What has your company been up to in the past 12 months? What are you focusing on at the moment?
Since taking on the challenge of leading a property and asset management agency in Central and Eastern Europe from December 2011, I have set tough, but achievable targets for myself and the team at TGM. I have set a new focus on enhancing the already existing customer service ethos at TGM, breaking new ground on training and CRM programs, achieving new levels of synergy and consistency. Repositioning and restructuring TGM has opened many doors and invitations to tender across a wider region than we have traditionally operated.
How has your business changed along with the changes in the real estate markets?
Clearly the crisis has had a huge impact on financing for developers, which has slowed overall development in the region. Additionally retailers are more cautious about expansion and are seeking larger fit-out contributions to de-risk their expansion as much as possible. In this regard, now more than ever we attach enormous importance to our research, so we can decide which territories support more retail expansion.
We have recently launched our Customer Relationship Program, TGM POWER, which stands for Positive Outcome With Every Relationship. As a result of this, retailers know that we understand their business model and work with them to ensure their success in any schemes that we are involved in. We are also about to launch TGM Concierge Services, which is the next stage in our Tenant Relationship Management program at our trophy office buildings. TGM likes to be seen as the missing piece in the jig-saw that ensures that Landlords & Tenants work together in harmony to achieve mutual success; this is very often not the case in our industry.
What are your plans for growth, and where will your growth be directed in the coming years? Are you planning to expand into other markets?
Primarily our focus is on consolidating in the markets that we are already active in with a particular focus on Poland, Russia and Croatia. Additionally we see that the Balkans and ex-Yugoslav countries are still underdeveloped and therefore provide opportunities for us to work with developers and provide our leasing and property management services. We have a five-year plan that will see us continue to build upon our core region, establishing ourselves as the leading organically grown Central European property and asset management company. Having said that, we are extremely ambitious and will go where the opportunities lead us, as long as the return justifies the investment.
What differentiates you from your competitors?
We naturally sit alongside any of the major property/asset management companies, however our lean structure means that you get direct access to more senior people working on your asset. As such we can deliver greater levels of customer service to our clients and partners. We like to get as much knowledge of our clients’ business models as possible, in order to provide a seamless extension and high-level delivery of their business plan. Our USP is our people, our knowledge and our creativity. This sets the tone for an environment that provides a malleable structure which can be shaped to suit the individual needs of our clients. TGM are also owners of real estate so we absolutely understand the issues that face our landlord clients on a daily basis.
In your opinion, what is the outlook for the retail real estate market in Central and Eastern Europe over the next 12 months? How does this compare to what’s happening in the rest of Europe?
If I had been asked this question a month ago, my answer would have been very cautious, however we have seen some extremely encouraging sales data from our schemes from September, particularly in Croatia. It is always a question of consumer confidence; in Poland commentators are doing their level best to talk the market down just because second quarter growth was less than initially projected, but 2+% growth is still very positive growth, and very few European markets can claim similar figures. Overall, I think we will see growth, some markets faster than others, but the recovery has certainly started, albeit tentatively.