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The ‘Alliance’ of real estate people – Times of Malta

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In the dynamic world of real estate, Alliance Real Estate Group has emerged as a trailblazer, defying industry norms and setting new benchmarks for success. Under the leadership of its award-winning CEO Michael Bonello, Alliance Real Estate Group has experienced unprecedented growth, expanding its footprint from seven founding branches to 30, and more than tripling the number of property advisers on its books to over 350, in the process.

Bold decisions for change

Alliance’s journey began with a bold decision to break free from the constraints of an international franchise model. CEO Bonello shares that the decision for independence, was driven by a realisation of serious master franchise shortcomings that remained unaddressed.


Buy/sell, rent/lease residential &
commercials real estate properties.

With the unanimous support from his entire team, this pivotal moment led to the establishment of an independent Maltese real estate brand, and marked a significant turning point in the company’s history.

Strategic planning and seamless transition

Its first year was dedicated to meticulous planning and execution. With the support of CFO Leslie Xerri, the guidance of business adviser Ivan Bartolo and legal expertise from Dr Norval Desira, a seamless transition was set in motion.

Noteworthy was the strategic investment in human and technical resources, including dedicated training for property advisers, led by CPO Frank Borg, and the formation of an in-house Compliance Unit headed by MLRO Mario Gauci and Ritianne Spiteri.

Its newly recruited CMO Pierre Mizzi, concluded the branding design, website and social media channels set-ups, while Group COO Gordon Attard handled the technical side of the transition.

“We planned to switch off our old system on a Friday and switch on a fully fledged and operational replacement with thousands of active property listings by the following Monday morning. Looking back, it’s amazing how everything worked so smoothly, and the number of new listings kept increasing exponentially,” Bonello notes.

At the time, Alliance operated seven founding branches: Alliance Tigné managed by Gordon Valentino, Alliance Strand managed by Angelo D’Arrigo and George Tabone, Alliance Marina managed by Fabien Debono, and Raphael Degabriele, Nicky Sammut, Paul Sammut and Ana-Marija Zafvirovska and Francois Spagnol managing Alliance Swieqi, Alliance Pender, Alliance San Ġwann and Alliance Santa Venera respectively.

Letting division – a strategic launch

The launch of Alliance Letting 18 months after the main brand launch was a strategic move, aligning with the completion of a non-compete period. Abigail Simiana, appointed as letting COO, played a pivotal role in rapidly building a robust letting team, positioning Alliance as a major player in the letting sector.

Franchising – uniting former competitors

The introduction of franchising in March 2022 marked a paradigm shift for Alliance.

Bonello expresses pride in achieving what no other Maltese brand has done before, creating a united front from individuals who were once competitors.

“That first franchising announcement in March 2022 was the culmination of months of hard work to structure an equitable franchising model that could take us to the next level of our corporate growth in year three,” he explains.

“First to join were Alliance Balzan, run by Jamie and Lorraine Dimech and Alliance Attard, run by Erika Deguara and Nikki Vella Petroni. These were two completely new localities for us to operate from and while we already had our flagship Alliance branch in Sliema, newcomers such as Alliance by Thirty-Four run by Adrian Friggieri and Gordon Cachia and Alliance by Fine Homes, run by Andrew Debono, who are also based in Sliema, demonstrated that successful synergies can be found with people who were previously competitors.

“One franchise office we had opened in the Sliema Fortizza area was forced to shut down due to serious failures to adhere to our standards,” he continues.

Another very well-established real estate company that decided to rebrand their premises to Alliance, was Ina Pavlova with her team opening Alliance by Steps Properties in St Julian’s, in June of that year.

Bonello goes on to explain how those first six franchises proved that the franchising concept made for a stronger Alliance that was ready to continue accepting more people who wanted to be part of the growing Alliance family.

Working with developers

To build stronger relationships and better understand the needs of property developers, Sandro Chetcuti was invited to join the company’s board of directors soon after his term as president of the Malta Developers Association ended in 2021.

Some of the largest ongoing residential projects that have taken on board relevant suggestions from Alliance are improving their developments for the benefit of end buyers.

