As the retail brokerage grows, it reconsiders its aversion to poaching new hires.
By Al Barbarino
After recently expanding several of its offices, including those in Manhattan, RKF’s Robert Futterman said the retail brokerage could stray from its anti-poaching past as it continues to grow amid ideal market conditions.
The firm expanded this month into 20,987 square feet on the seventh floor at 521 Fifth Avenue, as first reported by Commercial Observer. The firm also recently struck deals for larger offices in New Jersey and Miami and has made forays into London and Toronto.
Mr. Futterman said that the firm traditionally prides itself on organic growth, with several senior brokers managing and growing young brokers joining the firm in entry-level positions.
“That’s how we’ve grown,” he said. “We’re not really out there poaching talent.”
But as RKF expands, “there might be some veterans or up-and-coming stars” that it could take a closer look at, Mr. Futterman admitted, though he did not name names.
“There are brokers out there who are interested in joining RKF,” he said. “It would have to be the right people.”
RKF has bounced back strongly with the revitalized market after surviving the city’s darker recessionary days and adding to its roster of industry veterans could prove priceless amid unfettered growth.
The New York City offices currently hold 85 employees—49 brokers and 36 staff—and Mr. Futterman sees that number rising to as many as 120 within the next couple of years as the firm progresses amid a booming retail market.
RKF has offices in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco and Las Vegas. On the international front, the firm last fall struck a partnership with CWM Retail Property Advisors in London and this year opened a Toronto office.
“We’re bursting at the seams,” Mr. Futterman said, noting that in addition to strategic, consulting and brokerage divisions, the firm’s marketing department—a 15-strong group that handles everything from graphics to data to public relations—will be a key ingredient in fostering additional growth. “Marketing—and being street savvy and focusing on trends—is really what gives us the edge.”
That “edge” has led to exclusives on premier sites across the city. Among a long list of assignments, RKF is the exclusive retail leasing agent at the re-envisioned South Street Seaport, where it’s focused on “making a place where not just tourists want to come but all New Yorkers will want to come,” Mr. Futterman said.
Elsewhere, RKF is working with brands like Fig & Olive, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Rag & Bone and John Varvatos. And the firm plans to bring the London-based BOXPARK pop-up mall concept to the States. It is marketing more than 27,000 square feet of space at 430 West 15th Street, across from Chelsea Market in the Meatpacking District, and plans to bring an Eataly-type restaurant to the city by way of chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, who is “interested in getting something open by no later than 2015.”
Looking back on the firm’s history, Mr. Futterman can’t imagine a better time for a boom.
“We lived through 9/11 and we saw how Wall Street responded after the Lehman collapse,” he said. “I haven’t seen rents go down in New York since.”