Savills group chief executive Jeremy Helsby is to retire at the end of this year, after a 39-year career at the business.
Helsby, who has spent 11 years in the top global post, will be succeeded by Mark Ridley, currently CEO of Savills UK and Europe.
Ridley will take up his new role on January 1, 2019. Previously CEO of Savills UK commercial business from May 2008, Ridley became CEO of Savills UK in January 2013 and then added the title of CEO of Savills Europe in September 2014.
He has worked for the company since 1996 and has over 30 years’ experience in the UK, European and Asian markets.
The news came as Savills revealed that year-on-year revenue growth at its UK residential transaction business helped it to enjoy a stronger-than-expected finish to 2017.
This, along with substantial commercial transaction volumes in both the UK and a number of Asian and European markets, meant that its underlying results for the year to December 31, 2017, would be ahead of previous expectation, it said.
Its shares closed up nearly 4% yesterday at 1,003p.
Born and raised on the Wirral in north-west England, Helsby began his career as a land agent in Market Harborough in 1977 before joining Savills in 1980. He transferred to Washington DC in 1984 to help establish Savills’ US business but a crash in the financial markets led to the US business being shut down.
He ended up back working for Savills in London in its City office, leasing space to commercial tenants, in 1988 and became head of the City office in 1993.
He accepted the chief executive’s role in 2008 with some misgivings, according to a 2014 interview in the Financial Times, because property agents tend not to respect “corporate c**p”.
But he added: “That’s what being a chief executive is about — winning the respect of the troops and steering the ship when life is tough.”
Nicholas Ferguson, chairman of Savills, said: “Under Jeremy Helsby’s leadership Savills has been transformed into a leading global real estate advisor, tripling revenue and offering the full range of transactional, asset management and consultancy services to clients in the world’s prime real estate markets. Jeremy has successfully both internationalised and diversified the business during his decade as chief executive.
“We are all delighted that, following his retirement from the board at the end of 2018, Jeremy’s experience and energy will remain available in an advisory role supporting our US management team in further growing the Savills US business.”
Helsby said: “I am delighted that Mark will succeed me as group chief executive and I look forward to working closely with him over the next 12 months to ensure a smooth handover. I am very pleased that from January 2019 I will be able to support Savills in further growing its US business.”
Ridley added: “I look forward to working with Jeremy and the rest of the board over the year ahead as Savills continues to build on its global platform, delivering our clients with the very best service and ensuring we remain the international real estate advisor of choice in key global markets.”