Q&A: Panattoni Europe CEO – “India is a lifetime opportunity for us”

Article by React News, written by

, Logistics Correspondent

Panattoni Europe, the European arm of Panattoni Development Company, has been one of the most active players in the logistics market in the past four years. The developer has delivered approximately 2m sq m (21.5m sq ft) of warehouse space across the continent and invested €5.5bn of capital.

Last week, Panattoni marked its debut in the Asian markets with the opening of its first operational headquarters in India. Panattoni India aims to launch two to three projects by the end of 2023 involving an initial investment of €193m.

Team led by Sandeep Chanda – managing director India, Panattoni

Team led by Sandeep Chanda – managing director India, Panattoni

React News sat down with Robert Dobrzycki, CEO and co-owner of Panattoni Europe and India, to discuss Panattoni’s plans for Asia. Before leading the EU business, industry veteran Dobrzycki led the company’s Central and Eastern European operation, which he set up in 2005.

What’s the reasoning behind your debut in India? 

We are expanding fast around Europe, and we’ve covered most geographies we would like to cover on the continent. While speaking to our clients, we felt that some of our clients were asking us if we could go to India and try to help them there. So that was the push, the initial push.

Then we started to analyse, and we realised – we were aware before there is a vast place, but we have not been aware that it’s so undeveloped logistic-wise. Looking at it from the long-term perspective, we feel it’s a lifetime opportunity that could potentially be an amazing play for us.

So we were pushed by the clients, then we figured that probably somebody like us is missing there in terms of production of space. We have space producers, and it’s needed.

So we felt that even if it’s a bit less developed at this stage and maybe less mature, we’ll have excellent opportunities in the long run if we spend the time and resources and do it right.

Can you reveal a bit more about Panattoni’s funding model for the Asian business?

The current funding model that we have is not changing in Asia, so we will be partnering with either global, international or local capital partners that we have to serve the clients that we have. So that’s the model.

Robert Dobrzycki CEO and Co-owner Panattoni Europe and India

“We won’t be setting up funds or club deals. We will work with the global capital partners we have right now to explore the local opportunities”
Robert Dobrzycki CEO and Co-owner Panattoni Europe and India

We won’t be setting up funds. We won’t be setting up club deals. We will work with the global capital partners we have right now to explore the local opportunities. And that’s the plan in India.

Would the strategy be attractive to Asian investors or do you expect to draw more investment from Europe?

I would say both. The initial discussion we have is with Asian investors, European investors, and US investors. So we are not limiting ourselves.

What we try to bring to the table in India is global capital and a client platform, and we do it with the local expertise that we have on the ground that we have put together already.

We will try to match our global capital appetite in India, link the clients we have, and explore how much we can do based on that.

Will you be looking to buy income-producing assets as well as developing from the ground up?

We have a strategy. We are a development company, so our core strategy is development. If it’s at the same time, there are income-producing assets, and there’s an element of value add, we would also look at them, but the primary strategy is development.

We’ll probably start with a speculated development that we want to set up ourselves first, and then based on that, we’ll start chasing business opportunities and delivering for the clients.

How does the pricing compare to other markets?

It’s a different model regarding the yields or the construction costs, but the trends are the same.

The construction costs differ from what we see in matured markets in Europe. Yields are at much higher levels, and that’s explainable. It’s an early stage for the market.

So, looking at the market in terms of population versus the stock, it’s incredible how much has to happen there to serve the population.

Is the tight pricing in Europe a contributing factor for you looking to diversify geographically?

I wouldn’t say we are price driven. We are opportunity driven. So we feel India is behind in terms of stock needed for the population. And that was, for us, that was extremely attractive.

Being a producer and a developer of space, we felt like there was so much for us to do. And even in Europe, there’s so much more for us to do. Though Europe and the US markets are much more mature, there are still plenty of things to build.

Is the logistics sector in India following the same trends that you have seen overseas?

The trends are the same, but what’s different is that most of the stock, which is currently available, is B plus, C plus, and in poor conditions. So that’s different, but the trends are the same.

What are Panattoni’s long-term plans in Asia?

