At Accolade Industrial Fund, you focus on investing in industrial real estate. Why did you choose industrial buildings, what is their potential?
Industrial real estate definitely has a future. Six years ago, we knew that industrial halls and quality infrastructure for business would be increasingly needed. This is also proven in the last year when the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the whole world. Just as you want to have a new phone by the next day, you expect to have basic groceries by the next day. In everyday life, most people are not aware of this, but in modern times, modern halls are the places where fast delivery of goods is possible.
From the point of view of how the company works, industrial real estate is now an unrivaled element in supplying us all; they have become a much sought-after asset. We are in the phase of further transformation of traditional industry and it is already clear that industrial buildings will play a major role in it.
In connection with the Covid-19 pandemic, there is constant talk of negative effects on the economy or companies. How has this situation affected your interest in renting your buildings?
Recently, we have seen an increasing demand for industrial space in connection with "Covid"; e-commerce and logistics segments have seen a growing trend. We did not feel any outages of rent. Over the last year, the Accolade industrial real estate fund has added 215,560 m2 of new, environmentally friendly business premises worth 174 mils. EUR to its portfolio. It brought its investors an appreciation of 10.02% in the euro class and 12.02% in the koruna class.
We also note the partial return of production from Asia, as well as the greater need for storage, as the just-in-time or just-in-sequence model proved to be not entirely appropriate in the crisis.
An industrial building can also be environmentally friendly and a good place for employees.
Your portfolio consists of buildings that are built with the environment in mind. What makes them different?
Our parks not only operate in harmony with nature and the world around us but also guarantee a high level of energy self-sufficiency, efficient water management, and above-standard working conditions for employees. At Accolade, we have created a portfolio of buildings that meet the strictest standards of modern construction and environmental impact, as evidenced by their prestigious BREEAM sustainability certifications. We currently have one of the greenest portfolios of industrial buildings in Europe. An example of this is the most gentle modern hall in the world in the Czech town of Cheb, where it is flushed with rainwater, shaded by window blinds, the area is decorated with diverse greenery of local native species, a unique hotel for insects. There is an outdoor gym for staff and a relaxation area.
Today, Accolade has 36 percent of its portfolio of halls built on the so-called brownfields. The hall in Cheb was built on the site of former engineering, where during the communist era produced excavators for open-pit mines.
For whom are these spaces a suitable solution? What types of companies are your tenants most often and why?
We rent modern and sustainable industrial halls with a total area of 950,282 m2 to dozens of tenants from European and global business, operating mainly in the areas of logistics, e-commerce, and production. These include e.g. DHL, KION, Raben, Assa Abloy, Expondo or real Digital. The average length of leases is more than six years.
The halls must be ready, they must be built as functionally as possible so that 9 out of 10 clients who arrive can settle in the hall. We use global construction standards, thus ensuring that foreign investors have similar global conditions around the world. Only in this way can we ensure the long-term sustainability of real estate.
We offer our investors a stable return. Existing tenants are growing with us, new ones are coming, the interest in our halls is great. This is evidenced by the currently 100% occupancy, which significantly surpasses not only the market of Central and Eastern Europe but also the German one.
What opportunity will the expansion of Accolade to Slovakia offer?
In cooperation with Slovenská sporiteľňa, you are expanding your operations to our market. Why did you choose Slovakia?
The distribution of the Fund to Slovakia took place by natural development. We are responding to the growing demand and interest in this type of investment. We also wanted to offer Slovak investors the opportunity to participate in investing in the sustainable future of European business, in industrial real estate.
Slovakia is a very important market for us in terms of our foreign expansion. Our goal is to build a Central European financial institution that will bring Slovak investors the opportunity to participate and earn in the activities of companies such as DHL or Kion. It is also a fact that the Czechs and Slovaks have always been close to each other.
The construction of new industrial buildings can also be an opportunity for smaller companies, which can provide you with e.g. your services, and become your investment?
Industrial real estate plays an important role in the strategies of the world's largest funds, but it is also a sought-after asset for smaller investors. The dynamic growth of the logistics and e-commerce sectors has shown their investment potential. This is certainly an opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses as well. We always try to use local suppliers and local services where possible. Because we want to be a long-term neighbor with good relations.