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EL SEGUNDO, CA-CB Richard Ellis has launched its first-ever “retail services hub office,” an 8,000-sf office that houses a staff of 25 that is headed by top retail brokers and is the company’s first concerted effort to provide the same depth and breadth of corporate services to retailers as it does to other corporate clients. Jim Kruse, senior managing director in the company’s El Segundo office, tells GlobeSt.com that the new office is intended as a prototype for the centralized servicing of multiple-market retailers, investors and developers.

Kruse’s post as chief of CBRE’s LA South region includes oversight of the new retail services hub office, at 2041 Rosecrans Ave. Heading the staff of professionals, account managers and support personnel in the hub office are executive vice president Richard Rizika, first vice president Stan McElroy and vice president Greg Whitney, all of them longtime retail specialists.

Kruse tells GlobeSt.com that CBRE, which will be unveiling the new retail services hub at next week’s annual spring gathering at ICSC, came up with the idea for the retail hub as the the result of a sort of “perfect storm” of circumstances. One element of that perfect storm is that the retail industry has changed dramatically in recent years, with a growing number of national retailers who have requirements for a broad range of services in multiple markets.

“Twenty-five years ago, every segment of our business was pretty much geocentric,” Kruse says, with brokers typically specializing in a particular geographic area that was relatively small. Now, he says, the business has shifted from a geographic to an account-oriented focus, so that real estate services firms have got to be thinking “at least regionally,” if not nationally. The new CBRE retail hub, for example, is already servicing the likes of Target, Home Depot, Chevron, New York & Co. and Mervyns.

Kruse tells GlobeSt.com that another perfect storm factor contributing to the launch of the retail services hub was CBRE’s acquisition of Trammell Crow Co. last year. “When CBRE closed the acquisition of Trammell Crow, we bought into a company that had very highly defined the corporate services integrated approach that all kinds of corporations want, whether it be retailers, oil companies or other types of corporations,” Kruse explains.

Kruse adds that CBRE “has literally taken over the real estate function in a lot of Fortune 500 companies and has become their real estate department,” providing a menu of services that includes administering their leases, choosing sites, planning their space, managing their facilities, building out their space, opening new locations and helping them strategize. It stands to reason, he says, that CBRE can offer a similar approach for retailers. “If we blend the integrated services strategy and coordinate the kind of multiple-market effort that so many of these retailers want, we think we can bring something to the market that does not exist out there,” Kruse says.

Kruse says that in designing the new retail services unit, Rizika, McElroy and Whitney engaged in “a lot of ongoing dialogue” with clients about how best to serve them, with the result that the hub office reflects ideas from both CBRE and its clients about how best to pool the company’s intellectual capital and resources. Among the services the hub provides are tenant and landlord brokerage representation, shopping center consultation, asset services, investment properties expertise, urban markets expertise, project management and mortgage banking through CBRE Melody.

If the new retail hub office works as well as CBRE hopes and expects, Kruse says, the company is likely to open more such hubs in other locations. “We think it’s working well already,” he says, adding that other CBRE offices are taking a “wait-and’see” approach to the new office before they decide if they want to establish such hubs in other parts of the country. “I think they will start looking very seriously at this once we have some significant wins above and beyond what CBRE has provided before,” Kruse says.

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