SAREIT

Dipula and REO’s innovative approach to tenant installation for EOH grows a sustainable furniture initiative

Dipula Income Fund’s (JSE: DIB) new lease with EOH for the Montrose Place at Waterfall Park in Midrand’s Vorna Valley has led to an innovative and high-impact corporate social responsibility project. The entire 4,000qm building was fitted out by REO, using small contractors who not only completed the entire build project but also tailor-made the furniture in the basement of the building.

Izak Petersen, CEO of Dipula, which participates in numerous corporate social responsibility initiatives and works with various SMME contractors, comments, “It is critical that we as landlords adjust our thinking. Our tenants are the foundation of our business and collaboration rather than dictation is the future of these relationships. But this hasn’t always been easy to implement; that was until we found a potential new tenant with a different approach to space, community and collaboration.

“Working with EOH and REO has been amazing. Their thinking aligned with ours, and that was the beginning of what was to be a hugely successful project that was delivered on time, within budget and entirely homegrown. Not only do we have a happy tenant, but we helped to develop skills, create jobs — directly and indirectly — and unleash new opportunities. As a socially responsible South African business it is particularly rewarding to pave a new avenue to deploy capital in a way that contributes to positive impacts in our communities.”

Petersen adds that while Dipula may have a large portfolio of properties, it is not the end-user of these buildings; its tenants are. “Working together for initiatives like this enables both landlords and tenants to have a greater positive impact, and we take our hats off to EOH and REO for its innovative solutions to the complex challenge of creating an inspiring, enjoyable and productive place to work.”

Since 2019, EOH and REO have been on a journey to rationalise the EOH property portfolio and, at the same time, leverage the opportunity to create office spaces that encourage productivity, collaboration and flexibility. CSI has always been a significant driver of the property consolidation project and, and in keeping with this, all the office furniture in the numerous buildings exited has been donated to staff, schools and NGOs across the country.

The final leg of the consolidation strategy was to create a home for the newly formed Easy HQ, a division of EOH, in a fit-for-purpose building that addressed both the bespoke requirements of call centres and training centres while at the same time incorporating shared “hub space”.

Diana Hingeston, Executive at REO Consulting, comments, “Montrose Place, within walking distance of the EOH IOCO Hub, was perfectly located. An occupied building with an outdated fit-out and three months to deliver seemed an impossible task. That’s where landlord-tenant collaboration became a critical success factor. Simultaneous white boxing and fit-out, sharing of contractors and a common understanding of what it means to be proudly South African.

“In keeping with our commitment to community, the entire fit-out project was expertly executed by SMMEs, and the furniture was all built in the basement by REO using traditional hand tools and a welding machine. We are blown away by how collaborative the Dipula team are, and it was encouraging to experience their commitment to good corporate citizenship first-hand. We look forward to exploring similar opportunities together in future.”

Leveraging years of experience in workplace change management and incorporating various design learnings, REO’s goal is to craft spaces so enticing that people would be eager to leave their homes for them.

With a design philosophy of “a little bit like home, a little bit like work and a little bit like a coffee shop”, being different was imperative and remaining competitive essential. With “cool office space, job creation and easy entry to market” as the goal, the REO team came up with the concept of an “Anywhere Factory” — furniture made by anyone, anywhere for everyone everywhere. REO and the Anywhere Factory have been designing offices and making furniture for EOH since 2019.

“Montrose Place is by far the most ambitious of all projects and would not have been possible without the support of Dipula and their easy acceptance of our somewhat unusual request to turn their basement into a makeshift welding and carpentry factory,” says Hingeston.

Bringing the EOH vision to life, the “Anywhere Factory” team powered by REO manufactured the furniture using hand tools. They produced desks, cladding, kitchen units, coffee tables, bar stools, desk dividers, call-centre tables, and benches — everything but the upholstered furnishings and carpets.

The result is a clean and contemporary industrial office design featuring steel and pine wood with various stains, which come together in multifunctional open and shared spaces that embody an agile, fluid approach to office space. Anyone can sit anywhere — even the CEO.

This collaboration between Dipula, REO, and EOH has proven a resounding success and planted a seed for more small businesses to fit out commercial premises with customised solutions crafted on-site. These solutions help businesses better express the brands and values inside their business places in unique ways — impossible to achieve by using cheap, modular, imported furniture.

Petersen says, “We are encouraged by the increased uptake of office space and believe that office fundamentals have finally turned the corner. Creative initiatives such as this one are beneficial to society, tenants and landlords. This project speaks to the dignity of the employees of the SMMEs that were involved who would have otherwise been unemployed and creates a pleasant working environment for people as companies call staff back to the office.”

