on a global scale, and a service offering that puts the client first.
“The Company was first registered in 2014 but we didn’t really start actively working or hitting the ground until 2016,” Managing Director, Jemil Dawodu recalls and affirms. “In 2014 we only had one property which we would use as an entry property into the market, but when I came in, in 2016, and as the affiliation was completed, we started growing as a bigger name with a weightier brand.
“We had a bigger international affiliation and with that came access to a lot of blue-chip clients. And we leveraged that and have since then seen our span of expertise and consultancy services grow; but unfortunately this has all come during an economic downturn in the country.”
Nevertheless, the newly merged Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate entity has proven itself dynamic, diverse, experienced and reputable enough to weather the storm and is now in a perfect position to thrive as the market begins to stabilise.
“A lot of projects are coming back onboard and companies are seeing that Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate has a new, dynamic service range to offer,” Dawodu continues. “Our range includes facility management services of course but also property management, valuation and also a lot of work on the transaction side too (disposals, acquisitions, lease renewals, etc). We also now advice on clients’ asset portfolios in relation to market prices, and what they’re spending; helping to lessen wastage and aligning their portfolios as best as possible to the current market.
“We’ve carried out such works for big companies including Sage, Oracle, Huawei, ExxonMobil, Unilever and MasterCard, which is testament to the level of client care we ensure, so that each client gets the service they want.”
Quality of said service then becomes an added differentiator on Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate’s part, quite quickly fostering an environment where clients will be seeking out the provider, rather than the other way round; a rarity given any company’s relative newness to a country.
A local company with a global presence
Once again, it is Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate’s accumulated experience and reputation across Africa - and indeed the world - that has led to such an immediate uptake in a new domain; compounded by concerted, hard work on the Company’s part to ingratiate itself more personably through one-to-ones, personal introductions, and relationship-building discussions with prospective partners and clients.
“And naturally it works the other way too, and we’ve picked up partners here based on Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate’s relationships elsewhere in Africa, or even as far afield as China,” Dawodu says. “We are a local company with a global presence and that has been our main selling point here over the past year or so.”
The Company’s hub may be in the business epicentre of Lagos, but its reach is national, and even regional when it comes to service provision and client commitment. However, it is indeed the appeal of Lagos that lends itself most suitably to Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate’s expertise; the rent statistics, property saturation, and lucrative nature of the area crying out for a worthy, knowledgeable facilities and property manager.
Dawodu adds: “Nigeria is such a vast, vibrant and dynamic country and economy and it’s such a shame it’s going through a recession at the moment, but the market will pick up and when it does, we’ll be in a position of strength to capitalise on the potential of Lagos and Abuja, without closing the door to other districts or countries too.
“There is a problem in terms of quick turnarounds on opportunities of course, but not on our side, and when we see an opportunity, we go for it, and there are no footprint hindrances from this perspective.”
Any market - its opportunities and its challenges - need to be understood and embraced in order for a Company to conquer it and this is where Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate’s experience of similar situations all over the world comes to the fore. While competitors potentially struggle to negotiate the tougher times, or fail to differentiate themselves in a temporarily strained sector, Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate is able to hone in on the industry in its present state, and adapt its approach to service provision accordingly.
“I think we’re at the forefront of companies who bring experience to clients of how to deal with this particular market and environment from experiences in London and Europe as a whole. We bring that experience here to see how we can help a lot of clients get through this difficult time,” the MD explains. “Then, furthermore, in times like this especially, because Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate is such a well-known name globally, people want to be associated with the brand, and to either leverage or share in our success and growth in Nigeria.
“When clients or business partners are assessing our pedigree, the brand name speaks for itself.”
The transference of such positive feedback and status to physical projects and business needs to be completed in order to achieve the Company’s vision of West African success, and while the sector simmers gently under the surface in the meantime, there are already more concrete signs of development appearing.
An exciting property in Liberia emphasises the long-term regional goals of the business, while locally, Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate is already in talks with likeminded, aspirational developers in regards to new Grade A offices in some of the most affluent areas of Lagos.
Dawodu details: “We’ve been able to get such a client onboard recently, virtue of the brand name and our wealth of experience in being able to deal with a situation in a downturned economy. We could get across to the developer that we don’t just look at current rent prices and the current situation, but take a more sustainable, long-term view of what can be afforded in the market.
“We are already being identified as a key player in the Nigerian market and we hope to grow the brand name’s influence even further moving forward.”
Currently refining its service delivery, its software tools, and levels of productivity and quality to achieve this ambition, Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate is also reviewing its reporting structure internally so that preparedness and communication are heightened throughout a negotiation and management process.
Simultaneously, the Company is also working hard to ingratiate itself more dedicatedly to the local fabric of Nigeria, holding on to its cemented global repute while showcasing its ability to act entrepreneurially, sensitively, and responsibly in accordance with local trends and regulations.
Encapsulating ideas of human resources and CSR within this strategy, the ultimate goal over the coming years is to match unrivalled service delivery and unmatched international experience, with an ever-improving Nigerian portfolio to become the best in the business, in West Africa.
“Our biggest differentiators come down to two main attributes,” Dawodu concludes. “First and foremost is client care, which is key because if the client isn’t happy then we can’t make any money. So to ensure that the client is always happy, we enact our second differentiator which is the quality of delivery of services we provide to each of them.
“This combination, always conducted in compliance with international standards and local expectations, will help in our goal of becoming the largest and best of our kind in Nigeria; affirming Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate’s status as best-in-class and a foremost provider across Africa.”