“The market is evolving and trends have changed in all segments, focus has shifted to the needs of the people, developers, and investors need to create their product having this in mind”, Fulga Dinu, Country Manager Operations, IMMOFINANZ Romania. More investments and innovations are ongoing, to strengthen the company’s position in the top three commercial real estate players on the Romanian market.
Published in “Romania’s Real Estate Yearbook 2020”, launched in September 2019, click – here, to read online
Which milestones in the evolution of Immofinanz in Romania determined in your opinion the current market status of the company and its success so far?
In 2004 we placed our first investment in Romania. Ever since that time IMMOFINANZ strengthened its position as one of the leading commercial real estate players in Romania based on its strategy of concentrating on its office and retail portfolio and the development of its brands – myhive for offices, VIVO! for shopping centers and STOP SHOP for retail parks. An important milestone in the evolution of IMMOFINANZ in Romania was definitely the launch of myhive brand on the local market in 2017. The brand’s success relies on its hotel-inspired design, the wide range of provided services and the valuable community it creates among its tenants. With this concept we are pioneers on the Romanian market. We already have three myhive buildings in Bucharest and we have recently started a refurbishment process for another two buildings in Bucharest. The feedback from our tenants is very good and this is reflected in the high occupancy rate of myhive buildings.
How do you characterize the current status of the market in Romania and in relation to other countries in the region?
Romania had a steady growth of roughly 3% since 2013. The economic growth rates place Romania on the map for foreign investors, as the country is becoming a driver in the region. For example, the transaction volume on the real estate investment market continues to enlarge and it is distributed throughout the three sectors: office, retail and logistics properties. Moreover, we see in all our CEE markets good GDP growth, accompanied by decreasing unemployment and increasing purchase power.
What have you seen changing more recently, which are the main challenges for 2019/2020?
Recently I have noticed a healthiness and structure of the market given by the experienced developers that understand the ingredients of this business and are activating on the market. This automatically leads to a good product that is immediately targeted by longterm investors. A note worth mentioning is the fact that more and more local developers and investors appear and this proves the trust in the Romanian market. The market is evolving and trends have changed in all segments, focus has shifted to the needs of the people, developers, and investors need to create their product having this in mind. Romania still offers very attractive yields, with a gap of over 2% compared to our neighboring countries. This provides huge opportunities in the medium term for the current investors when the yield compression will kick in.
How do the structure and the functions of an office park are being transformed to better serve the tenants/client’s needs?
As the place where an employee spends most part of the day, the office environment has become a very important parameter of everyday life and it has to respond to various important requests and wishes of the people. Nowadays office buildings or office parks have to offer much more than simple work spaces and this is also IMMOFINANZ’s major focus. A good example is IRIDE, our office park where we have an existing myhive building and will bring to existence another two. With the myhive experience, we are constantly striving to be up to date to the constantly changing needs and requests of our clients. I believe that myhive is the concept of the future for the office and it sets the trends in the office segment. There are four pillars that define myhive concept: contemporary design, attentive service, lively infrastructure and active communication. Every day, myhive tenants are friendly greeted at the welcome desk, in a warm and pleasant atmosphere. This is all enhanced by several service offers and support from the myhive Community Managers, as well as an exclusive lounge. In the same time, great value is placed on networking among tenants. Our myhive Community Manager takes care of organizing educational, sports or leisure events as well as fairs and workshops that contribute to creating a very strong community among the tenants.
What type of investments is IMMOFINANZ currently implementing for this objective?
We are constantly investing in the quality of our portfolio and in the rollout of our three brands and services. As previously mentioned, in Romania we have already started a refurbishment process for two office buildings that will be re-opened next year under the myhive concept. Also regarding our retail properties, we are currently in a modernization process at VIVO! Cluj in order to accommodate new and attractive brands and offer an improved shopping experience for our customers. At IMMOFINANZ Group level, we have two important acquisitions in the office segment in Warsaw and Prague, more precisely two high quality properties – Warsaw Spire Tower (71,600 sqm) in the Polish capital city and Palmovka Open Park (26,000 sqm) in Prague. In the retail segment, we have already gained our position as leading operator of retail parks in Europe. Our STOP SHOP branded retail parks currently cover 81 locations in nine countries. In 2019, we will grow our retail park portfolio to about 90 locations and the overall goal is to reach more than 100 locations.
Do you see technology disrupting in a fast pace the business models of your tenants and partners, can you forecast a few trends due to the impact of tech and IT&C related innovations?
As technology and digital world rapidly expand beyond the IT departments, they fundamentally change the way we communicate, learn or interact both professionally and personally. In real estate, the challenge is to understand what our customers wish, especially on retail and office areas. The digital world has become essential given the fact that a normal person spends a lot of time online, and the reality is that people can work remote or buy online, if they want. This definitely involves a major shift of mentality which means to focus primarily on the end-consumer; our consumers’ wishes moved from providing a product to offering a service or an experience. And this is what we do at IMMOFINANZ: we don´t only offer a location, but a service which includes social events as well as even watering your plants, if you happen to be a tenant in one of our myhive offices.
Which are your objectives for 2019/2020, how do you see the evolution of IMMOFINANZ in Romania?
The strategy of IMMOFINANZ is to further keep developing its o_ce and retail portfolio as well as strengthen its position in the top three commercial real estate players on the Romanian market. On the o_ce segment we will continue to make significant investments to provide best-in-class properties and services to our clients. In the retail segment, we have further plans to improve the experience in our VIVO! shopping centers.
How about key priorities, recommendations for the business and public sector to maintain a competitive market and attractive products in the region?
The real estate market remains an ever-changing environment. In the office area, as the labor market is increasingly competitive, companies are more and more focused not only on attracting but also on keeping the valuable tenants and employees, and office spaces play a crucial part in this. Landlords have to invest in sustainable buildings with modern design and provide diverse services to fulfill the tenants’ needs and also contribute to their general wellbeing. This is also our major focus. With the myhive experience, we are constantly striving to be up to date to the constantly changing needs and requests of our clients. In the retail domain, due to a very high-paced contemporary way of life, it is crucial to offer people in the shopping centers a 360°experience, respectively focus on good quality experiences supplemented by leisure places, children playgrounds, and family areas. And last but not least it is very important to stress the fact that we are very grateful to the communities where we are active and consequently it is essential to have a good co-operation with the local authorities and actively support the communities in any way we can.
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Strategic Partners: WDP & Globalworth | Office Partner: Speedwell | People Flow Partner: Kone | Logistic Partner: DPD | Innovation Partner: Sixense | Headline Partners: Zacaria, Immofinanz, Colliers, Anchro Grup, Electrogrup, CBRE, Brisk, Transilvania Constructii, Avitech