News Article CEE ESG Gijs Klomp industrial Romania WDP
by Ovidiu Nicolae | Interview

Gijs Klomp, Business Development Manager at WDP Romania, talked to Property Forum about the company’s more than €90 million development pipeline on the local market and the outlook of the industrial sector on rents and new demand.

This interview was first published in Property Forum’s annual listing of "The 50 most influential people on Romania’s real estate market”.

What were some of WDP’s highlights in Romania during 2023 and what are your plans for 2024?

2023 was a successful year for WDP Romania. Despite the volatile macroeconomic and geopolitical context, we increased our portfolio with new projects and acquisitions. We finalised several important projects: in our WDP Park Bucharest – Ștefănești, which is the largest park in the entire group portfolio, we handed over two extensions: for e-pantofi we delivered a 34,402 sqm building and for KitchenShop and Lecom a 12,864 sqm warehouse. Another project that makes us really proud is the strong, ongoing partnership with Pirelli. Last year we delivered a 25,000 sqm warehouse to Pirelli at their Slatina site, to which this year we will add a 48,300 sqm extension.

In total, it has a built area of 137,400 sqm, which is directly connected to Pirelli’s Slatina factory – thus making it the largest building rented to only one company in WDP’s Romanian portfolio. In July 2023 WDP expanded its local portfolio through a sale and leaseback acquisition of an automotive production unit.

The building is located in the metropolitan area of Pitești, which is an established automotive production cluster, centred around the Dacia Renault plant. The unit has a gross leasable area of approximately 20,000 sqm and will be leased back to the seller under a long-term, triple net, fully indexed contract.

Thus, our portfolio reached 1.58 million sqm by the end of 2023. For 2024 we already have in place several projects: a factory for Erkurt Holding near Craiova, and a building for the Taparo factory in Târgu-Lăpuș, which have both been finalised; they are working on production fit-out, and the production facilities will be operational at the beginning of 2024. The total surface of the two buildings is 21,120 sqm. This year we will also deliver an 11,600 sqm extension for TRICO in our WDP Park Ploiești – Ariceștii Rahtivani.

MRICS Gijs Klomp

MRICS Gijs Klomp

Business Development Manager

WDP has appointed Gijs Klomp as its new Business Development Manager in Romania in January 2022. He has more than 15 years’ worth of experience in the real estate industry, holding various management positions. Before joining WDP, he had been Head of Business Development for CTP. He has previously worked for real estate consultancies CBRE and JLL, as well as for investment group NEPI Rockcastle. Gijs holds a Master of Science in Real Estate Management from the Eindhoven University of Technology. More »

What is the size of your ongoing development pipeline and how much are you investing in the country to deliver the new projects?

We have consistently been increasing our Romanian portfolio in the past few years, and we continue to do so in 2024, too. For this year we have six projects in the pipeline, with a total built surface of 123,000 sqm. The total value of the investment will be over €90 million.

Moreover, we recently signed a deal for a high-yield urban logistics cluster – part of the key wholesale zone in Romania – measuring 100,000 sqm on a 300,000 sqm plot. The cluster has direct access to the existing and the new Bucharest ring road making it ideally suited for efficiently supplying retailers in the capital and the south-east of Romania. We are also strategically extending towards the western region of the country, by expanding our land reserves in Arad, with a strategic land holding totalling 27,000 sqm.

What sectors are generating the biggest demand for industrial space in your local projects?

We have a very diverse tenant base, from different sectors, covering a large palette of domains, such as industrial, retail, food, and pharma, just to name a few. Demand continues to be healthy and diverse, and demand from both production and logistics remains strong. Are you exploring the development of industrial projects in emerging parts of the country, for instance in eastern Romania? WDP is typically a build-to-suit developer: we only develop when we have secured a tenant. However, besides being a robust company with a clear direction, we are also flexible, so, if we would have a tenant request, we would definitely develop in the emerging parts of the country. We have already done this on multiple occasions: for us, it is of key importance to make sure we meet the needs of our clients, be it a request concerning the characteristics of a building or the best location for the client’s business.

Are companies perceiving Romania as a potential industrial hub for the region? Can you meet such requirements in your projects?

More and more companies regard Romania as a potential industrial hub for the region. It is very important that Romania is a member both of the EU and of NATO, as membership in these institutions is of key importance in the current economic and geopolitical context. Romania’s inclusion in the Schengen area will also have a significant impact, especially when the terrestrial borders will also be removed, and the transport of goods will be much faster, thus offering more cost-efficient possibilities for logistics and production alike. Within the context of the EU, Romania has a low cost of employees, as well as low taxation, which makes our country attractive for foreign investments. One of the key strengths of Romania was so far the rather low and stable tax environment.  

WDP provides built-to-suit facilities which meet all the requirements of its tenants. Whatever the client may need, WDP’s team of experts can build it. We have tenants from all types of businesses: retail, food, pharma, and manufacturing, we can adapt to every requirement.

We are not simply warehouse builders, we are partners for our clients. We carefully listen to their plans and needs, and together we define the solutions. We support our clients in every aspect concerning the construction of the warehouse or light industrial space they need.

What is your outlook on rents for industrial projects?

We expect rents to continue to increase: on one hand, due to the increase in the costs of development, on the other hand, due to higher costs of capital and a slowdown in speculative supply.

High inflation rates also contribute to the increase of rents in existing premises. However, what we can safely assert is that within Central-Eastern Europe, warehouse rents in Romania still remain cheap, and there is a continuous, significant space for growth.

What are some of the trends you are seeing in the local industrial sector?

This is an interesting period, full of opportunities for the industrial sector. The shifts in the global economy and geopolitics presented many challenges but also created opportunities. Nearshoring is one of the trends that is materialising: the prolonged Ukraine war, the increasing rupture between the West and different autocratic states, and now the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea which disrupt global supplies – all these factors lead businesses to find solutions closer to the relevant markets.

Also, we see companies engaging in sale-and-leaseback transactions allowing them to shore up their balance sheets, in order to stay competitive and profitable!

How are you implementing ESG principles in your industrial portfolio?

Sustainability is the path towards the future, we are committed to following the ESG strategy of WDP at group level. WDP Romania continues to implement energy efficiency measures: the majority of WDP’s warehouses in Romania obtained the EDGE certification, a hallmark of sustainable construction, which implies an average reduction in energy and water consumption and the embodied energy of material used by 30%.

We are also implementing a new system for the real-time monitoring of utility consumption. Moreover, we implemented an important new project: in our WDP Park București – Ștefănești we installed photovoltaic panels that have a 13 MWp production capacity, and the green energy production will cover the biggest part of our tenants’ consumption needs. Also, we implemented the first biodiversity project in our portfolio: in our WDP Park București – Ștefănești we planted more than 13,000 trees and bushes.