A top city property personality has said that knuckling down and thinking outside the box is the best way to successfully combat the recession.

David Bucknall, chairman of international property and construction consultancy Rider Levett Bucknall, said those companies who perform best in recession follow the simple rules of chase your cash; focus on operational management improvements; careful investment in people, services and customer relationships.

“Recession is tough – it requires disciplined leadership because you have to keep investing in the fundamentals that sustain your business for tomorrow, whilst dealing with the downturn of today,” he said.

“If all of this is done carefully and with confidence, I believe, our business and others who follow these principles will exit the upcoming long recession much stronger.”

Bucknall has significant experience of managing business through recession during his 50-year industry career and says that the recent multi billion pound aid package to the banks has returned some liquidity and confidence to the markets where banks should soon lend to one another and to customers. But there is no doubt that we remain in a recession and very flat capital project marketplace for the foreseeable future.

“Everybody has benefitted from the very strong 15 year demand which has now closed down and will, I believe, stay down for another two to five years.

“Consultants in the property sector should have boxed clever and invested wisely during the last decade or so. Concentrating on improved quality services, a strong team and carefully developed “tough market” services are the mainstay when times get tougher – which they inevitably will.

“What doesn’t change is that in business, whether in sickness and in health, people work with people who give the very best advice to the very best benefit of the client. That’s why continued investment in the calibre and skill of a workforce is essential as opposed to “slash and burn” headcount cutting.

“We are dealing with a market which inevitably when it picks up will go back to a very cautious lending regime with more sensible multiples – i.e. three times salary mortgages instead of five or even ten. Long term this is a good thing. It gives firms a chance to re-evaluate and cut costs that have got out of hand.

“Like many other companies, Rider Levett Bucknall will not escape from the recession. However, around 18 months ago we anticipated a downturn and switched resources towards some of the more robust market sectors such as nuclear, defence, education and affordable housing. Furthermore creation of our Global Practice in 2007, enables us to operate in a number of worldwide areas, wherein which demand for capital projects will be sustained.

“We recognise that some of the former strong sectors such as private housing, commercial and leisure are not currently attracting investment but we will continue to invest in them while they are down because we know they will come back. Our teams are applying their core skills and added value initiatives to give clients a competitive edge in the current climate.

“This could be amongst the longest and deepest recessions that I have seen, but I am confident that we will emerge with a greater market share.”