Many of the consumer trends sends seen in the pandemic, from online shopping to the takeaway boom, are here to stay, warehousing firm LondonMetric has predicted.
The FTSE 250 company, which counts Amazon and Lidl among its customers, saw the value of its property portfolio rise to £2.6 billion in the year to March, from £2.4 billion.
It was boosted by site acquisitions and high occupier demand for space. Retailers have needed extra warehouse space in response to soaring online orders.
LondonMetric’s chief executive Andrew Jones expects more businesses will also look to open ‘dark kitchens’, which are food preparation hubs aimed at giving restaurants and other dining firms more room to work on takeaway orders.
Last week the group bought warehouses in Brent Cross and Streatham and agreed a 20 year lease with Jacuna Kitchens across around 75% of the combined space. The tenant will operate around 100 dark kitchens across both locations.
Jones today said: “A number of temporary behaviours have become permanent… we are [more] used to ordering online.”
The boss added: "Whilst we have all experienced a truly unprecedented last 12 months, in many ways Covid-19 has merely accelerated longer term trends that were already being driven by technological advancement and changing consumer behaviour.”
He said: “Logistics, healthcare and grocery real estate have been significant beneficiaries of this acceleration delivering standout performances and enjoying an ever-wider margin of victory over other real estate sectors.”
In the full year LondonMetric recorded a 6% rise in net rental income to £123.3 million.
According to property agent Knight Frank, 2.4 million square feet of industrial and logistics space was signed for in greater London and South East region in the first three months of 2021. This was double the level recorded a year earlier.
Claire Williams, research associate at Knight Frank, said: “Even though shops have reopened, e-commerce and online shopping platforms will continue to play a much bigger role in the retail market than they did pre-pandemic.”