I would say probably at this stage, and where the market is going right now with a slowdown due to concerns about inflation and a potential recession, we would probably stop thinking about the next targets.

We are focusing on what we have on our plate, which is a lot. We’ve expanded substantially in Europe and into one of the largest countries globally, India. We have enough to work on.

To what extent do you think the market in Europe has weakened over the last two months?

The capital side is very cautious right now, and it’s trying to figure out new pricing levels, yield-wise and construction cost-wise. I would say it’s a transition period where the capital is probably a bit hesitant to jump in and invest, but, selectively, it’s happening. Demand-wise, though it slowed down a bit, it’s still quite strong.

E-commerce is probably having a bit of a slow down because the growth was enormous during the Covid-19 time. But, nearshoring and the trends of getting the supply chains more resilient rather than efficient and getting products closer to the consumer are happening in a strong way.

Demand-wise it’s quite an active market but with the cost of capital and rents going up, higher construction costs and inflation, I’m quite sure demand would slow down.

Are you concerned at all and does this impact your strategy in any way?

Yes, absolutely. We are adjusting pricing and our models to reflect higher construction cost and different yield parameters.

We are assuming growth, but not so strong, so we are a bit more intense in our thinking. And so, I guess that’s the adjustment we do. We always watch the cost, but now we watch much more closely than before.

Fully automated warehouse for ViaPharma at Panattoni Park Prague Airport II Green Solutions:

BREEAM Outstanding at Panattoni Park Cheb, Czech Republic for Real Digital Green Solutions:

Fitting largest solar roof in the UK for M&S at EMDC​

Panattoni’s team developed the 900,000 sq ft solar array at the Marks & Spencer’s distribution centre in Derbyshire, making this the biggest in Europe at the time of installation. The array will generate over 5,000MWh of electricity per year and reduce the building’s carbon footprint by 48,000 tonnes over 20 years. The array provides almost 25% of the energy the distribution centre needs, making it nearly self-sufficient during daytime operations.

The Marks & Spencer distribution centre also has a solar wall that allows the building to passively regulate its own internal temperature, and the enabling work included 92,000 tonnes of concrete broken out and recycled on site.

These measures earned the building a carbon neutral certificate and BREEAM ‘Excellent’ accreditation.

Delivery of Energy Park in Kettering, UK

The extension to the existing Burton Wold Wind Farm involved the installation of nine GE 1.6MW turbines, the most efficient available when commissioned, to create a new 14.4MW wind farm at the site.

The wind farm saves an average of 12,831 tonnes of CO2 each year. In its remaining 15 years of life it is expected to save another 201,000 tonnes of CO2.

As part of this project, leading members of the team also designed a prototype for local energy generation that linked renewable energy technologies, local businesses and the local community in a virtuous circle of production and consumption.

Melissa Berry

Finance Assistant

Melissa works within the Finance and Accounts department at Panattoni in the UK. Her responsibilities range from facilitating payments for the development projects in the UK, assisting with accounting activities of all invoice reports and expenses from the UK teams. Prior to joining Panattoni, Melissa achieved a First Class BA Honours from Queen Mary University of London in History as well as a Masters in Law.

Faye Burrows

London Business Support

Faye works within Panattoni’s London Business Support team, where her role revolves around a robust administrative skill set. She ensures consistent organisation within the London office and team. Faye’s great attention to detail, contributes to the smooth operation of day-to-day activities, maintaining a well-ordered and efficient work environment. As well as this she consistently manages corporate schedules and coordinating essential tasks for all areas of the Panattoni team.

Jordan Madden-Nadeau

Financial Accountant

Jordan serves as a Financial Accountant for Panattoni. He is responsible for the accounting operations within the UK and for its projects, with a particular emphasis on ensuring tax compliance and facilitating with the audit process. A qualified member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), he brings over five years of experience in the property industry to his role. 

Grace Dignum

London Business Support

Grace works within Panattoni’s London Business Support team and plays a pivotal role in ensuring the company’s seamless operations.
Working closely with the team, she contributes to the efficient functioning of the London office while offering administrative support to various members of the business. Grace also works alongside the marketing team, where her specific function involves assisting in various UK events and marketing initiatives. 

