PRAGUE-Headlined by former world champion figure skater and hometown legend Otto Jelinek, Colliers International has made a series of appointments to its commercial real estate operation here, growing the staff by 30% in anticipation of rising cross-border interest in the former Soviet Union stronghold. Thomas Rideout, appointed managing director of the Czech team to begin the year, announced the additions and changes to the office’s organizational structure. Some divisions are being revamped, he explains, and new ones are being created to broaden the company’s platform.

“I am confident that these hires and our new strategy will put us on the right track to becoming the leading force in the market,” says Rideout. While Jelinek’s appointment is the most high profile, Rideout also cites the value of other arrivals such as Luke Dawson from the Colliers office in British Columbia; new regional director of finance Martin Sobisek, who leaves a similar post in Apple IMC’s Czech office; and Carlo Gradl, a commercial real estate veteran active in the Prague market for 14 years. The German native has been retained as director of office listings and retail services.

As in the case of Dawson and Rideout, who was previously Colliers VP for corporate services in Canada, Jelinek also has a history in that country. Besides being a well-regarded business and political operative, Jelinek was an organizer of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. In his new role, Jelinek will serve as chairman of Colliers International Central and Eastern Europe.

Jelinek will be a “key advisor” for Colliers, predicts Rideout, with the Czech ice icon having also previously served as Deloitte Central Europe’s chairman. For his part, Jelinek calls his arrival “a wonderful opportunity…with a very dynamic and impressive company” and vows the firm will emerge as the commercial real estate services standard in the Czech Republic. “The only question now is how long it will take us to get there,” he says.

The latest hires were also implemented with the goal of making Prague the dominant office for Colliers in Central and Eastern Europe, says Rideout, pledging that “ground-breaking services” will be available to clients of the operation. Colliers is also established in Bratislava, Bucharest, Budapest and Warsaw, all areas that the group aspires to become the dominant force as well.

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