Newly-launched uTenant portal the Airbnb of commercial leasing industry

A new online platform called uTenant offers a cost-effective alternative to commercial agents for Australia’s freight, logistics and warehousing industry – drawing comparisons to services such as Uber and Airbnb.
“uTenant is intended to disrupt the commercial leasing industry like Uber has for taxis and Airbnb has for holiday accommodation. For tenants, the web-based portal will curate a list of available properties based on their specific size, location and preferred term of lease amongst other things, and connect them with landlords to arrange inspections, negotiate terms and sign a lease,” explains uTenant founder and director, Matt Sampson.
uTenant is an online commercial property portal that streamlines finding, inspecting and leasing warehouse space for tenants, whilst amplifying property visibility for landlords, helping them to source tenants and lease space cheaper and faster.
The brainchild of entrepreneur and former commercial leasing agent Matt Sampson, uTenant puts tenants and landlords in direct contact and provides a confidential, transparent, cost- and time-effective alternative to the old way of leasing space.
“With uTenant, we have reimagined how industrial warehouse space is leased, providing significant advantages and savings for the two most important parties to the transaction – the tenant and the landlord,” says Sampson.
How uTenant works

  1. Tenants enter their specific requirements into the uTenant portal
  2. uTenant curates a tailored list of suitable properties, which have already been validated as legitimate
  3. Tenants shortlist preferred properties and arranges inspections directly with the landlord or through uTenant
  4. Inspections take place and direct tenant-landlord negotiations commence
  5. On conclusion of a lease, standard fee payable to uTenant by landlord, with uTenant sharing a percentage of this with the tenant (fee sharing n/a in NSW)

 
 
 

Inland Rail project to impact industrial market: report

The Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland Rail project is anticipated to transform the movement of freight around the country and significantly impact industrial property, its users and providers across regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, as found by research carried out by commercial real estate company, Colliers International.
According to the findings of the Colliers Radar: The Melbourne – Brisbane Inland Rail report, the 1,700km Inland Rail project – planned for completion in 2024/25 – is expected to result in potential creation of new intermodal facilities and transport and logistic hubs in key strategic locations; the relocation and/or emergence of inter-capital freight users to key strategic locations; potential uplift in industrial land values for precincts in proximity to the rail route (occupier-led demand); and higher importance placed around the existing Ports of Brisbane and Melbourne.
“From commercial property perspective, the regions which are most likely to benefit from the completion of the Inland Rail are Darling Downs, Acacia Ridge and Bromelton in Queensland, Tottenham in Victoria and Parkes in New South Wales,” said Malcom Tyson, Managing Director – Industrial, Colliers International.
“We are likely to see increased activity along the Inland Rail route from the inter-capital freight users such as Linfox, CEVA Logistics, Toll Holdings, DB Schenker, DHL, Woolworths, Coles, GrainCorp, Bluescope and Visy.”
Tyson noted that the benefits for these users would range from operating cost savings, time savings, improved reliability, improved availability and resilience to incidents.
“In line with this, providers of the intermodal transport and logistic hubs and industrial estates may also emerge to cater for the increased demand and relocation requirements from these users,” he added.
“These providers might fall into service industry sectors such as cold-store warehousing, grain and commodities storage, rail maintenance, container park, food processing facilities, freight handling facilities, distribution centres and inland container storage facilities.”
Matthew Frazer-Ryan, National Director – Industrial, Colliers International, added, “There is compelling evidence pointing towards the positive correlation between new infrastructure projects (i.e. when committed and under construction) and associated uplift in industrial land value in a region.
“The importance of these projects to improve accessibility of freight to the area is also likely to positively impact on the potential rental value of the industrial property in the region.”
Frazer-Ryan added that this has been evidenced Melbourne during the CityLink Tulla Widening project and the beginning of the West Gate Tunnel project – directly impacting transport and logistic operators in the region and leading to an uplift in values.
In Brisbane, he added, this was evident with the completion of the Gateway Upgrade, which saw land values in the Australia TradeCoast rise upon announcement of the project.
In Sydney, the Westlink M7 Motorway construction saw average annual land value growth in the M7 catchment area of around 22 per cent over the three-year period.
“As a result, we would anticipate that as firms begin to look to these middle suburban ring and outer regional areas supported by the completion of the Inland Rail, stronger demand should lead to increasing land values and overall industrial property performance over the long-term,” added Frazer-Ryan.

New tenant for NSW industrial development, Calibre

Mirvac Group has announced it has signed kitchenware wholesale business Sheldon and Hammond at Calibre, its industrial development at Eastern Creek in New South Wales.
Sheldon and Hammond has signed a ten-year lease for a 31,000m2 facility at Calibre, with construction due to have commenced during September 2017. The building comprises high clearance warehouse space and office space and an outdoor courtyard.
Sheldon and Hammond is an importer and distributor of home and giftware brands.
Mirvac Development Director, Industrial, Fabian Nager, said Sheldon and Hammond was seeking to consolidate its existing facilities in a strategic location, into a new purpose-built facility that reflected the quality of their offering and would support the evolution of the company.
“The high quality and flexible design of this facility will cater to the growth that Sheldon and Hammond’s business is experiencing across Australia.”
Located at the junction of the M4, M7 motorways and the Great Western Highway, Calibre’s location places Sheldon and Hammond at the centre of Australia’s supply network, with access to key freight routes through a multi directional signalised intersection constructed at the entry to the Calibre estate.
Ken Angus, Managing Director, Sheldon and Hammond, said, “We chose Calibre, Eastern Creek not just because of its great location but because of the confidence we have in Mirvac delivering our facility on time and to a very high quality standard, which will be complimentary to our corporate brand.”
“At Calibre, we’re continuing to push the boundaries of standard office and warehouse options, creating facilities that deliver long-term efficiencies for our customers and our portfolio,” said Nager. “As Australia’s supply & logistics, retail and manufacturing sectors adapt to current market changes, we’re delivering assets that help future proof our tenant’s businesses.”
Sheldon and Hammond joins supply chain management company CEVA Logistics who relocated to Building 1 at Calibre earlier this year.