Lydia Room

Marketing Associate

Lydia works within the marketing team as a Marketing Associate. Lydia is responsible for assisting the formulation of both corporate and scheme related material for Panattoni in the UK, alongside working with Francesca on the implementation of new marketing strategies. Lydia has a first class degree in Marketing & Communications along with a strong background expertise and practice in graphic design.

Harriet Wing

Marketing & Events Manager

Harriet is the Marketing and Events Manager at Panattoni, she is responsible for co-ordinating all events at Panattoni UK. Harriet’s impeccable organisation skills are integral to making all Panattoni events as seamless as possible. Harriet works very closely with the marketing team overseeing the consistency of Panattoni’s core values and brand positioning and that they are upheld throughout Panattoni’s messaging.

Francesca Linnitt

Head of UK Marketing

Francesca is Head of Marketing for Panattoni in the UK and is responsible for developing the corporate profile and executing marketing strategies for all the UK projects. Francesca’s role includes managing the external communications for Panattoni and bringing new and innovative marketing ideas to fruition. Francesca works closely with the Panattoni European marketing team to ensure a seamless brand across Europe and has brought many new ideas into the business.

Josh Butler

Senior Project Manager

Josh is an experienced project manager at Panattoni with over 15 years’ experience in the industry, he has delivered large scale speculative and build to suit projects across the whole of the UK. Josh has been heavily involved in large site remediation schemes over the course of his career and is from an engineering background. Josh has an extensive knowledge and expertise’s of onsite delivery.

Stephen Vickers

Commercial Delivery Director

Stephen manages the commercial delivery of our developments on a national basis and works within the project management team to deliver the high complex construction projects. He has spent more than 30 years in the industrial and logistics sectors, delivering a wide range of developments in the UK and Europe. He also has a vast knowledge of delivering sustainably accredited facilities, working with BREEAM, ESG, Net Zero and GRESB frameworks.

Owen Follett

Project Delivery Director

Owen has an impressive track record in the delivery of large scale build-to-suit projects with a particular emphasis on the delivery of industrial facilities for global automotive, aerospace and e-commerce occupiers. He has been responsible for the development of over 20m sq ft of new build industrial space in the UK and internationally. Projects include new automotive plants, aerospace manufacturing facilities, research and development centres and multi-modal logistics developments. Owen now works with the development team on a national basis in the delivery of highly complex construction and infrastructure projects.

Mark Powell

Project Delivery Director

Mark is a highly experienced delivery Director with over 20 years-experience in the industry, he has delivered both speculative and build-to-suit projects for a broad cross section of clients, ranging from aviation to manufacturing. Mark is capable of quickly assessing projects and implementing strategies to ensure all aspects of the scheme are delivered to exacting standards. A Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Building, Mark can deliver the most complex and challenging schemes.

Peter Carter-Wall

Construction Director

Peter is in charge of the on-site delivery and quality control of all construction projects at Panattoni. Peter has over 20 years experience in the project management sector and now specialises in the delivery of large-scale industrial buildings, site infrastructure & remediation. Peter has worked with the management team for over 10 years and is highly regarded in the market, with a reputation for his meticulous and diligent approach to construction management.

Simon Willgress

Project Delivery Director

Simon is an experienced member of the Panattoni project management team, and has extensive client side experience in the logistics sector, having spent 13 years working within leading FTSE 100 companies. Simon is responsible for all the technical due diligence and implementation of the development programme on his projects and brings highly valuable experience of automated warehouse developments. Simon is particularly interested in low carbon design development.

Ian Anderson

Head of Project Management

Ian is a highly regarded and experienced Head of Project Management, with responsibility for procuring Panattoni’s land acquisition, build-to-suit and speculative build programme. Ian combines his practical and commercial approach, with a keen eye for detail, ensuring that all projects are delivered to the highest standard. Ian has particular expertise in the negotiation and contract tender for large scale industrial buildings, with a background in structural engineering. In the last 18 years, Ian has gained considerable experience and market knowledge in the industry.

