Nov 25, 2019

The logistics real estate sector in Europe continues to grow. A conference organised by the LIUC Business School scheduled for the morning of Thursday 19 will take stock of the latest developments in the sector. We talk about this with Professor Fabrizio Dallari. Interest in the theme is also confirmed by the patronage of ANCE – Associazione Nazionale Costruttori Edili.

Logistics real estate is the focus of one of Green Logistics Expo’s macro-sectors, recognition of the importance of warehouses in the logistics chain and the profound modifications currently underway to improve their efficiency and introduce new “green” uses and functions.

During Green Logistics Expo, the sector will be the subject of a conference entitled “Logistics & Real Estate: where are we at?” organised by LIUC Business School, scheduled for 11.00 on Thursday 19 March 2020 and ending with a round table on “The quality of warehouses in the modern distribution sector”, with the participation of Andrea Mantelli (CONAD Italia), Daniele Maini (COOP Consorzio Nord Ovest) and Armando Pugliese (Italtrans).

A further sign of the sector’s importance comes from the patronage of the event granted by ANCE – Associazione Nazionale Costruttori Edili (the Italian National Building Contractors’ Association).

We talk of the sector as a whole and in particular of the event on 19 March with Professor Fabrizio Dallari of the LIUC Business School.

Professor Dallari, during Green Logistics Expo, the LIUC Business School will be illustrating the latest results obtained by its Real Estate for Logistics Observatory during a conference with the participation of leading sector players. Can you give us a foretaste of the contents?

The LIUC Business School Real Estate for Logistics Observatory (OSIL) was set up in 2018 to study the logistics real estate sector, in recent years the focus of ever greater interest within the business community. The Observatory has developed a rating model to assess the quality and functionality of warehouses and during the first six months of 2019 this was used to analyse the supermarket chain sector.

For the last few years, in the logistics real estate sector, Distribution Centres have been at the centre of new investments, not just in the property itself, but also in automated product handling and storage systems. Since the early 1990s, following the increased centralisation of logistics flows in Distribution Centres serving the network of points-of-sale, the characteristics of the centres have changed significantly, as have the construction methods and functional layout. During the conference, we will be presenting for the first time the results of a survey involving Italy’s more than 450 Distribution Centres and we will be discussing the evolution of today’s phenomena with leading companies on the Observatory’s Advisory Board, such as Conad, Coop, Esselunga and Italtrans.”

Those taking part will receive a free copy of the volume “Logistica 5.0: magazzini di qualità per servizi di eccellenza” (“Logistics 5.0: quality warehouses for excellent services”, in Italian), edited by the researchers at the LIUC Business School’s Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

Thanks to the presence of logistics real estate experts such as Logistics Line, Trilux and World Capital, participants will also be able to enter into the merits of the principal solutions and technologies for quality warehouses, including in terms of sustainability.

Let’s talk about logistics real estate. How does Italian real estate fare in comparison with other European countries?

According to the most authoritative international research centres, the European logistics real estate sector is continuing to grow ever faster and with ever lower vacancy rates, particularly for property in the top locations. The growth is principally driven by the demand for space for e-commerce (both big box and last mile solutions), together with the requirements of the retail sector. As with Europe as a whole, in Italy warehouses are once again being built at pre-crisis rates, and this applies to both built-to-suit solutions and to more speculative ventures, as shown by the high take-up rates. Lombardy confirms its position as the region with the greatest logistics real estate development, accounting for 45% of the property transactions in Italy during the last 12 months.

We often hear about making warehouses more efficient, in terms of both the environment and energy. Where are we at on these themes?

The theme of sustainability is being ever more widely discussed on the international scene. In recent years, the need for measures to reduce environmental impact has led to constant growth in investments to improve energy efficiency, particularly in food storage warehouses requiring a controlled temperature. The logistics sector too is focussing new attention on the themes of energy efficiency, both from a financial point of view given the consumption and relative costs and in terms of the environment, considering the emissions generated and impact in terms of CO2, equivalent in both the transport and warehouse storage phases. As far as the logistics real estate component is concerned, in recent years, there has been a significant growth in the number of sustainability certifications, such as for example LEED, BREEAM, ITACA and many others. These rating systems, well developed in the English-speaking world, enable the performance of sustainable buildings to be assessed by attributing a score to various aspects associated with energy and water consumption, the interior environment, pollution, materials and waste. With respect to the rest of Europe, there are still only a few warehouses in Italy with these environmental certifications, but the trend is changing greatly in light of the importance of environmental aspects on the agendas of Italian businessmen.

Is it important that Italy too has a two-yearly exhibition dedicated to logistics and that it focusses on the green transition in the sector?

Yes, because in Italy there are no regular appointments on transversal themes regarding the logistics of warehouses and transport and able to represent a moment of reflection for the business community. The idea of combining the conference programme with exhibition spaces is, I believe, very efficient, particularly for a sector offering concrete solutions, such as that of green logistics. In fact, picking up Greta Thunberg’s challenge, themes such as “plastic free” (in other words, reducing the impact of packaging) and “zero emissions” logistics will become ever more important for public debates, along with a chance to see at first hand the solutions oriented towards a carbon-free supply chain proposed by the companies on their stands.