AGM & Annual Dinner, 23 October 2018, The Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall

For the first time in a number of years, the SPR AGM and Annual Dinner were held on the same evening.  The RAC Club in London’s West End provided the elegant setting for both events.

Opening the AGM, Kiran Raichura, the outgoing chairman, observed that combining the two events had succeeded in ensuring a quorum for the meeting, something that had proved difficult of late.  Kiran described a busy 2017-18 for the Society including seven seminars (three of which were on retail), two site visits and six social events, as well as the introduction of two new research prizes – for practitioners rather than academics – which were awarded later at the dinner. 

Incoming chair Oliver Kummerfeldt set out the Society’s plans for the year to come.  A key aim for the next 12 months is to have insightful seminars on areas like ESG and impact investing, technological change and changing occupier requirements. Another is to improve communications with and between members of the Society, while a third is to refresh the offer to potential sponsors.

As the Society has been running at a small loss over the past few years, it was proposed to raise the membership from £50 to £60 in 2019.  Honorary Treasurer James Purvis explained that while the costs of running the Society have been increasing, income from advertising and sponsorship have fallen back.  The meeting closed by voting in the new committee members for 2019 – Lesley Males, Sherin Gooi, Alex Dunn, Zuhaib Butt, David Inskip, Joel Suissa, Hamish Smith and Luisa Janisch – and thanking those who were leaving – Kiran Raichura, Vanessa Muscarà, Charles Conrath, Mark Clacy-Jones, Avydas Jadevicius, Craig Wright, Farhaz Miah, Isabel Dunnell and Christopher Babatope – for their efforts.

After pre-dinner drinks, 158 members gathered for the annual dinner, sponsored by Cobalt Recruitment and Oxford Economics.  Early in the evening two new SPR research prizes were awarded.   The Under 30's Prize was won by Emily Williams and Hamish Simmie of Savills Research for their paper on new measures to increase delivery in the UK housing market.  The Open Prize was won by ‘Skyward’ by Ian McGuiness and Robert Holden of Knight Frank, which investigated how many new residential units could be built above existing dwellings in London.  The prizes were sponsored by recruitment company Red Tiger Consulting.


Later, moving tributes were paid to Joe Valente, who was posthumously awarded an SPR fellowship.  SPR President Andrew Smith recalled his incisive and often contrarian research views on Europe’s real estate markets during an impressive career at DTZ, Allianz and JP Morgan. Joe’s briefings and conference presentations – which were always laced with wit – unearthed truths buried beneath the headline numbers.   Peter Reilly, his former colleague at JP Morgan, simply evoked the deep friendship that had developed between them when working together over the past ten years.

Joe’s family chose Bloodwise, the UK's leading blood cancer research charity, to benefit from the raffle, which raised £1,298.55, significantly exceeding last year’s total.  Members’ generosity was inspired by the many valuable prizes donated by the industry, including a drone and a £150 voucher for Michelin star restaurant Chez Bruce.


This year’s after dinner speech was given by Faraz Shibli, who transported the listeners away from the RAC Club to the somewhat less comfortable surroundings of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.  Faraz described the challenges of a 2,000km trek across this inhospitable terrain, which included removing giant ticks from the genitalia of their camels . But what shone through was the hospitality of the nomad population who gave them shelter.

Tim Horsey