SEGRO is an international real estate company that owns, develops and manages warehouse and industrial properties for hundreds of customers in the UK and Continental Europe. The company has been present in Poland since 2005.
Please tell us about yourself, what brought you to SEGRO and your vision for the footprint in Central and Eastern Europe?
I have been with the company since 2005, since SEGRO first opened its business in the region through the acquisition of a Dutch company where I had been working. My personal background is in the construction industry, followed by real estate, and I have seen the segment truly transforming over the years. Industrial in particular was far from popular back in the day, and it was at times surprising to my peers to see a woman managing a company operating in this arena. The sentiment is entirely changed at this point not only because warehouses are now better designed, equipped and technologically advanced, but also because market fundamentals themselves have shifted in such a way that the industrial real estate branch is absolutely essential to day to day activity.
Why do you think is behind this change of perception and the growing importance of the industrial sector, particularly now during a global health crisis?
Like all countries in CEE, Poland emerged out of communism with a shaky infrastructure and preparedness for global business. But in recent years, our GDP started growing significantly, Poland became a hub for several manufacturing industries, and the need for industrial spaces skyrocketed. The pandemic further accelerated this trend through the rise of e-commerce.
When the pandemic first hit, of course there were changes that we had to implement in our warehouses, from strict sanitization to better air circulation. There were also certain issues we had to face, like esome delayed deliveries, but we managed to keep the situation under control. Another matter that needed to be addressed was the transportation of goods and people, which ran the risk of delays or interruptions, but luckily there were no disturbances worth mentioning.
How much of SEGRO’s 8.8 million sqm footprint is taken by Poland, and what type of facilities are in highest demand currently?
We manage 1.4 million sqm of logistics and industrial spaces in Poland, a significant chunk of our portfolio, which makes us the 3rd largest industrial space owner in the country. Most of our facilities are situated within cities and at city borders. Placing them in these areas is beneficial for consumers, making e-commerce, logistics or production run smoothly and cutting delivery times. Demand is split among a wide array of customers, from SMEs looking for flexible spaces to larger logistics, research, automotive or pharmaceutical companies, to name but a few.
How does Poland compare in terms of scope of opportunity with the rest of the region you oversee?
Poland is the biggest market in CEE, and with the right market fundamentals to keep us confident in its ongoing potential – we are here to stay, and in fact plan on expanding. We also intend to expand into the Czech Republic, specifically in Prague, but finding good land there is proving to be a challenge. Land is a craved commodity everywhere, and in this sense Poland is a victim of its own success – there are many developers flocking to the region and competing for the best land plots. However, our target is to grow and strengthen our position both in Poland and the Czech Republic.
The EU is tightening the grip on regulations surrounding carbon emissions, how is this affecting your operations?
We started a program to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, and we are implementing a series of upgrades on our buildings that will have a significant positive impact on sustainability and the environment. We are planning to install PV panels on our warehouses, alongside the electric car chargers that can now be found alongside each of our facilities in Poland.
What are your main ambitions for the future of SEGRO, regarding growth and diversification?
We plan to maintain our strong foothold in Poland and invest in more land in the urban regions, Warsaw being the number one priority. The urban logistics sector is still underdeveloped in this region, and we see ample opportunity here.
What is your final message about Poland’s industrial real estate segment for potential investors?
Poland has developed in a mature market with adequate infrastructure, internationally renowned universities and well motivated, talented staff. The industrial sector is growing by the minute, with e-commerce at the forefront. It is unquestionably one of the most exciting real estate markets in Europe at the moment.
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