The market has responded well to the new brand and position of the company, Scott Field, CEO, envisions positioning the company as having a personal touch, “we prefer to invite people to an event and chat face to face, so they know that our team is approachable and ready to assist wherever possible. We are most excited about an upcoming event that we are hosting for brokers where we will showcase a new concept that will transform the way they view our properties.”
The newly branded entity owns and manages a diversified portfolio in the region of R2bn. Predominantly office space, “it’s spread at about 60% commercial, 30% industrial and 10% retail space. We intend to grow our industrial portion by about four times at the same time doubling commercial space,” remarks Field. 70% of those properties are owned by Fieldspace placing the company amongst the smaller sized funds in the listed sector.
Fieldspace shies away from massive, custom-built industrial warehouses and rather focuses on industrial office parks with multiple units of between 600 – 1000 square metres stacked next to each other to allow for single or multi-tenanted leases. This type of investment tends to be more flexible and diversified in nature.
“As a landlord, you want to partner with small and medium sized businesses who are growing and moving forward - the challenge is to attract them in that pivotal growth phase,” says Field.
The small retail representation in the portfolio is by no means an oversight, with property funds recently diving into retail in droves. “With retail, when done well, it’s very profitable , if you’re going into retail you really need to specialise and that’s not really our niche”, quips Field. The company aims to grow the portfolio whereby commercial and industrial are approximately equal, and potentially pick up the occasional retail property
Field projects a fair amount of growth for the company, but will not consider listing on the JSE. He feels that it prioritises generating income and dividends driven by impact on share price rather than considering the long-term impact of investment decisions. “The decisions that I make today will be borne by my children’s children and for that reason I am thinking long term,” explains Field.
The company holds an advantage as a cash buyer, comfortably sitting at a 40% level of gearing at the moment. Certain nodes show good value for money and others are very expensive. A growing concern for Field and his team is a somewhat apparent disregard for basic municipal bylaws and heavily incorrect parking ratios in some nodes, discovered during due diligence on several potential acquisitions.
Fieldspace looks to grow its portfolio to R5bn over the next five years through natural growth and acquisitions based on good decision-making and a long-term view.
In addition to the core business, Field concluded that “Fieldspace realises the need to be a responsible citizen and is committed to investing in green initiatives and assisting the local communities in areas where our properties are based. In line with our philosophy for the rest of our business, we are looking at future generations and the kind of planet they will inherit.”