Macro-economically we are perhaps in a similar place to this time last year. The statistics out there can tell us whatever we want to hear – there are optimists and there are doomsayers. The reality is that there are positive areas of activity in all regional markets dependant on the fundamentals of location and asset quality.

With specialist real estate recruitment teams across Europe, Cobalt Recruitment is very well placed to view employment trends across the broad spread of real estate participants. These opportunities cover the consultancies, property companies, banks and funds. The skills required are however specific and employer requirements are in the main in direct response to market conditions. The drivers in the current market for the technical disciplines of property ownership are all about value preservation and enhancement for owners and cost cutting for occupiers. We are therefore seeing significant demand for skilled asset managers from the owners and consultancies are looking for outsourced corporate real estate skills.

In the mature markets of Western Europe, landlords are working hard to maintain their high quality assets and this is being achieved through concentrating on leasing and asset management professionals. Quality skills are in short supply both within the property owners and the consultancies and we have seen some high profile poaches going on amongst the agents, as the landscape is now solidly committed to the out-of-town retail parks and shopping centres sub-sectors.

The high street segment is quieter with the exception of the select prime locations. We are seeing sustained demand on the investment side for the core assets albeit the number of transactions is relatively low due to market liquidity. Asset management is not just about improving retail units and communal areas. To stay ahead of the competition, property professionals are having to be ever more creative in order to make their shopping centres work for them and to drive new sources of income. We are seeing that with headline grabbing pop-up stores and the emergence of kiosks and coffee formats in addition to advertising revenue initiatives.

In the emerging European markets within Russia, there is a trend towards the development of big box retail parks around Moscow where there is tenant demand and schemes are easier to get off the ground than more capital intensive and time consuming shopping centres. Albeit some equity funded shopping centres are in development and attracting a large number of talented retail project specialists.

As ever, those with the right market and professional skills are highly valued by those organisations active in the market.

Article first appeared in REurope Magazine, October issue. Written by Timothy Rowe Managing Director of Cobalt Recruitment.