New growth


As most of us find ourselves coming out of lockdown and determining what the ‘new normal’ will look like, I want to share some evidence of new growth in our Shariah compliant real estate portfolio.

Working under the restrictions imposed by the state of Ohio, work has continued to fit out a 43,000 square foot floor at our The Reserve office building outside Chicago.

Providing an update to our Kuwaiti investment partner, we were able to report that the tenant, Logical Position, a digital marketing specialist, reported to us that it has never been busier and is very much looking forward to moving in and continuing to expand its headcount.

Meanwhile, even in one of the hardest hit sectors of retail there are glimmers of hope. In the past month or so, we agreed a new 10-year lease to electrical retailer Currys PC World on a UK retail park.

Of course, some upfront rent-free period helped during this disrupted period, but it is looking beyond with the length of commitment. And elsewhere, new retail concepts are being introduced to take advantage of reduced rents — more reinvention.

Crossing into continental Europe, all credit to our asset management team for finalising the leasing and occupation of Volker Wessels Telecom in one of our office properties in Holland as its new headquarters.

It takes a lot to hold the Dutch back, and they remained determined to push on during the pandemic lockdown and be up and running as soon as possible.

We also witnessed very positive progress with our Islamically structured student accommodation holdings in the UK. We manage close to 2,800 beds with our Kuwaiti and Malaysian investment partners and can share that over the last two months, more than 260 new pre-lets have been achieved for the start of the new academic year after the summer.

So, despite what the media would have you believe, that’s 260-plus new students, mainly from overseas, determining that life and their education need to go on.

It would be unbalanced for me to report only these positives, as many of our retail and hotel tenants are continuing to suffer, but nonetheless these are strong green shoots.

Onward and upward.

This article was first published in Islamic Finance news dated 15th July 2020 (Volume 17, Issue 28)