Marcella Scarlett, Business Reporter
LP Azar Limited has acquired auctioneer and real-estate brokerage CD Alexander Realty Limited, a near-60-year-old firm which it is reorganising and rebranding to reflect a younger persona with a modern edge, according to director Andrew Azar.
LP Azar bought the company in May from the Musson Jamaica group, which owned CD Alexander for 26 years, since 1987.
The company was founded by Bobby Alexander in 1944.
"When I took over, I would never have thought of CD Alexander when I want a piece of real estate to buy. CD Alexander is widely associated with an older colonial mentally, but we want to make it a little friendlier so that the average person will want to come and do business with us," said Azar.
LP Azar is so much smaller than the multi-company Mussons conglomerate, he said, that the realty company "won't get lost" and is likely to become one of its main business lines.
"We paid a little over J$20 million for it. Remember CD Alexander used to be a golden-age name", which lost some of its lustre over the years, said Azar. "I want to build it back up," he said.
The deal allows the new owners use of the established name. The acqusition price, said Azar, was mostly for the goodwill associated with the brand.
LP Azar is a fabric company on a push to grow and diversify, mostly through acquisitions. Its purchases in recent years have included a complementary fabric house - Pablo's; an attraction in Portland - Somerset Falls; and now the real-estate company. It also began operating a Tutti Frutti yoghurt franchise earlier this year.
Azar said since the acquisition, the headquarters of CD Alexander has been moved from its downtown location to Marescaux Road, beside its new parent company LP Azar. He said the relocation allows him to personally oversee the company's transition.
"We want to turn it into a one-stop real estate shop where you can come in and get everything real estate under one roof," he said.
Younger sales team
Musson did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the reasons for selling the asset and what it plans to do with the vacated office space downtown.
LP Azar has already installed Franz Jobson, an attorney and former CEO of Cayamans Track Limited, as general manager and head of the legal department; and Betty Phillips as sales manager. The offices have been modified and a "younger, more upbeat" sales team has been recruited, said Azar.
He is also finalising talks with an undisclosed South Florida real estate company to list properties managed by CD Alexander — an arrangement that will attract an annual fee for unlimited listing on their website. That arrangement — through which LP Azar hopes to catch the eye of overseas clients interested in acquiring Jamaican property — is expected to kick off in two months.
CD Alexander's list of services, Azar said, include real estate sales, rentals, property valuation, appraisals, auctioneering, surveying, and a new addition, financial guidance.
"We have entered into several arrangements with some of the leading financiers to ensure that our customers get the best rate out there. Sometimes when a person is doing a transaction they are all over the place, they are not sure of what to do, so we are just trying to eliminate the confusion of them having to run from one place to the next to get the single transaction done," he said.
"Plus, the banks take advantage of people when they know the customer is not aware of their tricks."
The arrangement with the financial institutions includes, he said, Jamaica National Building Society and National Commercial Bank Jamaica.
Additionally, clients will also have access to legal services offered by Jobson and his team at a discount rate.
"You don't have to do anything else with us to get this discount either," Azar said.
The transformation of the business is expected to be completed in six to eight months, he said.