Dipula is a prominent, diversified, South Africa-invested REIT that owns a R9.8 billion portfolio of 170 retail, office, industrial and residential rental assets countrywide. It has a strong retail property focus, with convenience, rural and township shopping centres comprising 64% of its portfolio value.

“Through this initiative with EOH and REO, we are also particularly pleased to play a small part in encouraging makers and creators in South Africa. To grow beyond where we are as a country, economy and society, we need to be able to produce. We have deep respect for artisans and their trades, and we are humbled to showcase their valuable skills at our buildings,” says Petersen.

Redefine remains laser-focused on strategic priorities to adapt to an ever-evolving landscape

Johannesburg, 27 February 2024 – Real estate investment trust (REIT) Redefine Properties (JSE:RDF) stated today in its pre-close update for the half-year ending 29 February 2024 that the business has started the year on a positive note. Despite a challenging macroeconomic backdrop, operating metrics across the board are showing improvement.

CFO Ntobeko Nyawo said positive operational metrics across the company’s South Africa portfolio have supported organic growth and delivered a consistent operating profit margin of 78% (FY23: 78%).

“Market recovery and demand for A- and P-grade office space in South Africa continues in select nodes as a result, office rentals are gradually recovering on the back of improved activity in key nodes like Sandton,” COO Leon Kok explained. “The effect of increased asking rentals is being monitored to ensure that Redefine’s rental rates remain competitive in the sector.”

Demand for new industrial developments in prime locations remains high, particularly for racked warehousing. As such, Redefine is focusing on renting out rack and shelving systems to increase tenant retention and revenue.

The company’s investment at Brackengate 2 Business Park, one of the Western Cape’s prime business precincts, is growing with a warehousing and complementary office space development recently completed for the Herholdt’s Group, a distributor of solar energy and electrical equipment.

The Massmart DC wheeling project at Brackengate is being targeted for commissioning in October this year. This is a component of Redefine’s strategic investment focus on resource-efficient green initiatives and creative solutions to reduce reliance on municipality supplied services and secure a stable energy supply.

Kok added that the group is very excited about its solar PV pipeline that includes installations of 27,2MWp currently in progress and feasibility studies being undertaken on future projects that could add additional capacity of 10,7 MWp of renewable energy supply.

“We continue to incorporate ESG into every aspect of the business by embracing and encouraging stakeholder collaboration in order to broaden the scope of our environmental initiatives,” Kok said.

To this end, Redefine is currently investigating ways to increase the efficiency of diesel usage and standby power system recoveries across all its retail assets.

While operational momentum is continuing across the retail portfolio, high interest rates and disposable income pressures have hindered sales growth. As such, tenant retention and vacancy reduction are key priorities for management. Redefine is in collaboration with retailers to increase exposure to essential services and value-focused brands – these occupy 37% of retail gross lettable area and are forecast to improve to 40% in the short term.

“While Redefine’s improved operating metrics have been offset by higher interest rates, there is optimism that interest rates have reached the zenith of the current tightening cycle,” Nyawo commented. “It is anticipated that rates will begin to ease during the second half of 2024. This would be positive for the investment return profile of our business.”

Aside from interest rates, other macroeconomic challenges have also softened, such as South Africa’s energy supply crisis and Poland’s energy cost crisis. Meanwhile, Poland’s political transition is predicted to benefit the country’s economy overall and commercial real estate, in particular.

Redefine, through its Polish logistics platform European Logistics Investment (ELI) with an income generating asset platform valued at EUR966 million, is maximising investor returns through strategic portfolio management and development. This includes recycling non-core assets to fund new developments at attractive yields.

The report notes that the warehouse market in Poland is seeing green shoots of recovery after a marked slowdown in the first half of 2023, based on the expectancy of interest rate cuts in the second half of 2024.

CEO Andrew König said, “Regarding the Polish market’s potential, we are still optimistic. Exposure to Polish retail and logistics provides stability to our portfolio. The retail market in Poland is at the final stage of recovery from the pandemic, including sectors that suffered most (entertainment and gastronomy), which are now finally also on a growing path.”

He said, however, that there are some clouds on the horizon that could unsettle this optimism. “National and global elections, continued parastatal frailty in South Africa, and geopolitical instability are issues that we will keep our eye on. But we won’t allow these variables, which are largely out of our control, to distract us from what matters most. We simply need to remain laser-focused on the execution of our strategic priorities, to adapt to an ever-changing landscape.”

Liquidity risk management is still crucial and Nyawo said that “Redefine’s low risk debt maturity profile, with less than 14% of our debt maturing per year up to FY27, supports its long-term value creation prospects”.

He added: “Refinancing of FY24 debt maturities is progressing well, with affirmation of support from funders and healthy liquidity levels in the debt capital markets. In Poland, we are proactively focusing on Henderson JV, which EPP owns 30%, as it has a higher loan-to-value level of c.60%.”

