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Exclusive: Cushman & Wakefield’s New Retail Head Discusses Goals, State of Market

David Gorelick, executive managing director and head of retail for the Americas at Cushman & Wakefield. David Gorelick, executive managing director and head of retail for the Americas at Cushman & Wakefield.

NEW YORK CITY—Last week Cushman & Wakefield announced it had tapped former Simon Property Group and Ralph Lauren executive David Gorelick as executive managing director and head of retail for the Americas. In an EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Globest.com, the 39-year old retail real estate executive discusses how his prior background will help Cushman & Wakefield service the changing needs of its retail clients and his views on the opportunities that exist in retail markets across the country.

Globest.com: What are your goals taking on this new position and how does your background at Simon and previously at Ralph Lauren help you in accomplishing those goals?

David Gorelick: I think that my background having worked in the retail industry the last 15 years allows me to take a different vantage point than had been taken previously. Gene (Spiegelman, the vice chairman of Cushman & Wakefield’s retail group) and the team have done an incredible job of developing a platform. So what I plan to do and how I plan to highlight it is really come at it from a retailer point of view and I am very excited to do so.

I have a different understanding being on both the retail side and the landlord side; working in-house both for a retail real estate organization at Ralph Lauren, but also having worked for retail companies like Diesel and Liz Claiborne. I just have a different perspective and may be able to leverage having worked in those environments…

I am really excited. I think that I am at point now where this is an opportunity to really take this role and really sort of create the occupier/retailer/owner/investor representation part of the business and expand it. It is an opportunity to find and create opportunities to grow the footprint for Cushman & Wakefield. It is an honor and a pleasure to work with and for what, in my opinion, is by far the best in class in our industry.

Globest.com: What prompted you to leave Simon for your new position at Cushman & Wakefield and what are the challenges you as well as others engaged in the retail sector face in overcoming the sometimes tumultuous atmosphere that current exists in the market?

Gorelick: This is an exciting time. The change for me was really prompted by an opportunity to do exactly what I said (previously) leverage the skills I have developed over the course of my15 years working in this environment. And with the changes in the landscape of retail, really being able to take an approach that would sort of reflect all the experience to date. Nothing really prompted the move except having the opportunity to look at it as an opportunity to engage a different sort of skill set.

I look at them (industry challenges) as all positive. Where someone sees challenges, I see opportunities…

Globest.com: What is your sense of prevailing trends in the retail market and is there a clear distinction between retail in Central Business Districts in Gateway markets and suburban markets where many properties are attempting to reinvent themselves?

Gorelick: There is definitely a shift, a change and an evolution, which is really exciting. I think the Central Business Districts are going to go through a change. The main markets like—New York, Chicago and Washington, DC—are going to have the most dynamic changes, but retail is going to continue, retail will always continue. Some of the changes will be that individual retail assets and individual properties will need to figure out how to best position themselves through the services that we offer and through the lens of what each physical market needs in order to meet the demands of that market and the changing environment.

Globest.com: Can you explain the importance of working with John Morris, head of Cushman & Wakefield’s Logistics & Industrial practice group, on the firm’s newCommerce initiative and the importance of integrating eCommerce with bricks and mortar real estate for your clients?

Gorelick: I think that (e-commerce) obviously is going to be one of the biggest changes in the retail landscape going forward. As you look at all of these brands, whether they started as a digital format or started in a bricks and mortar format, there is an integration of the digital platform that creates a synergy between the industrial aspect and the bricks and mortar resource. And the ability to leverage both and to be able to service the client on both sides is really going to be a driving force for John and I because I think what it offers for our clients is an opportunity to be ahead of the changes in the digital/bricks and mortar retail landscape.

Globest.com: Will you be working at all or seeking counsel with Gene P. Spiegelman, the vice chairman of Cushman & Wakefield’s retail group, who we understand helped in the search, and has decided to return to the production side of the business?

Gorelick: Absolutely. I have known Gene for literally 15 years. He is an incredible broker. He is an incredible business leader. He is very well respected and he is going to play a very, very integral role in Cushman & Wakefield’s retail platform.

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