What does 2018 hold in store for Property Directors?

The great and the good of the Property Director world met this month for the bi-annual Property Directors Forum, sharing issues and ideas for their businesses, concluding that 2017 has not been as bad as many had predicted, but that businesses will need to continue to ‘do more with less’ in 2018.

It was agreed that, to minimise uncertainty, occupiers should work together with peers to avoid the more hazardous pitfalls of Brexit as well as other risks and challenges. Also, following the theme of this Property Directors Forum – The Innovation Savvy Business – occupiers should take advantage of sector-specific opportunities, including those in retail, manufacturing and IT, looking to innovation to improve the performance of their property portfolios.

Jason Sibthorpe, Principal and UK Managing Director of Avison Young, sponsors of the Property Directors Forum, comments: “Having an agile and flexible strategic approach to innovation will be vital in 2018 for selecting the right innovations to achieve business goals. Our panel, including representatives from Tesco, RBS, Unite Students and Innovation Gateway shared their experience with attendees suggesting tactics to adopt and ways to encourage buy-in from managers and staff to achieve innovation goals. This collaboration is a vital part of the Property Directors Forum.”

For example, RBS shared its experience with using ‘JUMP’ an online platform and mobile app that helps to influence behavior changes among staff to become more environmentally aware. “A favourite of the day was HSG’s Hygiene Products & Washroom Services which helps to prevent costly urinal blockage, assist with the prevention of foul odours and save substantial amounts of money and water by controlling the number of flushes – very important for a company like Tesco which has thousands of wash facilities across the country in its stores and offices,” Jason adds.

One of the most important takeaways of the day was looking forward to 2018, continuing to ‘do more with less’. There is a consensus among Property Directors of the constant challenge for occupiers in the current economic climate. Occupiers will be looking for ‘quick hits and easy wins’, implementing small changes that can deliver large or multiple returns, for example switching providers, space-use reduction and influencing behavioural change among staff to reduce energy use.

Jason continues: “Looking at the bigger ticket, businesses are continuing to rationalise their property portfolios. Driven by the increases in rents and business rates, rising costs and short-term occupancies, occupiers are making more efficient use of their assets and being more cautious about investments.”

It was agreed among the attendees of the Property Directors Forum that the property market for 2018 will be challenging, but there are opportunities in many sectors.