DougraySmith – formed in 2014 by veteran chartered surveyors Chris Dougray and David Smith – has advised on deals including the £49.1m sale of Edinburgh’s landmark Haymarket development to property investor M&G Real Estate.
The four-acre mixed used site on a former railway goods yard next to Haymarket station is being developed into a new prime location for Edinburgh, including two hotels, cafes, bars, restaurants, retail and around 350,000 square feet of office space.
“We were sales agent on the sale of Haymarket, one of the last remaining large scale development opportunities in Edinburgh city centre,” explains Dougray. “There was strong interest from a wide range of buyers and capital sources, who recognised the uniqueness of the opportunity. The process confirmed international awareness for Edinburgh’s real estate dynamics.”
Quality of life
It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of Edinburgh’s quality of life in terms of attracting people and businesses, Dougray says.
“Edinburgh’s talent and labour pool is more important than any other factor in attracting new business to the city,” he adds. “It is very telling that 42% of all graduates choose to remain in the city - they have fallen in love with all that Edinburgh has to offer!”
The city’s size is also key to its dynamic ecosystem.
“Edinburgh is not a huge city in international terms – and this proximity helps creates real synergy between various bodies and sector clusters,” Dougray suggests. “This includes the universities, fintech companies, tech start-ups, City of Edinburgh Council and so on. There’s a tangible ‘happy to help’ culture and the cross-fertilisation between the clusters is strong.”
Over the last ten years, there has been a ‘seismic and hugely positive’ shift into the tech, fintech and start-up scene, he adds.
Edinburgh’s talent and labour pool is more important than any other factor in attracting new business to the city. It is very telling that 42% of all graduates choose to remain in the city - they have fallen in love with all that Edinburgh has to offer!Chris Dougray, Director, DougraySmith
“Edinburgh is absolutely on the main global stage for activity in these spaces and we see this continuing apace,” he says. “The significance of The University of Edinburgh should not pass without mention – we see their positive influence increasing over time.
“We’ve also seen new entrants into the financial services space. Whilst the global financial crisis was damaging, these new companies have stabilised the sector and we anticipate more activity here – we have the talent pool to service that.”
As one of Edinburgh’s most active real estate agents, DougraySmith has worked closely with the city council’s Invest Edinburgh team and the wider city council services over the years.
This has included taking part in Invest Edinburgh’s development opportunity showcases at Marché International des Professionnels d'Immobilier (MIPIM) – the world’s biggest property exhibition, held annually in Cannes, France. Invest Edinburgh also leads an investor and developer showcase to China, where opportunities in the city are promoted through the Edinburgh Shenzhen Creative Exchange – a partnership between City of Edinburgh Council and Shenzhen Creative Investment Group, a conglomerate specialising in cultural, creative, educational, tourism and tech investment.
“We have joined the Shenzen activities in China and hosted a number of Edinburgh dinners at MIPIM,” Dougray explains. “These have consistently proven successful and all the more so for having senior executives of the council available for direct interface with parties interested in coming to the city. This has given great comfort that the city is open for business.”
Dougray says he and Smith consider themselves ambassadors to Edinburgh and are always happy to support wider city promotion.
“We regularly call on our friends in the City of Edinburgh Council to meet organisations considering a move to Edinburgh – and the can-do positive attitude is hugely helpful, and refreshing,” Dougray says.
“Invest Edinburgh and its partners lead a wide range of activities – on a global basis – and DougraySmith has attended numerous of these events. We work heavily with Invest Edinburgh on the China strategy, and we are headed to San Francisco later this year to provide support in attracting a tech hub to the city.”
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