Frank Pörschke suspected disruptions were coming in the economy in early 2022, starting with a sense the market was "a bit overheated".
His hunch was proven correct as economies – especially in Europe – began to falter due to conflict on the continent, the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting inflation and supply chain complications.
But the CEO says P3 Logistic Parks, which buys, builds and leases warehouses across Europe, avoided the worst of the tumult thanks to prudent planning and a strong balance sheet.
"We were pretty careful last year and this now creates opportunities for us," Pörschke tells The CEO Magazine. "We are seeing deals come back to the market which would have been overpriced and oversubscribed in previous years."
We all order a lot of ecommerce goods and they have to be delivered to our homes. In order to deliver them, you need these warehouses.
Founded in 2001, P3 has become one of Europe’s five biggest logistics real estate developers and investors, with more than 7.3 million square meters of assets under management, equating to approximately 300 warehouses in 11 countries.
Headquartered in Luxembourg, it is a long-term investor, manager and developer of European warehouse properties in Europe and is entirely owned by the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC).
"P3 is a well-positioned company. It is one of the leading investors and developers of logistics space in Europe, and is backed by a strong shareholder, which is GIC," says Pörschke, who became CEO in 2021.
In reaction to the shifting economic climate, P3 has been focusing on creating a set of sound financial fundamentals and expanding its world-class operating platform.
"The market is exhibiting a high degree of fluctuation, which can equal opportunity for those companies that have invested in a prudent financial approach, and can leverage their operating platform to create value," he explains.
Often seen from highways and byways, and long underappreciated as critical infrastructure for supply chains, warehouses are increasingly becoming top of mind as companies require their inventories to be closer to their production hubs, retail and last-mile facilities, as well as end customers and consumers.
"Companies need warehouses to have buffers for their supply chains," Pörschke says.
This need has become even more pressing during the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. "As supply chains were disturbed, companies realized that they needed more robust supply chains," he reveals.
Pörschke points to surveys showing 60 percent of German firms had their supply chains interrupted in 2022, while construction projects in Poland were delayed by three-to-four months due to disruptions in receiving materials.
The emergence of ecommerce, meanwhile, is also driving demand for warehousing space, especially in Europe.
"We all order a lot of ecommerce goods and they have to be delivered to our homes," Pörschke explains. "In order to deliver them, you need these warehouses."
Shifts in supply chain operations and continued growth of ecommerce have propelled the logistics real estate sector forward. "We have these structural tailwinds, which will enable us to grow in the future. Demand remains strong for logistics space," he says, even as the prospect of a recession looms in 2023.
This year, Pörschke predicts consolidation will likely come to the industry, which is something P3 plans to participate in.
"We will continue to execute on our commercial objectives, with a primary focus on achieving profitable, sustainable growth and superior returns for our shareholder," he adds.
"It is too difficult to predict what will happen in the future, but we hope that together with our sound financial fundamentals, our prudent risk-averse approach and a fluctuating market, we may be able to double our size over the course of the coming years."
An ambitious team
To achieve its ambitious goals, Pörschke reveals that P3 outlined core values for the company – integrity, ambition and excellence – along with a cultural question: ‘How do we work as a team?’
"Our understanding is that we work in teams," he says. "If you don’t work successfully as a team, you cannot work successfully." By staying true to its core values and having a client-focused approach, the company has earned the reputation of being a reliable and agile provider of services.
Also vital to success is agility, according to Pörschke, as it reflects an ethos among the company’s 250 employees.
"An agile business is made from agile team members, and talent is key," he stresses. "We have a very high proportion of highly qualified people in their functional knowledge and in their international experience. And this is key for developing the business."
The acquisition, development and retention of top talent is critically important for the business. It allows P3 to exercise its unique differentiator over competitors, according to Pörschke: its inherent ability to provide customers with a high-class experience, ensuring superior returns for its shareholder, and doing this in an environmentally sustainable manner.
"It’s the combination of the whole," he reflects. "People in the system work together in a way that ensures the outcome for our clients and business partners is the most efficient."
Another difference between the company and its competitors is the long-term stable capital its sole shareholder provides. It puts P3 in a solid financial position, allowing it to pursue and catch value opportunities even in times of uncertainty.
"Right now, having direct access to capital via diverse funding sources is a differentiator, which was not so relevant over the past few years because money was available everywhere," Pörschke says.
We will continue to execute on our commercial objectives, with a primary focus on achieving profitable, sustainable growth and superior returns for our shareholder.
"When we sign an investment deal, we have the certainty that we can close it, because we are not subject to external financing. And that makes a difference. Reliability is something that’s very important."
P3 had an occupancy of 98 percent heading into 2023. However, Pörschke is not taking anything for granted and recognizes the importance of customers, regardless of market conditions.
"Even in a strong market, if you don’t do things well with your tenants, you still cannot achieve a good result."