Looking ahead, König said Redefine will remain focused on conservative balance sheet management to enable sustainable growth as market dynamics continue to evolve. “We aim to build a quality, diversified portfolio that delivers sustainable risk-adjusted returns, while investing in and transforming our human capital to enable creativity and foster innovation. In opting for the upside, the one thing we shouldn’t be surprised about is that there will be surprises in 2024 and that within each surprise lies an opportunity.”

The company said it is pleased to maintain its earnings guidance DIPS range of between 48c and 52c in a challenging operating context.

Pre-close presentation available

Vukile raises R1 billion in equity as it eyes growth opportunities

Vukile Property Fund (JSE: VKE) will issue R1 billion of new ordinary shares, following a successful accelerated book build. The equity raised will boost Vukile’s financial agility to capitalise on a pipeline of growth opportunities, aligned with its well-established long-term strategy.

Vukile is a specialist retail real estate investment trust (REIT) developed on the foundation of a well-defined, specialised growth strategy, with a focus on owning dominant retail assets across South Africa and Spain. Vukile adopts a pro-active approach to asset management and a strong focus on customer centricity as the driver of stakeholder value creation.

Vukile’s assets are valued at around R40 billion, with 40% in South Africa and 60% in Spain. The Spanish assets are held in the 99.5% Vukile-owned Madrid-listed subsidiary, Castellana Properties Socimi.

Both South African and Spanish portfolios continue to deliver excellent results and solid performance unlocking value from the well-crafted portfolio of properties, most of which are dominant in their respective catchment areas.
The company’s strong performance indicators, clear strategy and market confidence in Vukile’s prospects and performance strategic investment opportunities.

Laurence Rapp, CEO of Vukile Property Fund, says, “As part of Vukile’s ongoing growth strategy, we have identified and are evaluating an attractive pipeline of financially accretive, strategically aligned metrics with Vukile’s proactive asset management announcement that it would exceed the upper end of its guidance for FY2024 of growth in FFO per track record of delivery underpin.
Earlier this month, Vukile’s share of 4% to 6% as well as growth in dividend per share of 8% to 10% was met with enthusiasm by investors. Vukile intends to deploy the proceeds of the equity raise into direct property acquisition opportunities in both South Africa and Spain. Pricing remains fragmented in the current market environment, which rewards certainty and speed of execution. The capital raised will place Vukile in a financially agile position underpinned by a strong balance sheet and enhanced funding optionality.”

Vukile remains firmly focused on maintaining a conservative balance sheet as its foundation for efficient capital management. In the short term, the proceeds of the equity raise will be used to temporarily reduce borrowings in anticipation of the closing of potential acquisitions. The capital raise will also reduce Vukile’s loan-to-value ratio.

Investec Bank Limited acted as the sole bookrunner for the equity raise.

Growthpoint Properties issues R1 billion 10-year bond

Growthpoint Properties (JSE: GRT) has issued a R1bn senior unsecured bond with a 10-year maturity. The offering came after strong investor interest in long-term Growthpoint debt, which the sole arranger, Standard Bank, successfully executed as a private placement of R1 billion.

The 10-year note was placed at a margin of 185bps above three-month JIBAR, the most favourable pricing achieved in several years. The issue attracted multiple investors, reflecting the market’s continued trust and confidence in Growthpoint.

We are delighted with the strong support received from our investor base and the success of the long-dated debt issuance, especially given the current global turmoil and local market challenges,” says Estienne de Klerk, SA CEO of Growthpoint Properties.

“In the last 12 months, Growthpoint has managed to raise close to R2.5 billion of 10-year funding in the listed bond market at compressing spreads. This demonstrates the strength of Growthpoint’s credit quality and the long tenure of the bonds is a vote of confidence from investors in the future of the business,” says Carl Wiesner, Head, Syndicate (South Africa) at Standard Bank Group, Debt Capital Markets.

Growthpoint has both Fitch and Moody’s credit ratings. Its Fitch global scale rating is BB+ and its national scale rating is AAA.za and its Moody’s global scale rating is Ba2 and its national scale rating is Aa1.za

Its latest issuance reaffirms Growthpoint’s robust access to debt capital markets. Growthpoint, being an active issuer in the debt capital markets, also recently won the Bonds, Loans & ESG Capital Markets Africa Award 2024 for Real Estate Finance Deal of the Year for its R910m bond issue in October 2023, for which Standard Bank was also the book-runner.

The company also successfully privately placed a R1bn Green Bond for 10 (R650m) and seven years (R350m). A portion of the proceeds of the Green Bond will be used to finance renewable energy projects for its property portfolio.

