With most people back in the UK heavily focussed on Brexit, the discussion on the ground at MIPIM is more positive with a mixture of cautious optimism. Concerns over Brexit and investment markets being late cycle seem to be muted, with most expecting a positive next 2-3 years, subject to the outcome of ongoing trade negotiations and the timing and impact of the UK’s exit from the EU.
From an occupier’s perspective, the interesting development here at MIPIM is the sense of increasing collaboration between the investor and occupier sectors, as the talk moves towards “end user experience”. Despite the continued debate around WeWork and the sustainability of the business model, the positive effect of Coworking disruption for everyone, is that investors and developers are increasingly recognising occupiers as customers, and are more in tune with the occupier’s increasing demand for flexibility and critical need to create the right work environment to win in the war for talent.
As Proptech innovation rapidly accelerates the occupier’s understanding of how they use space, the question is whether developers and investors are keeping pace, to provide the right product for their end users to maximise occupancy and return to investors. With lease accounting changes kicking in this year, the other movement we are seeing is the occupier taking a more sophisticated view on ownership versus lease, with some taking advantage of the opportunity to collect developer’s profit through self-development, or purchase to lease back structures.
In a world increasingly dominated by technology and disruption, the question we are here to answer this week, as we embark on another MIPIM and meet with the excellent mix of investors and developers is; can developers and investors keep pace with occupiers and collaborate with the all-important end user to provide the right product, in a way that maximises occupancy and return to investors?