Bernard Nicod, the owner and driving force behind Groupe Bernard Nicod, entered the world of property in 1975 when he joined a real estate company. Initially thwarted in his ambitions to work in sales, after relentlessly pursuing his goal for over a year, his persistence finally paid off and he was given the challenge of selling an apparently unsaleable property, which he managed to do within just 15 days. This secured him his coveted transfer to the sales department, where he achieved a turnover of 56 million CHF in his first year, an eight million CHF increase on the previous year.
On the basis of this success, he was appointed Sales Director. In 1978 he continued his meteoric rise by becoming a part-owner of the company. Following the retirement of the company owner, Mr. Nicod decided to leave and set up his own company. The determined pursuit of his goals which ensured early success in his career has continued to be at the core of his work, and this resolve has underpinned his ongoing achievements.
Since its inauguration, Mr. Nicod has steadily expanded his company, and today it is involved in a range of activities in the real estate business. The company undertakes a series of new projects every year, buying existing buildings and either rebuilding or modernizing them before letting the properties within both the private and commercial arena. For example, 21 banks across the region currently lease their premises from Nicod.
The company also provides a property management service, handling all the associated activities, from agreement of contracts and rent collection to organization of maintenance works. Property management is carried out by a general building firm which is a fully owned subsidiary of Nicod.
In addition to the rental side of the business, Nicod also sells properties, including some of those properties it develops. These are sold through its own network of eleven agents, which are responsible for both the sales and letting arms of the business.
The company also employs 17 architects. It has a total of 230 direct employees but can also boast a further 1,200 positions created externally through its various activities.
One of the most important skills which has ensured Bernard Nicod’s success is the ability to focus clearly on its market. The company operates only in French-speaking Switzerland, and Mr. Nicod is not concerned with projects outside of that area.
“Switzerland is currently experiencing huge market growth and a healthy economy,” he says. “Our regional knowledge and experience is key, and for this reason I am only interested in local projects.”
Within this region, the activities of the company are quite generalist, and it does not target any specific type of client. It leases accommodation to individuals as well as commercial premises to institutions. Its property stock ranges from social housing to top-of-the-range apartments.
Today there are 42,000 tenants in 2,800 buildings. The company manages 330 housing communities and 6,000 owned units. It also owns as yet undeveloped land to the value of almost 200 million CHF.
Since its foundation, the company has gone from strength to strength. Current turnover in relation to its building activities is in the region of 320 million CHF, 400 to 500 million CHF for property sales and 400 million CHF in rental income.
“I count a number of factors as being critical to our success,” explains Mr. Nicod. “We are professional, we work extremely hard for our clients, we are represented in all of the key locations through our agency offices, and quite simply, we satisfy our clients’ needs.”
As far as the future is concerned, Mr. Nicod is very positive. “My motto is work, work, work,” he continues. “Only through professional performance and dedication can anything be achieved. I place huge demands on myself and my staff, and they are valued for their outstanding ability, delivery and commitment. This philosophy has been successful for me and will continue to be successful. I am not motivated by money; this is my vocation.”
With his sound philosophy and clear focus, Mr. Nicod is destined to continue to be a leading player in the real estate business in French-speaking Switzerland for many years to come.