In April, the retail sector got the best news it had received since the pandemic started: retail sales for the month of March jumped 9.8%—the biggest monthly jump since May 2020. Retail REITs are also performing well this year, with malls and shopping centers up 33.6% and 32% respectively as of mid April, according to BTIG.
The retail industry didn’t necessarily need these indicators to realize that their sector, long beleaguered and then battered some more by the pandemic, was looking up. The men and women who lead the retail real estate sector have understood over the past several months that even though the landscape was grim at that moment, better days were ahead. And why not? It was these same men and women who laid the groundwork for those better days through investments, strategies and planning. On the following pages you will meet some of these retail real estate leaders, chosen for their individual and corporate contributions for the industry. The last year has admittedly been a slog but they are now looking forward to brighter times.
HANLEY INVESTMENT GROUP’S BILL ASHER & JEFF LEFKO
Since 2018, the Bill Asher and Jeff Lefko Retail team at Hanley Investment Group Real Estate Advisors has been ranked as the top producing team at the firm for the past three consecutive years. Team leaders and EVPs, Bill Asher and Jeff Lefko cemented their reputation early on, closing 54 retail property sales totaling $300 million in transaction volume in the first year of their partnership at the firm, earning them a spot among the top 1% of brokers. By year two in 2019, they increased their sales volume by 65%, closing 89 total transactions. The pandemic proved to be no obstacle for the team, which closed 87 retail properties totaling more than $360 million in transaction volume in 2020. Many of the transactions in the last year also closed at record low cap rates, including the sale of a new Chipotle Mexican Grill with a double-drive-thru in Lathrop, CA, for $3.2 million and a 4.05% cap rate, and the sale of a drive-thru-only Starbucks in San Pedro for $3.1 million and a 3.58% cap rate. In the last three years, the team has closed 250 transactions valued at more than $1 billion.