In the early 1990s, the Czech commercial real estate market was underdeveloped and ripe for the picking. JLL was among the first wave of companies looking to set up shop in the newly created Czech Republic, and the four-man company was to be the industry heavyweight’s first office in Central Europe.
“The real difference came in 2004 when the Czech Republic became a member of the EU,” says Managing Director Tewfik Sabongui, who joined the company in 2001. “There was a major influx of foreign companies looking to set up local offices and needing premises. We also saw the arrival of major European funds aiming to invest in the fledgling market.”
The rapid increase in demand meant that JLL also grew rapidly in response. A major acquisition in 2011 consolidated its position among the top tier of real estate service providers while a clutch of awards confirm the quality of its service.
“Among our biggest transactions in 2015 was the lease of a 25,000 m² premises for SAP,” says Mr. Sabongui. “We were very proud to be involved in one of the biggest transactions taking place in the Czech Republic.”
Commercial premises have historically been the strongest growth area in the Czech market. However, in recent years, demand for industrial and logistics premises has also risen.
“The Czech Republic has always had a strong industrial sector; with its low wages and non-unionized labour, it is highly attractive to foreign companies,” explains Mr. Sabongui. “We look to create value for our clients by sourcing the properties that will best serve their needs.”
JLL is also active in the retail, hospitality and residential sectors. It works on behalf of corporate clients and owner occupiers as well as investors, developers and landlords. “We use our expertise to help our clients maximize the value of their real estate assets throughout the investment life cycle,” says Mr. Sabongui. “We offer a comprehensive portfolio of integrated services. Our strong research team and excellent contacts are valuable assets when identifying the best investment vehicles for our customers.”
JLL also invests heavily in people, making use of e-marketing, social marketing and staging social events for its clients and partners. “We have an annual beach volleyball tournament on 1 September in aid of charity to which we invite all kinds of companies involved in the real estate value chain,” says Mr. Sabongui. “As well as raising money for good causes, it helps us to develop useful contacts and strengthen relationships.”