Tanya Thewlis

Capital Markets Business Manager

Tanya is responsible for providing operational support to the Capital Markets team in the UK. Tanya assists with the formulation of capital and financing solutions and helps to maintain investor relationships. Tanya has 20 years in operational support which offers a wide skill set that allows her to assist the capital markets team in smooth operations and client management.

Tom Watkins

UK Capital Markets

Tom is an integral part of the UK Capital Markets team and works closely with Nick Cripps, providing financial assistance and analysis. At Panattoni Tom’s role includes the preparation of financial appraisals for acquisitions, preparing investment documents for Panattoni’s capital partners and consolidating Investment Committee Reports for Panattoni’s internal approval process. Tom is a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS).

Oliver Winchcombe

Head of Portfolio Management and ESG

Oliver manages the property and asset management of the UK portfolio, working closely with the project management and finance teams. He is an experienced property manager, having spent many years with specialist property management consultancy firms, and working on behalf of large institutional funds. He is also a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS).

Indy Gill

Financial Controller

Indy is the Financial Controller for Panattoni in the UK. He is responsible for the accounting activities of Panattoni and its development projects in the UK, with a focus on consulting with external auditors and tax advisors. Indy is a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) with many years of experience in the property industry.

Scott Meakin

Development Surveyor
North West & Yorkshire

Scott is a development surveyor in the North West and Yorkshire development team. Scott has over 5 years’ experience in commercial property. He started his career in real estate consultancy where he qualified as a Chartered Surveyor. More recently, Scott has been involved in the delivery of large-scale industrial & logistics developments across the UK. Scott’s focus will be to support with the acquisition of new sites and help deliver new projects.

Ethan Greene

Development Manager
Southern England & London

Ethan is a Development Manager at Panattoni and works in the Southern England & London development team, helping to expand the business in the region. Ethan’s primary focus is to support with the acquisition of new sites and help to deliver new build development projects. Prior to Panattoni, Ethan studied Business and Economics at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, where he graduated with a First Class Honours degree.

Alex Mitchell

Development Manager
South East & London

Alex’s role at Panattoni is to deliver new build development projects and assist in the leasing of existing speculative development. Alex is focused on London and the South East region, and works closely with Anthony Watkins in supporting the national team to expand the business. Prior to Panattoni, Alex worked for Lambert Smith Hampton as a Chartered Surveyor advising a number of blue-chip occupiers on their nationwide acquisition and build-to-suit programme.

David McGougan

Development Director
South East

David has over 17 years’ experience in customer-centric, high-quality industrial and logistics development. David is responsible for the growth of both speculative and build-to-suit developments in the South East. David has a vast knowledge of the market and has a track record of delivering over £270 million of build-to-suit and speculative developments.

Gregg Titley

Head of Development
East and West Midlands

Gregg heads the development growth strategy in the East and West Midlands region. Gregg has more than 25 years’ experience in delivering projects for blue-chip customers on both speculative and build-to-suit basis. Gregg has specialised in large-scale delivery of bespoke and sustainable development facilities.

Andrew Preston

Head of Development
North Midlands & Yorkshire

Andrew has over 15 years experience in the industrial real estate market. Andrew’s role at Panattoni is to accelerate the land acquisition programme for speculative development across the wider Midlands and Yorkshire region. Andrew has a broad breadth of experience in the commercial property sector, with a detailed knowledge of the leasing and development process and is currently responsible for some of the UK’s largest speculative development projects.

Daniel Burn

Head of Development
North West & Yorkshire

Dan leads Panattoni’s Northern office, based in Central Manchester. Dan is responsible for accelerating the company’s land purchase, build-to-suit and spec build programme across both the North West and Yorkshire Region. With 20 years transactional experience, Dan is well recognised within the market, having been involved in many of the UK’s pre-eminent industrial & logistics schemes. Since working in the sector, Dan has gained a reputation for his approachable, pragmatic and customer focused approach to business.

James Watson

Head of Development
Southern England & London

James has 15 years experience in the property market and is responsible for expanding the business in the South East region. James’s role at Panattoni is to originate and deliver both large scale speculative and build-to-suit projects. In the last three years, James has delivered over £350 million of new build projects, including some of the largest logistics build-to-suit projects in the market.

