LaSalle Investment Management, one of the UK’s leading industrial property management companies, directly manages warehouses and logistic facilities across the country. This covers approximately 14.6m square feet and is worth £1 billion. LaSalle also indirectly manages some 11.5m square feet of logistic space worth in the region of £720m, from Bristol to Scotland.
LaSalle invests solely in real estate, and provides clients with a fully integrated investment management process, including strategy and research, deal sourcing and acquisitions, asset management, debt and tax structuring, client and fund accounting and reporting.
Since 2011 LaSalle Investment Management has seen a major resurgence in demand for warehousing and logistics properties to levels approaching those seen before the recession, which highlights the need for occupiers and property owners alike to make sure they work with the best and most experienced property investment managers of the calibre of LaSalle Investment Management.
Following last year’s successful sponsorship of the event, LaSalle Investment Management is once again sponsoring the Completely Trade, Industrial & Logistics Marketplace event in Old Spitalfields Market in June. Toby Wenham, Associate Director at LaSalle Investment Management, specialises in warehouse and logistic property and spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.
Warehouse & Logistics News – First of all, Toby, as an Associate Director of LaSalle Investment Management’s UK office, what does your role cover day to day?
My day to day role is the asset management of commercial property. I specialise in industrial, warehousing and logistic stock. My job encompasses speaking to occupiers and letting agents, implementing the strategic business plan for each property, providing strategic advice to fund managers on potential acquisitions and disposals and sourcing new investment opportunities.
WLN – How long have you been with LaSalle? Have you always been involved with industrial property in your career?
I have been with LaSalle for 10 years and have been involved in the warehouse and logistics sector throughout my time here.
WLN – Do you personally visit individual tenants as part of your role?
Absolutely, the relationship between landlord and tenant is very important and it’s critical to understand your occupier’s current needs and future requirements. The only way to do this is to spend time with them!
WLN – Last year in the first Warehouse & Logistics News Property Focus supplement, we interviewed your colleague Paul Till, Head of National Business Space and a Regional Director of LaSalle Investment Management’s UK office. What’s been happening at LaSalle Investment Management as a whole since then? How has the UK business property market changed over the last few months?
Since the interview with Paul, we have spent more and more time looking at warehouse speculative development opportunities in strong locations, as occupational markets have tightened significantly and yields have substantially hardened for standing investments.
WLN – On the corporate side, who owns LaSalle Investment Management these days?
LaSalle Investment Management is a wholly owned subsidiary of Jones Lang LaSalle Inc, one of the world’s largest real estate companies, listed on the New York Stock Exchange (JLL), with $3.9bn revenue in 2012, trading in over 180 markets in 60 countries spanning five continents. Jones Lang LaSalle is also active here in the UK, offering real value in a changing world for real estate owners, investors and users. We trade completely independently of each other from day to day.
WLN – In this interview we’re focusing specifically on the warehousing and logistics side of your business. First of all, for the sake of clarity, what do you define as ‘warehousing property’ and what do you term ‘logistics’?
Historically, warehouse space was regarded as buildings up to 100,000 square feet and logistics 100,000 square feet plus. Over the last few years there has been a greying of the boundaries with retail lead occupiers wanting smaller logistics hubs (50,000 – 80,000 square feet) near strategic locations.
WLN – What specific warehousing and logistics assets do your team have under your management – how many locations, and how many tenants?
Within the National Business Space Team, we have a range of institutional multi-let estates, trade counters schemes and mid box units across the UK with big distribution sheds located near strategic motorway hub locations. At the last count, we had over 800 occupiers.
WLN – How are you set up to handle the different kinds of industrial property under your management? Do you have dedicated teams covering warehousing properties and logistics properties?
At LaSalle we are split up regionally. My own patch covers the South East, and each Asset Manager has a specialist sector, mine being warehousing and logistics. There is a very collegiate work ethic at LaSalle, the strategy/goals for each Fund are shared, and there are regular updates on performance and how your own properties are performing. Assistance is always at hand, and there is no such thing as a stupid question.
WLN – You look after property portfolios on behalf of institutional clients. Who are your institutional clients for warehouse and logistics properties? Do you ever publish customer case studies?
LaSalle is active across a range of real estate capital and operating markets including private and public, debt and equity, and our clients include public and private pension funds, insurance companies, governments, endowments and private individuals from across the globe. Due to the nature of our clients’ business we do not name them publically.
WLN – What kinds of warehouse and logistics operations are tenants in your properties? Are you looking for other warehouse and logistics tenants? Who should people approach in the first instance?
In the main they are light manufacturing, trade counter and distribution operators and of course retailers. We also have some non-traditional occupiers such as a record studio and a telephone exchange!
We are always keen to speak to potential tenants – they can easily check availability through the Completely Trade & Industrial link at http://lasalle.completelelygroup.com. Our letting agents also use this link.
