SMART LIVING

Lebanon 2016 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jihad Abou Chacra, Vice Chairman of Sakr Holding and CEO of Remax Lebanon, on new concepts, the partnership with Remax, and reinvention.

Jihad Abou Chacra
BIOGRAPHY
Jihad Abou Chacra is the Vice Chairman of Sakr Holding and the CEO of Remax Lebanon. Abou Chacra joined Sakr Group in 2006 and is currently a member of the Board of the Real Estate group of companies. He has an experience that spans over 29 years in areas of legal, real estate development, corporate strategy, corporate services, business development and expansion, and business transactions across diverse geographical regions. He earned a master’s degree in finance and a bachelor’s degree in business management from the Universitié Saint Joseph.

How have technological applications made the difference in your projects?

We have visionary people leading the company and this adds to Sakr Real Estate's innovative approach to developments. We create concepts rather than mere changes and we incorporate the best technologies worldwide. This is something we developed in the Admir project, which will be in the intersection of three different municipalities, as it will expand over time to have a wellness center and a commercial hub. This type of project follows up on our strategy to develop smart living spaces in Lebanon.

How did the partnership with Remax start, and what are your expectations from this new chapter in Sakr's history?

We signed the partnership with Remax in December 2015 when we decided to cover the sales part of our business ourselves, sort of a one-stop-shop. We wanted a well-reputed international company that people in Lebanon could easily recognize. This is how we moved on to approach the owner of the Remax franchise in Lebanon to acquire 90% of the shares of the brand in the country in a two-sided strategy where we would benefit from a big name in real estate commercialization, and it would benefit from maintain 10% the shares of Remax while seeing its company grow as Sakr expands its scope of action in the local market. Remax is the number one real estate broker in the world, and this fills Sakr with an unprecedented opportunity to bumper its real estate sales force. We have entered a new era where Remax will further strengthen our position in the local market.

Once Remax is fully integrated to Sakr's operations, how will this transform your approach to the market?

The partnership will entail sales of franchises and licensing, as we do not do transactions or operations, and this will be carried by Remax. We established two particular subsidiaries to cater for Sakr's needs—Remax Properties for transactions on apartments, villas, and any other building project we undertake, and Remax Land to manage land spaces. These two subsidiaries come to complement the other six outlets the brand has in Lebanon and will go in line with the noted plan to open several outlets across the territory. What we will look into now is how to match the traditional Lebanese way of selling property with Remax's way, since they are different concepts with unique models. What I plan to do from now on is to promote the Remax model for potential agents, where they can get higher commission for at least 40% of the property price, while they only get 10-15% in the traditional agencies.

How will this relationship take Sakr to the next level, and where do you see the partnership going in the next couple of years with new projects that Sakr will have?

Adding Remax into our operations has multiple-sided effects. Firstly, we will have an autonomous sales force with independence in governance and administration. This will enforce sales since Remax will go in our own direction and it is also the largest brand in the world. Secondly, the Remax model has to do with a clear network of the business that gives us access to anywhere in the world with agents still getting their commissions despite allocating properties in third markets. This is an extremely dynamic model not available in other international real estate brokers. We do not want to deviate too much from the original business model of Remax since it has proven successful and unique in many ways; we want to build up on this model to create something beyond this success. Finally, once this business model takes a hold on Sakr's operations, I am sure we will move on to other markets to have coverage through our joint venture. Currently, our aim is to prove ourselves in the Lebanese market and once we are successful at home, we will go abroad and take our business model to the next level.