Introducing DeVono Cresa Portfolio Solutions
An Interview with Paul Danks & Dan Robinson
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO JOIN THE REAL ESTATE SECTOR?
Dan: The scope and opportunities in real estate drew me to the sector. I have over two decades of experience working with multinational firms in North America and Europe across corporate real estate, supply chain and logistics, management consulting and restructuring. I have also advised numerous real estate firms on turnaround and restructuring. I spent the last decade building the European practice for Newmark Knight Frank and co-led their
global corporate platform with Paul. My real estate specialism lies in supply chain and logistics.
Paul: I had a keen interest in real estate early on in my life. I entered the profession via a traditional route, armed with a degree in real estate. I worked for the UK Government’s Valuations Office Agency before moving into the private sector. In the early 2000s, I led the efforts of my then firm in pioneering global portfolio solutions and global logistics & supply chain consultancy. For the last four decades, I developed expertise in advising global corporate
occupiers, especially in the industrial and logistics sectors.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO DEVONO CRESA?
Paul: Dan and I come from occupier-centric backgrounds. As DeVono Cresa (DC) solely advises occupiers, it aligned closely with our interests. Alongside this, my previous association and high regard for Cresa’s global arm and having worked with their brokers earlier in my career made DeVono Cresa an appealing place to work.
Dan: The main attraction was that DeVono Cresa is expanding its capability and reach. The firm is highly regarded and is already a pivotal firm within the Cresa network. We wanted to support DC in this growth. We also wanted to build upon DC’s links with the network of global Cresa offices. The passion of DC’s joint-CEOs passion for building an occupier-only business aligned with our goals. So, we decided to accept this challenge and have not looked back
WHAT SERVICES DOES THE PORTFOLIO SOLUTIONS (PS) TEAM PROVIDE TO CLIENTS?
Dan: The PS team works comprehensively with clients across multiple geographies. We help them to position and preserve their portfolios to meet the needs of their business. These needs and requirements are not specifically just transactions such as acquiring or disposing of real estate properties. It can involve questions such as ‘Where do I go Why do I go there? What do I need? What are the risks and opportunities for me if I relocate?’
Paul: We help coordinate multiple services and locations under a single umbrella, allowing the client to gain visibility, implement efficiencies and control the cost of occupation of real estate in much the same way as they control other costs within their business. An important element of our work lies in managing multiple relationships. Our client is often both the executives at the centre of the organisation and their operating divisions across the world. As a result, we must be considerate to the matrix of relationships and sometimes competing aims and ambitions and show empathy to each part of the client’s business operation, whilst ensuring the desired result is achieved in the most efficient and cost effective manner. To an extent, we achieve this through applying governance and standard systems and processes across the whole portfolio.
HOW DOES THE PS TEAM PROVIDE A FULL SERVICE OFFERING GLOBALLY?
Paul: We strive to put the best in class / expert team in place, regardless of the client’s location or sector specialism. We support our clients in the preparation of clear and concise statements of work and then agree on deliverables and timescales. If there is a Cresa office in that geography, we will first connect them. Also given my previous career links and being the President-Elect of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) in Europe has allowed me to develop numerous international connections. We leverage this and our other global networks to provide an international, full real estate service offering to our clients.
CAN YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE OF A CURRENT PROJECT OR CLIENT?
Dan: We are currently working with a leading food and beverage packaging company. The company is environmentally innovative, and its packaging is 100% compostable and reusable. We are providing them with a strategic shortmedium-and-long-term view to ensure they cater to their current and future client base. At present, as the client expands their business to Europe, we are helping them to find a short-term solution for their warehouse (approximately 40, 000 sq ft) and distribution needs in the United Kingdom (UK). We will then help them to
secure an office. A part of the expansion plan, we will also be advising on the countries and cities where they may consider for future manufacturing and distribution to serve customers in mainland Europe and the UK. This location strategy, among others, includes evaluating the risk and benefits of the infrastructure in various countries, labour, power supply and water. We will also assess any government grants or incentives that would help attract an organisation of our client’s scale or magnitude.
HOW DOES PS HELP IN MANAGING A CLIENT’S PORTFOLIO?
Paul: PS can help measure real estate / business performance in a meaningful way. There are numerous Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including specific real estate occupational cost-related ones that you can set to manage a business. We help senior leaders and real estate managers to evaluate whether they are operating their real estate efficiently, for example, in terms of space utilisation and business locations. We also leverage platforms such as Valo which is Cresa’s Portfolio Management tool.
HOW HAS COVID-19 IMPACTED YOUR CLIENT WORK, AND WHAT ARE ITS SHORT-TERM IMPLICATIONS?
Paul: In our current conversations with clients, we advise them to engage both with their landlords and other bodies to ensure they are obtaining all of the support that is available to them, in terms of rent relief, incentives, grants etc. Looking forward, our clients recognise that the wellbeing of their staff and indeed customers must be a primary objective. Managing “risk” in all its shapes and forms, is now recognised of even greater importance. Thus, we are
supporting clients in looking at their overall “supply chain”. Our clients will change the way they work, operate, manage their distribution mechanism and the location from which they do it.
Dan: In the short-and-medium term, we anticipate a change in the way we interact with our clients, but currently, we are keeping the dialogue going. In some of the discussions, firms have mentioned that they are thinking about the need for the office versus working from home. However, the camaraderie and morale that you can create in an office environment with colleagues can be hard to replicate at home, which will make decision-making difficult. We will see offices that are in the Central Business District (CBD) bifurcate, and companies will move to peripheral areas so that their employees do not have to travel into the CBDs. Given the uncertainty and anticipated government safety measures, it is going to be hard on the real estate industry as it is a relationship-based business. It is easier to maintain existing relationships, but in-person meetings help develop new ones and being unable to do so, may make it challenging for real estate businesses.
HOW WILL COVID-19 IMPACT THE LOGISTICS AND SUPPLY CHAIN SECTOR?
Dan: We will see reshoring as companies seek to bring manufacturing closer to home. Additionally, we will see inventories increase, resulting in a rise for the need for warehousing and distribution space. Soon, atypical sites will function as fulfilment, last-mile or click-and-collect centres coupled with a greater need for contactless delivery.
It is a dawn of a new supply chain sector where manufacturers will reshape their portfolio or facility so that they can direct ship. The challenge will be consolidating onsite demand and supply. A new era for the logistics and supply chain sector awaits.