Ukrainian Trade Guild is a real estate consulting company that has been active in the market since 2001. It is now one of the leading consulting companies, offering a complete range of services to owners, tenants and investors alike. Here, UTG's President Vadim Neposedov and Partner Vitaliy Boyko outline the company's growing involvement in the Ukrainian market and discuss the outlook for the markets in the rest of the region.
What has your company been up to in the past 12 months? What are you focusing on at the moment?
Boyko: In the first six months of this year UTG consulted on more than 30 development projects. The total area of the projects developed amounts to around 660,000 m², and includes shopping and entertainment centers, office and residential complexes. Also during this period, 72,000 m² of shopping area was put into service, which is 15% more than the same period last year. We have almost fully leased out the best Ukrainian shopping center, Ocean Plaza, and are now preparing to open it.
Furthermore, we have created concepts for four large shopping centers ranging from 70,000-140,000 m² GLA, with investments from US $100-350 million each. We are now following up on these projects.
How has your business changed along with the changes in the real estate markets?
Neposedov: One of the basic factors influencing the real estate market is the complete absence of credit for projects in Ukraine. As a result, since the 2008 crisis the pace of construction of some projects has slowed down and the construction of others was shut down completely. However, now new players that are more powerful financially have replaced the previous investors.
Commercial real estate in Ukraine is showing a level of profitability that is hard to attain in other types of business. In the last one or two years, a considerable amount of investment has been transferred from the production sector to the development of commercial real estate. In spite of the general crisis, our company has filled up its portfolio and is engaged in projects of a completely different quality.
What are your plans for growth, and where will your growth be directed in the coming years?
Boyko: As usual, the main vector of our company's development will be in providing follow-up services for development projects. In the near future we are planning to include architectural design and engineering consulting into the list of our services, aside from general consulting, property leasing and administration. Essentially, we are constantly forced to look at the issues we face in the process of project follow-up. Our company has enough qualified staff and sufficient experience to be able to offer such services.
Are you planning to expand into other markets?
Neposedov: Yes, certainly. Our company today is a leader in the Ukrainian market, the volume of which is limited compared to the markets in neighboring countries, and especially to Russia. We have some experience working in Georgia, Moldova and Russia, both in Moscow and in the other regions (Orel, Belgorod, Tyumen).
We are planning to increase our