By bringing together investors, engineers, architects, estate agents and lawyers, this format has proved very popular as a forum for seeing into the future, with the round-table discussion about the state of trade shedding light on new trends.
It seems that the market has accepted the new, higher prices of building material and labour, factoring these into costings, as well as a general difficulty of recruiting and retaining workers. “The wave of difficulties is behind us,” said one participant. Automation in logistics and manufacturing looks to be one answer to the labour shortage. The question of Ukrainian labour in the construction sector was also raised. One the one hand, the opening of the German labour market has not led to an exodus of Ukrainians heading west in search of higher pay – it is more likely that this process will happen more gradually than feared. On the other hand, Ukrainians are still moving to Poland in significant numbers.
The current construction boom, driven by EU funded infrastructure projects, seems to be benefiting the whole of Poland, with logistics hotspots such as Warsaw and its suburbs (in particular to the south of the capital), upper Silesia and central Poland (Stryków in particular at the junction of the A1 and A2 motorways) doing particularly well. The Szczecin metropolitan area, including towns such as Stargard, is another ecommerce logistics hotspot serving Germany and Scandinavia as well as CEE.
Last-mile logistics, driven by ecommerce, will be a growth trend, as urban consumers demand ever-faster delivery of goods bought online. At the same time, retail is also shifting away from large edge of town retail parks towards smaller units in city centres.
Labour shortages are reshaping Polish geography. Participants talked of factories and distribution centres busing their employees from a radius of up to 80km (each way, each day) whereas this radius was originally ‘only’ 25km.
The Warsaw office market was subject to scrutiny; within the next two years several very large projects will come onto the market – these are already to a pre-leased to a far greater extent than the previous wave of new offices that was completed around the beginning of this decade. The ‘Mordor’ office district of southern Warsaw is not facing mass depopulation as corporates move into newer buildings to the west of the capital’s centre. Rather, some buildings are being repurposed; others are finding new public-sector tenants. But the worst ones are struggling.
Poland’s smaller towns are attractive to retailers, with towns with populations as small as 20,000 being of interest. But a new threat is ecommerce; one participant spoke of the delight in her village some 50km outside of Warsaw when new InPost parcel lockers were installed. The rapid growth of ecommerce will change Poles’ shopping habits – whether in big cities or small villages.
The next Construction and Real Estate Breakfast will happen towards the end of September 2019. If you want to be informed about the events in the Real Estate Policy Group please get in touch with Hanna Pieńczykowska (firstname.lastname@example.org).