Stewart Thomson has taken the helm at Hines Czech Republic as country manager following the retirement of Mietek Godsisz. It’s the last step in a two-year process whose beginning coincided with the company’s acquisition of Eastgate (which Thomson brought to the property company). While full of praise for a professional Thomson describes as the best business “mentor and support in my career,” he said he was happy to take on the new responsibilities. “I think it’s a good time for the office and it’s given me a bit more autonomy to build the team in order to take advantage of the market as it bounces back.”
“The biggest difference for me is that I’ve been on the consultancy side for over 15 years,” says Thomson, who came to Prague to help set up DTZ’s industrial leasing team, before moving to King Sturge to take on valuations. That was followed by a stint in capital markets. But this is different. “Moving over to the client side and focusing on the development/ investor side is a shift in mindset,” he points out. “You have to get away from the broker’s mindset of trying to find the middle ground. I’ve had to learn to shift that paradigm to remember primarily that you’re trying to get the best deal possible. To be a principal, you have to learn this additional toughness, rather than trying to keep everybody happy all the time.”
He says Hines remains sector agnostic, willing to look at anything that works, but admits some doors are easier to push against than others. At the moment, that includes what’s typically known as beds and sheds. In the latter case, the company already has 100,000 sqm of logistics here under management, leaving it nothing to prove. When it comes to residential, Hines is keen to find opportunities for build and rent, and for purpose-built student accommodation. That’s in part because such a project could be run under Hines’ Aparto student accommodation operations platform. The company is open to working with local partners in a wide variety roles including active participation to more passive models, like the forward funding of permitted projects.
Thomson says Hines is looking for projects that have potential but require a fair amount of work. “The sweet spot for us is a project that has a portion of stable income, but with some development upside, through expansion or redevelopment. Or an asset that’s significantly under-rented, but with a short enough lease to allow you to capture that in a reasonable hold time.”
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