LOS ANGELES-When CB Richard Ellis recruited top retail brokers in Southern California and Dallas recently, the new names were the latest in a long list that the Los Angeles-based company has added to its roster in the past year, as it has pursued a strategy designed to increase its dominance in the world of retail services and to refine the CBRE retail services model. CBRE has made this retail push without fanfare, but in the words of Anthony Buono, executive managing director of retail services for the Americas, the company’s goal is nothing less than “to be the gold standard for retail globally.”

CBRE is already the largest retail third-party provider in the country, but Buono tells GlobeSt.com that the company’s market share is still small because of the fractured nature of the retail services marketplace. Gradually, however, the retail services sector is consolidating in the same way that the office and industrial sectors did in an earlier era. CBRE’s strategy is designed both to take advantage of that consolidation and to help affect it.

As Buono explains to GlobeSt.com, CBRE’s strategy is focusing on three goals: becoming the gold standard for retail services by hiring the best talent, representing the best retail brands and creating a highly diversified platform. He says that the diversified platform is being designed so that the firm can do many things or one thing for a client, whether it is manage a property, lease a property, sell a property, represent tenants, build stores, develop real estate strategies, help a client recapitalize an asset or help a developer every step of the way from finding land for a project to developing a retail property and filling it with tenants.

As Buono explains to GlobeSt.com, retailers are expanding nationally and internationally as never before, with some companies planning hundreds of stories in scores of cities at one time. Expansion on this scale requires retail services firms that can operate in many markets at one time, unlike the traditional retail boutique firms that might specialize in space in a single city.

“Retail is one of the lines of business that has the greatest potential of all of our businesses in the Americas,” Buono observes. CBRE is already representing some of the world’s top brands in the form of Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Target, Bank of America, Tiffany’s, FedEx, Kinkos, Cingular and others.

One reason that CBRE’s retail business is growing is that “retailers and landlords are more and more seeking a more sophisticated, organized methodology to deploy their real estate strategies,” Buono says. He points out that Bank of America, for example, has essentially picked two companies to execute its highly sophisticated retail strategy in North America: CBRE and Jones Lang LaSalle. Another example of consolidation: CBRE is handling all of Tiffany’s work in Asia out of its New York office.

One of the biggest leaps that CBRE has made in expanding its retail capabilities came with its acquisition of Trammell Crow in 2006. “We added 40 retail people, all at one time, and that really helped us,” Buono says. “Our retail platform is better since we acquired the Trammell Crow Co.”

Besides the 40 new Trammell Crow retail specialists, CBRE has added 35 brokers from other firms, about 60% of them on the tenant rep side and 40% on the landlord side. Buono says that the expansion is not designed to hire any specific number of brokers but is instead aimed at identifying CBRE’s retail strengths and weaknesses and then hiring accordingly to improve the platform.

For example, CBRE has been recruiting very actively in New York City and the entire tri-state region of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey to expand and strengthen its retail practice there.

Among the latest CBRE hires are top Grubb & Ellis brokers Timothy McMahon, Michael Friedman and Will Evans. McMahon joins CBRE in Orange County, while Friedman and Evans have come on board in Dallas.

“One thing that surprises me is the number and experience level of people who have expressed an interest in joining our platform,” Buono explains. “That tells me that a lot of people see a lot of value in the capacity to harness and leverage all of the resources we have.”

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