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Colliers International Establishing A Retail Presence In Chicago

Chris Irwin of Colliers International Chicago

The increasing popularity of e-commerce may have led to a lot of turmoil in the retail world, but Colliers International-Chicago does not seem fazed. The company just hired Chris Irwin for the newly created position of senior vice president for retail sales and leasing, and asked him to build up a new team that will focus on Chicago-area retail. 

“The company had focused on the office and industrial sectors, and that filled their plate, but never really had a retail presence, so this was a void they wanted to fill,” Irwin said.

“Chris understands the many nuances of the Chicago retail market and is the right person — with the charisma, skill and network — to help us successfully launch this platform here in the region,” Executive Managing Director and Market Leader Jim Carris said.

Irwin was most recently a senior vice president of retail sales and leasing with Jameson Commercial Real Estate. In nearly 10 years with the company, he completed more than 300 lease and sales transactions on behalf of local and national clients. In 2016 he was the firm’s top producer. Notable deals include the $10.1M sale of 1200 North State St. and 8-12 West Division St. in Chicago.

Colliers Chicago has roughly 200 staff in its suburban Rosemont and downtown Chicago offices, and Irwin said he plans to recruit between 10 and 15 people, from entry level to highly experienced, for the new leasing and sales team, a move which could mean hundreds of millions in new business. 

“Last year, I did $25M in sales, and I’m one person,” he said.

Irwin said it is an exciting time for those in retail, even though so many outlets recently shuttered their doors. To thrive in the internet age, retailers, landlords and brokers must think creatively, and come up with new concepts, rather than simply negotiating traditional deals, Irwin said. And he expects the most successful brick-and-mortar stores will be the ones that also focus on online sales.

Hanna Andersson, for example, a children’s organic clothing brand, recently opened its first Chicago location at 3452 North Southport in the Southport Corridor, he said. It does a brisk business online, but also wants a brick-and-mortar presence for parents who prefer seeing and touching possible purchases.

The Colliers name has already brought new business opportunities. Speaking to Bisnow last week from Dublin, where he was on vacation, Irwin said he met with Colliers' head of retail in the city, and they spoke about a client with a number of locations in Dublin and Boston that may want to expand into the Chicago area.

“One of the reasons I made this move is I wanted a bigger playground to play in, and it’s amazing to be at a company with offices all over the world and this type of business funnel.”