- Size – 275,000 sq ft
- Project type – Acquisition
Cushman & Wakefield acquired 275,000 sq ft on behalf of Ashurst on a prelet basis in the London Fruit & Wool Exchange.
Ashurst occupied approximately 210,000 sq ft across two separate building on a number of leases and subleases that expired in Q2 2019.
C&W were instructed to advise on and implement a long term real estate strategy that would complement, and be aligned, to the businesses future strategy and vision.
A detailed search for prelet development opportunities that would deliver on time and at least risk was carried out. Following detailed due diligence the London Fruit & Wool Exchange was selected as the preferred building.
Over a 10 month period C&W carried out a detailed analysis which involved:
- Working with Architects and cost consultants on workplace strategy comparing the variety of benefits of new ways of working.
- A thorough search for all “on” and “off” market buildings that matched Ashurst’s requirements both in terms of size and timing for occupation.
- Detailed financial and qualitative analysis to reduce the list from 43 buildings / development sites.
- Negotiations via formal RFPs on 8 relocation alternatives.
- Finalisation of heads of terms on the most suitable relocation alternatives.
- Detailed due diligence on risk profiles of each shortlisted site and recommendation to the board for final sign off.
Cushman & Wakefield managed the multifaceted process by ensuring that a very senior Steering Group was formed at the outset that included the managing partner, CFO, Head of HR, IT and real estate.
Bringing the Steering Group through the journey over a period of 12 months was fundamental to the success of the project, ensuring buy in from the wider partnership and fast decision making, in what is a very competitive market environment.
C&W’s relationship and understanding of the developer and fund’s drivers were also key to securing the building on competitive terms.
All of the 3 had the skill set to do the job but Digby and the CW team stood out firstly because of not just market knowledge but legal market knowledge and secondly because they came across as an existing real 'team' (and that has been the case in practice).
CW have been a key part of the core team from day one sitting on our internal steering group. Starting with advice and recommendations about the 'stay or go' options available to us and then working up initial criteria for what type of space we need followed by an excellent building search process taking us through the process step by step allowing us to make informed decisions.
CW carried out a clear and targeted evaluation process for the building options available and once we narrowed the choice with them, the negotiation of commercial terms was a short and sensible process managed by CW.
An invaluable part of the role has been the input into internal communications and the 'bringing the partners along' piece. This has been with direct presentations to the Board, Exco and to the wider partnership. This is not just about a detailed knowledge of the market but it is also experience in dealing with large businesses and having an understanding of internal politics on such a huge business decision.