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8 NOV 2018

CEOs have their say on the latest trends in commercial real estate

The commercial real estate market continues to experience unprecedented change, with an influx of disruptive business models, technological advances and evolving consumer demands.

The RICS Commercial Property Conference, which returns to London in December 2018, will bring together leading industry figures to debate the biggest issues impacting the sector.

Ahead of the conference, we asked three CEOs for their views and predictions. 

The challenge this year

Melanie Leech, Chief Executive, British Property Federation: “The biggest long-term challenge to the health of the industry is to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce. If we do not, we will not attract the skills we need and we will not be representative – or understand the needs of – the communities we seek to serve. The BPF put this issue at the top of its agenda in 2018 and we are in it for the long haul. We are working with a range of expert partners to drive this agenda, to ensure our industry shares best practice and has the tools to deliver fundamental and long-lasting change.”

Robert Noel, Chief Executive, Landsec: “We have seen a huge change in the demand from our customers: those who occupy our buildings. Empowered by new technologies, and needing to address emerging trends such as demands from their employees and from their own customers, our customers’ needs are evolving a breakneck speed. Real estate is no longer about location, location, location – it’s about creating the right customer journey, the right experience.”

Elaine Hewitt, Chief Executive Officer, NHS Property Services: “As a property owner, service provider and advisor with a portfolio of more than 34 million sq ft, our continuing challenge is to innovate to create property opportunities for both the real estate and health sectors in a way that creates value for the NHS. In addition to generating £293.5m in sales for reinvestment in the NHS estate, we’ve been looking at creative and collaborative solutions to replacing surplus property. These include joint venturing with developers on combined health and housing schemes and also introducing our Sessional Space offer, which applies the serviced office model to renting clinical spaces within NHS properties on a flexible basis. These are examples of how the challenges of a diverse and often complex portfolio can be a driver for innovation.”

Key trends for 2019

Robert Noel: “Technology will drive estate trends, from production and delivery to maintenance and customer service. Politics will also be a huge influence as our industry needs to be a key player in working out how to accommodate a growing and ageing population from a starting point of creaking infrastructure and a housing shortage. In order to be sustainable, businesses will need to ensure they are supported by their customers; the communities they operate in; their employees; and their partners.” 
 
Elaine Hewitt: “The continuing need to alleviate the UK’s chronic housing shortage will continue to dominate the agendas of landowners, developers and policy makers alike. Releasing surplus public property remains crucial to generating supply and we will be playing an important role, by selling developable land the NHS no longer needs to feed the UK housing pipeline. Since formation in 2013, our disposal programme has facilitated the development of close to 4,773 new homes - releasing funds for reinvestment in the NHS portfolio.

“We also believe that rapid advances in both PropTech and MedTech will create opportunities to look at new and more efficient ways to use property, improving patient care and access to healthcare and driving efficiencies in the healthcare estate.”  

Melanie Leech: “Effective partnership between the public and private sectors will continue to be a key trend for our industry in 2019. As Brexit dominates time and effort in Parliament, the partnership with regional and local governments will be more important than ever to unlocking investment and delivery through the built environment. And, for our new Metro Mayors to achieve their ambitions – of greater productivity, economic growth and social wellbeing – our industry’s investment and development of towns and city centres across the UK will be fundamental.

“Who knows, 2019 may also be the year we stop asking ourselves what proptech really means and start celebrating the digital transformation of our great industry?” 

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