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May 29, 2019  

CBRE Promotes Research Pro to Retail Chief

CBRE has turned to a research specialist to head its U.S. retail investment-sales team, as the firm seeks to provide clients with more strategic advice during a time of upheaval in the sector.

Melina Cordero, currently CBRE’s global head of retail research, assumes her new role as managing director of capital markets on July 1. She is replacing Mark Bratt, who left in January to become chief executive of Los Angeles-based Westwood Financial. Bratt spent four years in the post and led the firm to the top spot in Real Estate Alert’s retail-broker ranking last year.

Brokerages typically fill such roles with top producers or, as in Bratt’s case, buy-side professionals. Cordero has a different background: In her latest post, she produced in-depth analysis about the retail industry that she presented to clients, fostering relationships that company executives said will help in her new job.

“We see retail today as being the business most in need of thoughtful, strategic, data-driven advice,” said Chris Ludeman, global head of capital markets at CBRE. He added that clients “expect us to be leaders, not just implementers of their strategy.”

Cordero, based in Washington, will lead a team of 130 sales brokers, including about 30 who focus on institutional trades throughout the Americas. Before joining CBRE in 2016, Cordero was director of analytics at Path Intelligence, a UK-based data and customer-analytics technology firm. She is a graduate of Yale University and the London School of Economics.

“The goal is to change the conversation about what we can do for clients,” Cordero said. “We are going to be more full-bodied. We can talk about trends, about what is changing and where the market is going.” She added: “The hunger for data and trend information is particularly strong in the retail investor community, because so much is changing.”

Ludeman noted that CBRE’s retail practice goes well beyond investment sales to include providing tenant representation for major retailers, researching consumer demand and working with landlords as leasing brokers — all of which provide the firm with a “treasure trove of data” that can be analyzed for clients. He also said that Cordero “has spent extraordinary amounts of time with not just investors, but retailers who are trying to create new winning strategies about how to execute on their growth plans.” He said that would enable CBRE to “inform investors more fully about what retailers are thinking.”

Bratt, formerly an executive at shopping-center giant DDR, was the first person to hold the retail sales chief position at CBRE. The firm created the post as part of a reorganization of its capital-markets division that was aimed at fostering greater collaboration among brokers nationally, better serving clients and landing bigger deals, including portfolios. CBRE also has chiefs in the multi-family and industrial sectors. They report to Ludeman, who also leads the office team. Bratt’s departure was amicable, and he was among those who recommended Cordero as his replacement.

In Bratt’s last year in the post, CBRE edged out perennial champ Eastdil Secured as the nation’s top broker of retail sales of $25 million and up. CBRE boosted its volume by 45% to $4.3 billion, for a 24.6% share of brokered sales. Across the industry, however, 2018 deals were down 1.6% to $21.7 billion — the lowest level since 2011.

“The retail world has been tremendously disrupted, and it is going to continue to change,” Cordero said. “The clients really want support, and they really want partnership in their strategy moving forward.”