WLN – In our previous interview with Paul Till, we talked about how you strive as a company to make your relationships with tenants as friendly and easy as possible. Does the same approach apply to warehousing and logistics properties?
Yes, it’s exactly the same; if you understand the occupier’s business you will understand their requirements. We believe the relationship between landlord and tenant must be mutually beneficial to work best and we spend a lot of time on this. A happy tenant is a sticky tenant, and a sticky tenant equals a happy investor/client. It’s simple really.
WLN – What proportion of LaSalle Investment Management’s UK business is currently warehousing and logistics facilities? Is this proportion growing? Are you actively developing this part of your business, or is it happening organically?
Historically as a house, we were always slightly underweight in warehousing, due to the higher risk attached to this sector and generally smaller lot sizes. However, given the rapid expansion of e-retailing we are looking at more and more opportunities.
WLN – In the warehouse and logistics sector in its current state, what difference can it make to occupants and owners’ businesses to work with a property management company like LaSalle?
In the UK, LaSalle represents a number of institutional Pension Funds, that are long-term holders of property and not scared to invest their own money into the buildings and common parts. I believe that occupiers feel more comfortable knowing that the property is owned by an Institutional Pension Fund.
WLN – Do you have total autonomy about how you manage your warehouse and logistics portfolios? How does this differ from the other areas of commercial property you’re involved with?
I have a certain Delegated Authority, which allows me to make decisions quickly. For those decisions that need further authority the vast majority can be dealt with in-house.
WLN – Does LaSalle’s warehouse and logistics property business cover the whole UK?
Yes – we cover from the South West and South East all the way up to Scotland on the warehousing side, with logistics sheds being located generally around the M1 and M6 motorways, the spinal distribution axis for the UK.
WLN – Do you have regional offices around the country, or is everything run from London?
Everything is run out of the London office but I spend much of my time ‘on the road’ listening to occupiers.
WLN – Do you manage warehousing and logistics properties in other countries? Do you have any multi-national clients in this sector?
Outside the UK, we have circa £2.2bn globally invested predominately in Europe, Japan, the US and Canada. The investor base is completely global.
WLN – What is your specific proposition for warehouse owners and warehouse tenants, on the one hand, and logistics property developers and logistics operators on the other?
To all of them, come and talk to us!
WLN – Do you publish any independent warehouse and logistics property statistics? What are the general UK trends in both warehousing properties and logistics properties?
We have our own in-house research department, who provide quarterly updates and feed into our decision-making.
Over the last six months both warehouse and logistic properties in strong locations have seen substantial yield compression.
The lack of product in core areas is also seeing letting incentive packages reduce and in some areas, rental growth has kicked in.
WLN – In your view, is the UK industrial property market showing good signs of recovery?
Yes, the signs are positive, we are seeing more enquiries and more occupiers looking to engage in early conversations on new leases.
WLN – Can you point to any regional trends that are emerging in warehousing and logistics property market?
Outside London, the South East and the core logistic regions, the regional markets are still tough but improving.
WLN – There are a lot of ageing warehouses around the UK. Do you act as project managers when it comes to modernising the individual properties in your portfolio, or do you bring in other people?
Generally we bring in project managers to run the project, but we will agree a defined scope of works having taken on board our letting agents’ comments.
WLN – With your global resources, it must be tempting for a company like yours to build and develop warehouses and logistics properties on spec. As a company, do you get involved in such projects?
We are looking more and more at this. Our first ‘spec’ warehousing scheme at Tottenham was market leading and fully let in 18 months. We are currently on site at both Basildon and Aylesford, speculatively constructing units ranging from 40-100,000 square feet, with proposed completion being Summer 2014. This is very exciting and is symptomatic of the economic recovery and the improved sentiment/investment amongst occupiers.
WLN – Do you get involved in helping landlords and tenants make their warehouses and logistics properties greener and more efficient, and reduce their carbon footprint?
We have a global sustainability policy, focusing on Energy and Carbon reduction and Sustainable Operations. On a day to day basis, we work close with our managing agents to achieve best practice including tenant liaison where required, insertion of green clauses in our standard leases, sustainable construction methods and operating smart metering. On new developments, we look to achieve where feasible a ‘Very Good’ Bream rating.
By focusing on energy efficiency along with creating high standards on our buildings, we believe that this will contribute to future investment performance through reduced obsolescence.
WLN – Are you (Toby) personally involved in LaSalle’s participation in the forthcoming Completely Trade & Industrial Event in London in June? As a company, what is you be doing at the event?
We are a main sponsor and will be attending in force throughout the day.
WLN – Finally, where do you see the UK warehousing property market and LaSalle Investment Management’s involvement in it going from here?
As e-retailing continues to expand and develop, we will see much more development around core transport links, whether that be road, rail or sea. LaSalle and LaSalle’s clients will be at the forefront on some of these developments.