Tony Watkins

Head of Development
South East & London

Tony is responsible for expanding the company’s land and speculative build platform in the South East. Tony specialises in the execution and delivery of major industrial schemes. Tony is highly accomplished in a variety of surveying sectors, with over 25 years experience. Prior to joining the Team, Tony has held senior positions in the clean-tech and waste management industry, having previously been CEO for a bio-fuels and waste-to-energy and renewable energy business.

Nick Cripps

Head of UK Capital Markets
Director Capital Markets Europe

Nick is responsible for heading up the Capital Markets team in the UK, with responsibility for the capitalisation of projects across the UK and Europe. He forms part of the Global Capital Markets network and works closely with Panattoni’s European operating platform helping originate and structure capital solutions and manage global and Pan-European investor relationships.

Oliver Choppin

Finance Director

Oliver is the Finance Director for Panattoni in the UK, overseeing the company’s financial strategies and is responsible for all financial aspects of the UK business including structuring, debt finance, deploying capital allocations, he also works closely with Panattoni’s European finance platform. Oliver has a wealth of experience in real estate finance having spent over 20 years in various treasury and accounting roles and been involved in over £7 billion of financing deals in both public and private debt markets. He is a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA).

Oliver Bertram

Head of National Development

Oliver is Head of National Development for Panattoni in the UK and is responsible for the national transactional platform in the UK. Oliver is recognised within the sector as a market specialist and is known for his personable approach to business and has earned a reputation for his commitment to customer service. Oliver has completed a number of significant industrial and logistics development projects across the UK.

Fergie Taylor

Head of Development Delivery

Fergie is responsible for managing the Panattoni UK delivery platform and has been instrumental in both establishing and guiding the Panattoni supply chain and project management team. With over 30 years of experience in the logistics sector, Fergie is recognised as one of the leading delivery directors in the market, with a keen interest in both low carbon design and sustainable development. Fergie has an unparalleled track record in the delivery of major industrial facilities and has procured an extensive range of new build logistics space for a variety of blue-chip customers.

Matthew Byrom

Managing Director UK

Matthew is Managing Director of Panattoni, representing the UK on both the European and Global Investment Committees that guide the strategies and day to day operations of the business. He also leads in the identification of new business opportunities and company investment. Since forming First Industrial in 2009, which merged with Panattoni in 2017, Matthew has continued to build on his reputation for the delivery of major development projects in the UK while continuing to grow the business.

Sara Lewis

UK Business Support

Sara works within Panattoni’s Business Support team. With over 10 years’ experience at Panattoni, Sara supports the Executive Team with the day-to-day operations of the business. Sara has developed her skill set to assist across the wider Panattoni business throughout the UK.

panattoni_wind_turbine

Delivery of Energy Park in Kettering, UK

The extension to the existing Burton Wold Wind Farm involved the installation of nine GE 1.6MW turbines, the most efficient available when commissioned, to create a new 14.4MW wind farm at the site.

The wind farm saves an average of 12,831 tonnes of CO2 each year. In its remaining 15 years of life it is expected to save another 201,000 tonnes of CO2.

As part of this project, leading members of the team also designed a prototype for local energy generation that linked renewable energy technologies, local businesses and the local community in a virtuous circle of production and consumption.

Fitting largest solar roof in the UK for M&S at EMDC​

Panattoni’s team developed the 900,000 sq ft solar array at the Marks & Spencer’s distribution centre in Derbyshire, making this the biggest in Europe at the time of installation. The array will generate over 5,000MWh of electricity per year and reduce the building’s carbon footprint by 48,000 tonnes over 20 years. The array provides almost 25% of the energy the distribution centre needs, making it nearly self-sufficient during daytime operations.

The Marks & Spencer distribution centre also has a solar wall that allows the building to passively regulate its own internal temperature, and the enabling work included 92,000 tonnes of concrete broken out and recycled on site.

These measures earned the building a carbon neutral certificate and BREEAM ‘Excellent’ accreditation.