Growthpoint recently signed a landmark Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Etana Energy for 195GWh of renewable energy a year, representing 32% of its total current annual electricity consumption (612GWhs in FY23) in addition to its long-standing investment in solar plants at its properties, furthering its climate commitment of being carbon neutral by 2050.

“We value our investors’ trust in Growthpoint’s proposition, their confidence in its sound creditworthiness and belief in our long-term direction,” says de Klerk.

Vukile trading update

Vukile’s South African and Spanish retail property portfolios delivered impressive increases in performance in November and December 2023, signalling a successful Black Friday and holiday trading period.

Vukile is a consumer-focused specialist retail real estate investment trust (REIT) that holds a defensive portfolio of retail property assets valued at around R40 billion, 40% of which is in South Africa and 60% in Spain. The Spanish assets are held in the Madrid-listed subsidiary Castellana Properties Socimi (“Castellana”), in which Vukile has a 99.5% holding.

South Africa

All key operating metrics for November and December 2023 are positive and in line with expectations, with a particularly strong festive trading performance.

During December 2023, shopper footfall in the portfolio increased by 2.0%, demonstrating strong and steady support. A quarter of shoppers who visited Vukile’s malls on Black Friday also returned during December. Township and rural malls enjoyed higher rates of repeat visitors, emphasising the central role they play in their communities.

The portfolio’s sales grew by 2.6% for the 2023 calendar year, with festive trading figures being notably higher than those in 2022.

The portfolio delivered strong December 2023 figures, with trading densities growing by 7.6% compared to December 2022. Township shopping centres led this performance with 13.2% growth, followed by rural shopping centres (+7.2%) and the urban shopping centres (+4.5%).

During the combined November and December period, the portfolio’s trading density increased by 4.3% compared to the same months in 2022. The township portfolio enjoyed an increase of 9.7%, the rural assets rose by 3.3% and the urban properties showed growth of 1.3%.

These numbers are more impressive when considered against the backdrop of figures reported by Statistics South Africa indicating a decline in retail sales for November.

The Vukile portfolio experienced a seasonal uptick in the fashion trade. Women’s wear sales surged 14.5% in December, marking an overall 10.4% increase for the final two months of the year. Meanwhile, men’s wear saw a healthy 8.1% growth in sales during November and December 2023. Sales in the grocery/supermarket category rose by 2.4%, while the fast foods segment saw a 5.4% rise, indicating steady demand for essentials.

Spain

Spain demonstrated excellent performance, leading Europe with a 5.3% growth in footfall in the last quarter of 2023, per the Shopper Track report. The report indicates a strong positive trend in the Spanish retail market, especially the shopping centre segment. For the 2023 festive season, Spain ranked top with a 5.7% increase in visits. Castellana outperformed this benchmark, growing its portfolio footfall by 6.1%.

Castellana closed the 2023 calendar year with a new record footfall of more than 44.8 million visits for the twelve months, up 6.4% from 2022.

El Faro and Bahía Sur shopping centres attracted over 8 million visits in the 2023 calendar year – a new record for both. Similarly, Puerta Europa achieved its highest annual visitor numbers since opening, with almost 5 million visits or a 6.2% increase from 2022. Los Arcos and Habaneras also exceeded 2022 levels by an impressive 9.7% and 11.1%, respectively. Vallsur Shopping Centre broke its footfall record by 4.1% in 2023, with the opening of La Chismería last December – its new leisure and dining zone – exceeding retailers’ expectations.

In terms of sales, 2023 numbers improved by 7.9% over 2022, even though 2022 was one of the strongest years for Castellana’s tenants to date. The shopping centre portfolio demonstrated sales growth of 9.6% in 2023 versus 2022, outperforming retail parks at 3.7%.

Black Friday and festive season trading was extremely positive, with increases in sales of 7.0% in November and 6.1% in December – representing real growth in the portfolio.

All retail categories exceeded 2022 performance. The three categories achieving the highest increases in sales were media and technology (19.5%), health and beauty (14.2%) and food and beverage (12.3%). The leisure category, which demonstrated sales growth of 11.4% in 2023 vs 2022, finally surpassed 2019 levels by 3.7% after several tough trading years.

Outlook

Based on a continuously strong trading performance and having completed nine months of its current financial year, Vukile is pleased to report that it expects to outperform the upper end of its upgraded guidance for both FFO per share (4-6% growth) and dividend per share (8-10% growth) for the year ending 31 March 2024.

The forecast above assumes no material adverse change in trading conditions, contractual escalations and market-related renewals. The forecast also assumes no material further change in interest rates and exchange rates. The forecast has not been reviewed or audited by Vukile’s external auditors.

Vukile continues to focus on meeting the needs of its customers and ensuring its malls remain sustainably and efficiently operated, to continue delivering sustained value for all its stakeholders.