Avison Young completes GVA takeover and announces planning team growth

Canadian real estate firm Avison Young has confirmed the acquisition of consultancy GVA and now wishes to expand its planning team, particularly in London, its UK managing director has said.

The new Avison Young leadership team: (from left) Gerry Hughes, Jason Sibthorpe, Mark Rose and Andy Mottram
The new Avison Young leadership team: (from left) Gerry Hughes, Jason Sibthorpe, Mark Rose and Andy Mottram

The new firm, which inherits one of the UK's biggest planning consultancy teams, is now operating entirely under the Avison Young brand.

Last November, the Toronto-based real estate services firm announced it had entered into a "definitive agreement" to acquire GVA. On Friday, it confirmed that the deal had been finalised.

According to results supplied by the firm for the Planning Consultancy Survey 2018, on 1 September last year GVA had 91 chartered town planners and 113 planning fee-earners among around 1,500 employees based at its UK offices. It was the sixth-biggest employer of chartered planners in the study.

Its biggest planning teams are in its Manchester, London and Birmingham offices, according to the survey,  with 29, 23 and 19 chartered planner respectively as of last September.

Former GVA CEO Gerry Hughes is now Avison Young's principal and managing director for both the UK and global consultancy. 

Looking ahead, he told Planning he was expecting the Avison Young planning team to grow as a result of the merger but said he did not have an idea of numbers at this time.

He said: "Planning is a core part of our business and has been for a very long time. 

"The plan will be to strengthen that capability in each of our regional offices. There will be particular focus on building our London planning business. We will be seeing a significant number of new hires within the team." 

Hughes said that Manchester and Birmingham were other areas of potential growth though he added that the firm had no plans at this point to open any new offices.

He also said the firm had no intention to change its focus in terms of the planning sectors that GVA operated in.

Hughes said: "We do a lot of work in the residential sector and that will continue. We do a lot of city centre work, that will also continue. There's no particular sector that we think we want to focus on more;  it's more about general planning capabilty."

In addition to Hughes' new role, Avison Young principal and UK managing director Jason Sibthorpe becomes UK principal and president, UK; while former GVA chairman Andy Mottram becomes principal and managing director for Europe.

As a result of the transaction, Avison Young said it now has about 5,000 real estate professionals in 120 offices in 20 countries. 

In May 2018, GVA acquired Manchester-based HOW Planning.

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