What do you believe are the key challenges in commercial real estate across Europe?
The real estate sector has always been characterised by constant change. In this respect, structural changes like those we are currently seeing are not really new – although the dizzying speed at which this is happening is. The challenge now is to anticipate today what demands the most discerning users with their very individual life models will place on the buildings of tomorrow – think ‘work, live & play’. One integral component of all planning is sustainability. As the real estate/construction industry, we make a significant contribution to global CO2 emissions. It is our duty to embrace our responsibility for the welfare of future generations through prudent business practice.
What is driving your decisions for expanding into new locations?
We always consider new locations, geographies and cities in a multidimensional research system. Diverse criteria play a role, such as economic potential, culture and the economic and socio-economic development of a region. We also look at long-term climatic models in order to understand how locations and geographies change over longer periods of time. Of course, we also study the micro-level – in other words, which specific locations we believe have a promising future and which do not.
What are the key sectors you see yourself growing in?
Since the foundation of our family office, we have made investments in the retail, office, residential and hospitality sectors. We believe in the future of retail in specific regions and structures, just as we believe in the future of office spaces. We will continue to move and grow in these sectors, following – as before – our timing-focussed investment approach.
How has the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic changed your investment strategy?
We have carried out continuous and intensive monitoring of all asset classes in order to identify attractive entry opportunities. As a result, we also strengthened our investments in sectors that the pandemic had caused to temporarily fall by the wayside among the wider investor community, such as the hotel industry.
What role does sustainability play in your investment approach?
At AM alpha, our foremost aim is to make as positive a contribution as possible to the change that needs to take place within the markets and their players towards a more sustainable system. In light of this, ESG plays a decisive role in our investment decisions – as mentioned above, the real estate and construction industry is a leading contributor to resource consumption and CO2 emissions on our planet. We often invest in existing properties that have a significantly better carbon footprint than new builds and, through extensive management and investment, produce buildings with an excellent carbon footprint and a first-class rating. One example of this is our conversion of the Rylands Building in Manchester, which we are putting to a new and sustainable use as a net-zero carbon building.