Who's Who in Property

Cushman & Wakefield’s Jonathan Turner heads to Africa

Cushman & Wakefield international property doyen Jonathan Turner is relocating from London, UK, to Johannesburg, South Africa, to expand the company’s Corporate Real Estate Services (CRES) function and service delivery platform across the African continent.

Turner is a Partner at Cushman & Wakefield and now taking on the role as General Manager, Global Occupier Services Africa at Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate, to which he is now assigned. He holds a BA (Hons) in Economic History from Durham University, MA in Land Economy from Cambridge University, Masters in Corporate Real Estate (CoreNet) and is a Chartered Surveyor (RICS).

Turner has over 30 years of real estate experience across a progression of pioneering and high-performance roles, focused primarily on occupiers. He established Cushman & Wakefield’s occupier management business in the UK some 17 years ago at DTZ and for the best part of 25 years he has specialised in evolving, expanding and delivering occupier services. Turner advises multinational corporates and manages multidisciplinary client relationships.

In 2014, Turner expanded his focus, reviewing the company’s service delivery platform for both Investors and Occupiers in emerging markets in Europe and across the African continent. Responding to the opportunity and demand in the sub-Saharan African region, Turner instigated discussions between Cushman & Wakefield and Excellerate Property Services, culminating in their formal affiliation in August last year. Today, Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate is positioned to be the leading provider of global real estate services across the continent from an established network of 34 offices in 12 sub-Saharan countries.

“Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate is a game-changing partnership. It combines the global strength of Cushman & Wakefield with the regional knowledge of Excellerate Property Services.  Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate offers on-the-ground market-leading expertise with scale and flexibility. This is supported by strong management and corporate governance, innovative technology and an excellent reputation, including its respected JHI heritage,” says Turner, who has been travelling to the continent every two months since 2016, whilst still maintaining his wider client responsibilities within Cushman & Wakefield. He will relocate to Johannesburg in July this year to join the management team at Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate in further driving the growth of the business and as General Manager of Global Occupier Services Africa.

Commenting on the move, Turner reports: “I am passionate about the opportunities and I love the business and the people. Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate is a big business, but it has retained a personal touch. The synergies between teams from Cushman & Wakefield, Excellerate and our legacy alliance partner, DTZ Leadenhall, are strong and come from a solid base of mutual respect, collaboration and support. Further bolstered by recent additional joiners from other firms, the readiness of the individuals and teams to integrate and work together to provide the best solutions for our clients is inspiring. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to make a difference in the way we service our clients and develop new ways of operating to unlock opportunities in their markets across the region.”

Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate is committed to growing and will align its geographic footprint to client needs. Its strong growth platform is backed by a financially robust business that extends the Cushman & Wakefield enterprise delivery of all service lines across sub-Saharan Africa, with a vision to further expand.

“This gives our clients consistency, efficiency and ease of access in the region. It also migrates best practice and innovation, benefitting our clients domestically, intra-regionally and globally,” says Turner. In addition, he is confident that Occupier Services will be an area of particular high impact and growth for Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate on the continent.

“The approach to Occupier Services in Africa’s emerging markets is immature, partially because of the way the markets operate and also because local entities are less exposed to the innovative developments in international markets,” points out Turner. “This is especially evident in the way commercial occupiers occupy their space. The industry in Africa is behind the curve with regards to how global corporates are adopting workplace initiatives to support business strategy; such as using activity-based workspaces, to gain greater productivity, attract and retain the best talent and optimise the cost profile of their occupied space through greater utilisation and densification. Also, in promoting co-working spaces, bringing together customers, suppliers and complimentary businesses in a shared working environment to promote synergies and enhance innovation. ”

The development of workplace strategies that are a better fit for current and future business needs is one of the opportunities that Turner has identified. “Of course, these strategies must be tailored to the local market and applied to the physical provision of properties. Any solution needs to be contextually relevant”.

Turner believes Africa is a hotbed for new and different solutions that could see it leapfrog the way established markets have evolved. “African markets can potentially move to some of the next solutions much faster – just look at mobile banking in Kenya,” says Turner. “With technology in the workplace growing exponentially, the ability to for the built environment to embrace and leverage off technology is crucial to ensure that buildings remain relevant,” advises Turner.

He concedes the region is not without challenges, which include issues around transparency, political stability, corruption, the slow pace of business and infrastructure. “We see countries that want to attract capital and business investment putting solutions in place for some of these obstacles. That said, investors in emerging markets still expect greater returns to reflect the risk that they are potentially taking.”

A big myth is that it is cheaper to do business in Africa. “Not so,” says Turner, “especially for real estate. Rental levels on the continent can be a surprise to international business, especially with the difference in the quality of property compared with international benchmarks. Another financial consideration to keep in mind is that rents are payable annually in advance in some territories.”

Then there’s currency fluctuations and also forex regulations that can make it difficult to extract money and local access to finance at sensible rates.

Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate’s global occupier services are delivered by leaders in their fields who understand the challenges, opportunities and nuances across the region’s territories. The team has built a broad knowledge across real estate markets working with various international corporates in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa, backed by experience, market knowledge and research. They also know what is driving the growth of different sectors on the continent, including energy, logistics, FMCG, banking, professional services, life science and technology.

“We have a passion for finding the right solutions. We love it,” says Turner. “We thrive on providing leading edge services and solutions for our client by finding ways to optimize financial benefits, using our capabilities to structure transactions, and innovating different ways to occupy space. We relish the opportunity to analyse clients property portfolios as they stand relative to where they want their businesses to go and align their real estate strategy with business strategy.”

Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate delivers best-practice property services and solutions across Africa. It leverages the innovations, thought leaders and research that it generates as a global business, in a local and regional perspective. It has experience working across at least 35 different countries on the continent, including in North Africa.

“There is a real and exciting need for Occupier Services in African markets. With our long-established in-country relationships combined with our experience of working with local, regional and international corporates, we understand this need and can meet it with the best solutions back by the knowledge and experience of working across multiple markets,” concludes Turner.