Gina Helmold joined Prologis almost 10 years ago as a trainee, and today she plays a crucial role in growing the business in Northern Europe. As head of developments for the Benelux region, she has a keen perspective on existing and future logistics facility developments, investments and leases. Thanks to many years of expertise, she is familiar with the trends in the industry and knows what challenges Prologis can expect in the future.
Rapid Transformation of the Logistics Real Estate Sector
“The market and the industry have changed considerably in recent years,” says Helmold. “Ten years ago, many facilities stood vacant. As a result, many developers focused on leasing business during this period. But now, land has become scarce while demand remains high. This presents our industry with enormous challenges. And that means that now more than ever, we need to be creative and think outside the box.”
The e-commerce industry plays a critical role in the transformation of the logistics real estate sector. In addition, other growth industries—such as technology, fashion, healthcare and beauty—are increasingly looking for warehouse and logistics space.
Speculative Developments to Address Land Scarcity
True to its slogan “Ahead of what's next,” Prologis focused on finding prime locations 10 years ago in regions where logistics were active. “We always assume that we will be the long-term owner of our logistics parks,” explains Helmold. “That's why we invest and develop very selectively.”
In addition to build-to-suit facilities, Prologis also develops properties speculatively. Speculative logistics facilities are advantageous because they are flexible in design and available on short notice. Because of the scarcity of land in prime locations, speculative development has paid off in recent years. A good example in the Netherlands is Prologis Park Venlo.
“We were able to directly lease our speculatively developed logistics facility in Venlo,” says Helmold. “The developments are so successful that we are currently working on other speculative projects in Venlo, Eindhoven, Fokker Park and Waalwijk.”
High Sustainability and Health Standards
Prologis plans new developments with foresight and flexibility. Facilities are designed to meet the demands of tomorrow and the needs of different customers. This is why BREEAM accreditation has long been one of the minimum sustainability requirements for new developments at Prologis.
As the demand from e-commerce companies grows, the logistics real estate sector faces further challenges: The online industry employs more people who need office space and shared areas. In turn, modern offices are subject to stringent health standards. This is why Prologis designs efficient logistics facilities with ample office space and with the well-being of future employees in mind.
“We pay attention to numerous details when it comes to employees’ health and well-being,” says Helmold. “Our logistics facility in Tilburg, Netherlands, is a showcase project. We based the design of this building on the WELL Building Standard with large bright rooms and numerous plants to help create a pleasant atmosphere. And the fitness room is also extremely convenient for the building’s users.”
While some customers simply want to rent a facility for five years and operate logistics from it, others see the future in such concepts as WELL Building. “We want to offer both,” Helmold says. “Conducting business with foresight also means investing more in order to satisfy potential future users, even those who are looking for only a simple solution.”
Thinking about Tomorrow, Today
In her day-to-day business, Helmold benefits from collaboration with the internal research team. These coworkers provide insights into trends and developments in Europe, the United States and Asia. “At Prologis, our own expertise and market analysis go hand in hand,” Helmold explains. “We work closely with the research team. Its analyses provide information on what the trends mean for the individual countries and regions and where they could lead. This is very helpful and allows us to select and develop properties and logistics facilities with foresight.”
In addition, the research team keeps an eye on technical developments and innovations. The rapid pace of change in the industry shows it is important to think about tomorrow’s innovations today. “A logistics facility designed for the long term must be built with future technologies in mind. When designing new buildings, we consider potential charging stations for electric vehicles and future landing sites for drones,” Helmold explains. “They may not be found everywhere yet, but it is hard to imagine logistics processes of the near future without them.”
For Prologis, the successful development of logistics facilities means adapting perfectly to the demands of the location, operating in a sustainable manner, and creating added value for customers and municipalities alike. But what does successful collaboration with cities and municipalities look like? What measures does Prologis take to increase the efficiency of logistics facilities in operation? Helmold will soon report on these exact challenges.