Steven McKenna to take over as Sherry FitzGerald CEO in July

Founder Mark FitzGerald says business will be in “good hands” as he hands over baton

Mark FitzGerald (left) with incoming CEO Steven McKenna

Mark FitzGerald (left) with incoming CEO Steven McKenna

 

Former Connacht rugby player Steven McKenna is to take over as chief executive of Sherry FitzGerald, Ireland’s biggest estate agent, from July 1st.

He will succeed the company’s co-founder Mark FitzGerald as CEO. Mr FitzGerald, who owns 40 per cent of the business, has held the role for the past 35 years and will continue as the company’s non-executive chairman.

Mr McKenna (39) joined Sherry FitzGerald in 2008 as financial controller of the residential business. He was promoted in 2010 to group financial controller, and to group finance director in 2012, a role he has since occupied.

He has worked closely with Mr FitzGerald and the company’s senior management team in re-positioning the business post the economic crash in 2008.

This has involved expanding its network of franchisees, mostly outside the Dublin area, opening more company-owned branches and rebranding its commercial business under the brand of global player Cushman & Wakefield.

Like all Irish estate agents, Sherry FitzGerald retrenched in the recession. Group staff numbers reduced to 200 with about 150 people employed by its franchisees around the country.

Today, the group number has increased to 388, with the headcount at its franchisees around 300.

The group’s turnover has more than doubled in the past five years, from €16.3 million for 2010 to €37.3 million last year, as the Irish economy rebounded to become the fastest growing in the euro zone.

Commenting on the choice of Mr McKenna as his replacement, Mr FitzGerald said: “Steven is a great appointment as he has that unique balance of strategic, execution, and people skills. He is also smart, calm, clear, and a really decent person.”

Having never worked in the industry before, Mr McKenna “came in at the deep end and rolled up his sleeves” to help the business restructure and grow again, Mr FitzGerald said.

Mr FitzGerald said there was plenty of scope for Mr McKenna to grow the business and the brand further in the years ahead. “The business is in good hands.”

Mr McKenna, who hails from Galway, trained and qualified as a chartered certified accountant with EY, and holds a masters in business practice from UCC. He is married with two children.

In relation to the current housing crisis here, Mr FitzGerald, a son of former taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, said there needed to be a “greater equilibrium” between supply and demand but noted that few major cities in the world “seem to be getting it right”.

Sherry FitzGerald is the biggest player in the Irish residential market. It sells about 7,000 homes in Ireland each year and has a 15 per cent share of the market.