Agents mega-mergers are leading to a smaller pool of retail property advisers, but it’s still all about the individuals

Since I started on Retail Week, many of the best known names in retail property agency have gradually disappeared. Specialist firms such as Dalgleish & Co, Churston Heard and Blair Kirkman have bee swallowed by by the giants of the surveying world (in these three cases CB Richard Ellis, Jones Lang LaSalle and Savills) as they’ve attempted to win credibility among retail occupiers in particular.

The latest takeover is on a different scale altogether, with Jones Lang LaSalle taking over King Sturge in a £200m deal, which will make JLL the largest commercial property adviser in the UK. King Sturge isn’t best known for retail, although it built its capability a couple of years ago with the acquisition of niche retail outfit Leslie Furness.

Increasingly - a bit like retail itself - there is a polarisation of the agency community between the global giants and the niche specialists. There are fewer of these now but firms like Harper Dennis Hobbs, Briant Champion Long and Harvey Spack Field more than hold their own and have a loyal brand of clients who value the very personal service from these small firms.

But even those working for the big boys are acutely aware of the need to continue to focus on their clients. Top brokers like Ciaran Bird at CBRE and Guy Grainger at JLL might be high-fliers within their big global organisations, but they are more than aware that staying close to their clients and sealing them the best deals is what really matters in the race for space.

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