Today we planned to meet the London Cabot team that we will work with for the U.K. portion of the trip. The team consists of two St. Mark’s alumnae, both of which are leading Cabot’s expansion into the European market. After an introduction and quick overview of Cabot’s U.K. properties, we set out to visit some of the locations in order to get a firsthand look at the warehouses. Finally, we ended the day in Birmingham where we had a meeting with one of Cabot’s brokers: Savills. Savills taught us more about the U.K. market and the projected changes in the coming years.
Jed and Howie
Jed Raymond (SM ‘96) is an asset manager at Cabot Properties and is the one employee working for Cabot in England. He works on finding potential investments for Cabot that bring returns of 16-20% to their investors. Recently in 2017, Cabot sold most of their properties in the UK as a part of their Value Fund IV portfolio.
Howard Hodgson (SM ‘74) is an executive vice president at Cabot Properties and serves on their investment committee. He was previously the director of asset management at Cabot and has developed a keen eye for damages and anything that needs improvement in warehouses during his 27 year tenure at Cabot. Mr. Hodgson does a lot of traveling to different warehouses that Cabot is interested in purchasing and ones that they already own. He checks for any damages that the tenants have left and makes sure that, because they are liable for it, fix it.
We visited Cabot’s BTS warehouse in Milton-Keynes which was just finished as of last week. BTS is an acronym for built to suit and the tenant that it was built for is the German company Drascher. When a company requests a warehouse it is usually completed in 18 months with specific square footage, number of loading docks, and office space requirements. BTS tenants typically lease the
building for longer: around 8-15 years. The current trend for non-BTS tenants is shorter contracts lasting around 3-7 years. Drascher’s warehouse is 173,000 square feet with 20 loading docks. It was interesting to finally see a warehouse with all these different components because we spent all last summer compiling data regarding the warehouses in Poland: recording the number of docks, square footage, etc.
Savills is a Birmingham real estate firm that works in residential, commercial, and industrial properties. They have over 600 offices across the world, which allows them to have specialists with local knowledge in any given market. As a company, they had previously given information about their properties to a company called CoStar. However, they found that the information CoStar gives to companies that subscribe to them is incorrect most of the time. So, they have begun to keep their own information and go directly to other companies to learn about the square footage, rent price, etc. of their properties. We questioned them about Brexit and how this may impact the real estate market and shy people away from purchasing properties in the country. At this time they believe it will not create a large impact on the industry, however, only time can tell.
Being our first day, it took a little bit of time to get into the rhythm and pace of an actual business trip. Fortunately, it did not take too long to acclimate and we were firing on all cylinders by the end of the day. It was very interesting to hear Mr. Hodgson’s and Mr. Raymond’s stories about how they ended up working in the real estate industry. Both of their “paths” were quite indirect so it reminded us that what we decide now, particularly as we begin looking at colleges, may not be what we end up doing for the rest of our lives. Furthermore, we finally saw a warehouse in person (after working on researching them for so long), and saw what it takes to build and maintain such a large building. The many different elements that go into creating a building of such size was very interesting to see and learn more about. Since the three of us are quite interested in STEM fields, the actual engineering behind the building was fascinating. Finally, we got a fantastic overview of the U.K.’s market as a whole when visiting Savills. It also was our first experience of an actual business meeting. As we are here to learn about business, it is an invaluable experience to take part in a real meeting and to see how different corporations interact in that setting.