Landlords of London - SEGRO (Slough Estates Group)

Welcome to the next instalment of the Landlords of London series! In this set of posts, I’ll be delving into the details of some of the most prominent commercial landlords in London.

Each profile will take a brief look at each corporate owner’s history, as well as creating a summary of a few investments in their portfolios.

Now that we’ve kicked things off with The Grosvenor Estate, let’s move on to examine Europe’s largest warehouse owner, SEGRO, in more detail…

What you should know about SEGRO

After World War I, Lord Percival Perry, Redmond McGrath, and Noel Mobbs got together in 1920 to form the Slough Trading Company so they could buy a former military repair depot in Slough, along with its buildings and vehicles.

Following their £7 million purchase, the team rehired all the former military depot’s original staff – this time providing better working conditions – and adapted or recycled the military vehicles to sell them off at a profit.

Once those were gone, the company ended up with surplus workshop space… someone then had the bright idea to rent those out to customers – and then the property company was born! By 1926, the Slough Trading Company became Slough Estates.

By 1994, Slough Estates became the largest industrial property developer in the UK and Europe. Over the years, the company expanded to countries including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Australia, Canada, and the US – though it’s now firmly refocused on the European market.

In 2007, the Slough Estates Group was one of the first UK companies to convert to the new real estate investment trust ‘REIT’ status – and with that conversion, the company rebranded as SEGRO.

Today, SEGRO’s headquarters are in the heart of central London, but the company still holds close its very first base in Slough! It also has offices in other European cities like Paris, Milan, Prague, and Düsseldorf.

As of June 2021, the Group’s property portfolio was valued at £14.4 billion (with £17.1 billion of assets under management). The entire portfolio comprises around 8.8 million square metres, with the majority (73%) of assets based in continental Europe.

SEGRO’s French and German operations have portfolios valued at £1.6 billion and £1.5 billion, respectively. Its Poland business is worth around £627 million. In contrast, SEGRO’s London portfolio alone (around 1.2 million square metres of industrial property) is worth just over £5.3 billion.

The company’s asset portfolio comprises two main asset types: urban warehouses (around 67% of the portfolio value) and big box warehouses (31% of the portfolio value).

A few of SEGRO’s London properties

Given the company’s history in Slough, SEGRO historically stuck to property investments in and around the west London area, though it has since expanded its geographical horizons…

Here are a few examples of assets it owns:

Airport Property Partnership, Heathrow Airport

In 2010, SEGRO and Aviva Investors joined forces on a 50/50 split to form the Airport Property Partnership, part of a £1 billion aviation logistics portfolio managed by SEGRO. The joint venture included 23 direct property assets, 4 development sites, and 3 indirect investments. SEGRO paid £244 million to acquire the 50% stake from BAA, the portfolio’s original owner.

In 2016, the joint venture sold its Gatwick International Distribution Centre assets to Royal London Asset Management for £31 million.

Then, in 2017, SEGRO acquired Aviva’s remaining 50% share for £365 million to become the sole owner of the aviation logistics portfolio, by then worth £1.1B.

Origin, Park Royal

In 2014, SEGRO speculatively developed a new industrial site on a 22-acre plot of land in the Park Royal area of west London. The development comprised six self-contained logistics and industrial warehouse units, with sizes ranging between 36,015 – 108,000 square feet.

Before the development had even completed, SEGRO already had its first few leases with well-known tenants, including Ocado, John Lewis, Wasabi, and Mash Purveyors.

Today, Ocado and Mash are still loyal tenants – with the former expanding to take on a second unit nearby.

SEGRO V-Park Grand Union, Alperton

This year (2021), SEGRO partnered with St George (Berkeley Group) to develop and build the UK’s first sustainability-led six-storey warehouse. The warehouse itself will occupy a 1.7-acre plot but will provide 134,500 square feet of industrial space.

The project will form part of the new, 22-acre canalside Grand Union mixed-use development which will also include 3,350 homes and ten acres of public gardens (including a roof garden), as well as a new health centre and supermarket.

Works are due to start in summer 2022 and complete a year later, in 2023.

SEGRO Park, Tottenham

Just like with Origin, SEGRO is again building eight new speculative units on 190,000 square feet of land in Tottenham. Haringey Council granted planning permission in January 2021, and works are set to be completed in February 2022.

Alongside eco-friendly features, like photovoltaic cells, green walls, and ‘insect hotels’ inside purpose-built bike sheds, the site will also be a hub for a local skills and training programme with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) events for local school and college students.

Once complete, SEGRO Park Tottenham will be London’s greenest industrial estate. Lots of feel-good vibes all round!

Melody Sadé Abeni

Melody Sadé Abeni

I'm a London-based writer who specialises in branded property/real estate investment content.

In my former professional life, I worked as a global relocation consultant and spent time in both management consulting and specialist asset management firms. Now I enjoy playing with words!

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