News Article Bucharest Immofinanz interview Romania SEE Property Forum
by Ákos Budai | Interview

The mindset of end-users is quickly changing in the world of real estate and developers looking to stay in the race need to keep up with current trends. This trivial statement is especially true in the case of a dynamically growing market such as Romania, which has gone through significant changes in recent years. Sorin Visoianu, Country Manager of Operations at Immofinanz told us what he thinks is driving the Romanian commerical property market.

Sorin Visoianu will present one of Immofinanz’s projects and join the office panel at SEE Property Forum 2017, co-organised by Property Forum and RICS, in Bucharest on 29 March 2017.
In your opinion which is the number one factor that will influence the Romanian property market in 2017?
Firstly, I would say that 2017 has the prerequisites of becoming one of the best years for the Romanian real estate market after the crisis. In our view, there are two major shifts which will continue to play significant roles in shaping the local market. The first refers to the massive growth in both offer and demand, particularly in Bucharest, while the second concerns mindsets, as companies are placing the wellbeing of their employees and the evolving demands of their clients at the core of their business. In turn, this has influenced the mindset of real estate developers and owners: the sector is now less about bricks and mortar, and more about services and facilities. Developers who understand this shift in tenants’ philosophy and have the flexibility to translate this into customized office spaces will be a step ahead of the market. At Immofinanz, this is a core view and we are working hard to ensure that all our existing and future properties are designed to answer the needs brought by these new mindsets. In fact, we have recently brought to Romania our international office and retail brands: myhive, Vivo!, and soon, Stop Shop.
What makes the Romanian market attractive to international developers?
As the economy grows, the country is on the radar of international companies seeking to expand their business. Such companies demand high-quality properties, whether it’s new or bigger offices or top retail locations. As an international real estate company, we have the infrastructure to provide clients with the tailored space they need, in a timeframe that is suitable for their business.
Sorin Visoianu joined the office panel at SEE Property Forum 2016.

In your experience, what are the biggest challenges of doing business in Romania?

There are certainly additional measures which could boost Romania’s attractiveness to foreign investors, thus contributing to the growth of the commercial property market. Aspects such as legislative stability and predictability, and a developed national road infrastructure will always be crucial for investors and companies who are looking to invest in a country.
What kind of firms are the drivers of growth on the Romanian property market? From which sectors are tenants coming from? 
It’s a mix between companies that have fast growing teams, usually in the IT&C or outsourcing sectors and clients who want to improve the quality of their offices by focusing on the wellbeing and health of their employees.  We have noticed an increased interest in our premium properties in the past year. In the retail sector, large international brands continue to expand while new ones enter the market. The growth in consumption is a key contributor here, and Immofinanz’s four Vivo! shopping centres continue to register significant increases in footfall on a yearly basis.
On which projects is Immofinanz currently working on in Romania?
We invest significantly in our existing properties, both in the retail and office sectors, in order to ensure that they are kept at the highest quality level, and continue to fulfil the needs and demands of our tenants, their employees and their clients. As such, one of our most important current projects is the full implementation of our office brand, myhive, in five selected buildings from our Bucharest portfolio. The Iride 20 building of Iride Business Park and S-Park have already become myhive Iride 20 and myhive S-Park, after a transformation process through which the properties’ common areas now offer an extended service range and improved infrastructure to encourage socialization. Plans call for the myhive concept to also be rolled-out at Metroffice, Victoria Park and the Iride 19 building, which will significantly improve tenants’ and visitors’ experience. Furthermore, we are continuing the roll-out of our Vivo! shopping centre brand in our four locations, in Cluj-Napoca, Constanta, Pitesti and Baia Mare. This includes a full visual identity update and the modernization of interior premises, e.g. common areas, food court etc. 
How have office tenant requirements changed over the last couple of years? How are you preparing for future changes?
A company’s headquarter speaks to its values and culture and there is an increased attention on creating an inspiring work environment that drives productivity, collaboration and innovation. The age of the standardized workplace, undistinguishable from one company to the next, is fast coming to an end. Tenants value the owner’s flexibility to adapt and implement the operational concept of the company. Other elements, such as an ideal and well-connected location, easily-available service providers, energy friendly technologies and round the clock property management, have turned into key aspects which tenants take into account when choosing their offices. This is why we recently launched a new concept, myhive, which stands for a friendly and a hotel-inspired design, as well as a number of services and amenities, to enable tenants to focus on their business and attract the best talents.
What are the main trends driving the retail market?
The significant and ongoing growth in consumption gives retailers the confidence to expand their business, or to begin local operations. In this context, small and medium sized cities outside Bucharest are becoming more attractive, and have the potential to drive the retail growth in the coming period, also attracting new brands. Regarding our local retail portfolio, we will continue to invest in our Vivo! shopping centres, as well as in our Stop Shop development.