Healey & Baker enters Bratislava market

One of the world's top real estate agencies, Healey & Baker, has agreed to team up with Spiller Farmer, a Bratislava agency, to open the first representative office of a major international leasing agency in Slovakia. Industry executives said the entrance of a firm of Healey & Baker's reputation is likely to enhance competition and give the Bratislava real estate market a higher profile among foreign investors.
With offices already in Prague, Budapest, and Warsaw, London-based Healey & Baker has established itself as a leader in the commercial real estate markets of central Europe. In Prague alone, the firm leased 35,000 square meters of space from January through June of this year - more than any other agency.

One of the world's top real estate agencies, Healey & Baker, has agreed to team up with Spiller Farmer, a Bratislava agency, to open the first representative office of a major international leasing agency in Slovakia. Industry executives said the entrance of a firm of Healey & Baker's reputation is likely to enhance competition and give the Bratislava real estate market a higher profile among foreign investors.

With offices already in Prague, Budapest, and Warsaw, London-based Healey & Baker has established itself as a leader in the commercial real estate markets of central Europe. In Prague alone, the firm leased 35,000 square meters of space from January through June of this year - more than any other agency.

They are entering into an agreement with Spiller Farmer, an architectural and real estate consultancy firm with offices in London and Bratislava, by which Spiller Farmer will be Healey & Baker's official representative in Slovakia.

Spiller Farmer, owned by British architects Laurie Farmer and Neil Spiller, started doing business in London in 1985 and entered the Slovak market with Farmer's move to Bratislava in 1990. Over the past six years, their clients have included British Airways, EuroTel, DHL, Conoco and the European Union. Farmer said the six-person Bratislava office has an annual turnover of 10 million Sk ($330,000).

According to Robert Neale, Healey & Baker's managing partner in Prague, an alliance with Farmer's agency will benefit both firms, especially as they strive to serve international clients. "It's a natural area to expand," Neale said. He added that beating his main Prague competitors was not a primary motivation to enter the Slovak market at this time. "None of these things are ego-led. They are business-led."

One of those competitors, David C. Neil, Jones Lang Wooten's managing partner in Prague, said Healey & Baker's move is "pretty significant" as "a starting point" for the development of Bratislava's real estate market. "It goes from no market to market" with Healey & Baker's entrance, Neil said.

While Neil said his firm will be watching Healey & Baker's progress in Slovakia, he added that Jones Lang Wooten is "not in a big hurry" to follow. "We will look at how [Healey & Baker's Slovak presence] affects our market share or our profit."

Some indigenous Slovak agencies, meanwhile, believe that the entrance of an internationally-known firm like Healey & Baker can help raise the profile of the entire market among companies abroad. "On one hand, they will be a competitor for Slovak real estate agencies," said Adriana Litomerická, the director of Bratislava-based Prvá Národná Aukčná Spoločnosť. "But on the other, it is very positive that they will bring foreign investment to this country through their contacts and clients around the world."

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