‘Phenomenal’ growth in 2023

With a growth mindset launched at the company’s annual meeting, an expansion programme led to Alliance opening 17 new branches in the span of a few months this year.

Spearheaded by head of franchises Naomi Ver Elst Micallef with the support of a strong C-Level team, the growth was strategic and purposeful. New branches were established in both familiar and previously untapped localities, showcasing Alliance’s commitment to serving diverse markets.

Bonello details the “trailblazing journey”.

“We expanded north with the signing on of Graziella Vella with her team, opening Alliance North in St Paul’s Bay and Oren Chasanmus opening Alliance Rental Solutions in Sliema. Also in March, we opened Alliance Central Business District and two branches in Fgura – Alliance South with Kevin De Leonardo, Roderick Zahra and Rodnick Abdilla, and Alliance Fgura with Kris Bugeja with his team.

“Our 19th branch opening was Alliance St Paul’s Bay with Ottavio Suda, Natasha Cassar, Margaret Gauci and Marise Camilleri, and the 20th followed soon after with Alliance The Place, spearheaded by co-owners Chris Cachia and Kristine Bonnici. Then came Alliance Naxxar with Jeffrey Mallia and Marco Satariano in charge. This was another completely new locality for us.

“In May and June, we welcomed another two established offices, coming from two other franchise networks. Mauro Sammut came with his team of 14 sales and letting advisers to open the new Alliance M Estates branch in Gżira and Charlene Xerri Gatt opened Alliance Gozo with her team also joining en masse.

“BCP Properties is another opening we celebrated around the end of June. Co-owners Mantvydas Matthew Narusevicius and Pavle Brajkovski are building a great team at this branch, as is Andrew Agius at Alliance Mosta. Andrew also joined us from another agency to take over this prominent corner office, and it’s great seeing him build his team.

“More enquiries kept coming in over summer, and by September we welcomed Ahmed Ali to open Alliance by Malta Commercial Agency in Ta’ Xbiex.

“Żabbar was another location where we didn’t have a branch before, until it was opened by two Alliance stalwarts – Gordon Valentino and Kenneth Grillo. As much as we love welcoming new people to Alliance, we’re excited to see a highly experienced property adviser rise to become a business owner and manager with us.

“Mark Molnar is another estate agency owner who decided to forgo his own brand to join Alliance with his team of eight property advisers. Mark is now operating Alliance by Let Buy Mark, from a prestigious office on the Sliema front. The last two teams to join us this year also left from an international franchise. Dylan Callus and his team of 12 property advisers joined us to open Alliance Tarxien, and Joe Caruana Curran joined with his nine advisers, to open Alliance Ibraġ.

“My biggest satisfaction is that most of these people left well-established franchise networks or in some cases, their own solo businesses, to come plug into our system and start working together with positive synergies on the same team. Now I can say that my dream has come true.”

2024 ‒ a year of consolidation

As the Alliance family nears 400 people, Bonello announces a strategic decision to halt the acceptance of new franchisees in 2024. The focus will shift towards consolidation, optimising operations and further strengthening the existing branch network for the benefit of both Alliance personnel and clients.

Continuous improvement

Alliance remains dedicated to the continuous improvement of its services. The establishment of the Alliance Academy and this year’s collaboration with ICE Malta for digital media training, show the commitment to enhancing the skills and expertise of its property advisers, Bonello says.

The focus on exclusive listings through the Alliance Selected product, led by industry expert Jeremy Borg Grech, reflects a commitment to excellence and client satisfaction, he adds.

Future initiatives

Looking ahead, Alliance plans to continue its trajectory of innovation and growth. The Alliance team envisions the launch and enhancement of new products, further improvements in market offerings and the ongoing development of its personnel through comprehensive training programmes.

Conclusion

Alliance Real Estate People stands as a testament to the power of vision, strategic planning, and collaborative efforts, Bonello says.

“The company has not only carved a prominent niche in the Maltese real estate market, but it is also redefining industry standards. As the journey continues, the focus remains on unity, innovation and a commitment to delivering exceptional value to clients.”

Follow Alliance on alliance.mt and on social media.

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