Investment group to acquire Coates Hire

Investment group Seven Group Holdings (SGH) has announced that it has entered into a binding agreement to pay $517 million to acquire the remaining 53.3 per cent of securities in equipment hire company Coates Hire that it does not already own, from an affiliate of Carlyle Asia Partners II, a fund managed by The Carlyle Group, and minority owners.
SGH said in a media statement that the Coates Hire acquisition reflects its continued focus on becoming “the leading operator of industrial services businesses in Australia” and driving efficient capital allocation across its portfolio.
“The Coates Hire business is led by a strong and experienced management team, with a number of business improvement initiatives in place and already delivering results,” the statement continued.
“Full ownership of Coates Hire will enhance SGH’s portfolio with increased exposure to industrial services.”
Ryan Stokes, Managing Director and CEO, SGH, said: “We are pleased to reach agreement with Carlyle to acquire the shares in Coates Hire we don’t already own.
“We have had a long history with the Coates Hire business and believe with the visible market opportunity associated with East Coast infrastructure activity, along with the current performance of the business and management team, the company is extremely well positioned to create value for all shareholders.
“The move to full ownership of Coates Hire will enhance SGH’s position as a leading operator of industrial services businesses, with a strong macroeconomic environment and a positive outlook providing the potential for significant opportunities to be realised.”
The transaction is subject to satisfactory waivers being obtained from Coates Hire’s existing lending syndicate.
 
 

VIC storage leasers may be eligible for refund

Companies leasing warehouse facilities in Victoria may be entitled to a refund from their landlords thanks to a recent decision made by the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal.
Essentially, the Court held that the lease of premises used to provide cold storage and logistics services was a ‘retail lease’ for the purposes of the Retail Leases Act 2003 (Vic), Hunt & Hunt lawyers has shared.
Hunt & Hunt noted that the decision has practical implications for warehouse operators and freight forwarders, making many entitled to repayment of expenses including land tax and repair costs going back six years.
The Retail Leases Act impacts all aspects of the formation, operation and ending of covered leases. In terms of costs for tenants, landlords are not able to pass on land tax liability or legal costs associated with the preparation of leases, and
landlord are responsible for maintaining premises in the same condition as at the beginning of the lease, this includes equipment, appliances and fittings provided on the premises under the lease.
For the case that brought about the decision, IMCC Group (Australia) Pty Ltd v CB Cold Storage Pty Ltd [2017], the Court had to consider whether a lease of premises used to operate cool storage facilities would be classed as a retail lease.
“The landlord argued it was not due largely to the nature of the services provided and the fact that almost all of the tenant’s customers were businesses,” Hunt & Hunt shared. “The Court of Appeal held that the lease was a retail lease and took the following factors into account: any person could purchase the storage services if the appropriate fee was paid; the tenant’s business was open during normal business hours; and the tenants customers were the actual consumers of the storage service.”
The Court was reportedly not concerned that the premises were acquired for a business purpose.
Hunt & Hunt advises that the criteria for ascertaining whether a warehousing and logistics business’ lease is eligible to be classified as retail will include the rental amount, the size of the premises, whether customers can attend the premises, the hours of operation, the services provided and the permitted use of the premises under the lease.
“Every tenant that provides warehousing and logistics services should have their lease reviewed to determine whether it is potentially a retail lease,” Hunt & Hunt noted. “If it is a retail lease under the law, but the tenant has been paying land tax and maintenance and essential safety maintenance costs, there may be a very strong case to demand repayment of those costs from the landlord.”

Amazon takes 1 in 5 warehouses leases in UK in 2016

Amazon leased seven million square feet of warehouse space in the UK in 2016, 19 per cent of the region’s total letting for the year until mid December. Real estate consultancy Gerald Eve’s Prime Logistics report analyses the UK’s 50,000+ sq ft warehouse market. Amazon’s dominance was particularly pronounced, it found, during Q3 2016, when Amazon took 3.4 million sq ft of new space, a quarter of the 13.8 million sq ft of total lettings.
“For one company to be responsible for a fifth of all lettings is remarkable – all the more so given Q3 saw the highest-ever quarterly take-up, putting 2016 on course to be the strongest year for the industrial occupier market we have recorded,” said Richard Ludlow, partner at Gerald Eve. “Despite the uncertainty created by the Brexit vote in June, occupier demand for warehouse space remains strong, and it is online retailers such as Amazon that are underpinning this interest. The strength of this demand highlights just how robust the sector’s future prospects are.”

Port Kembla lease debate heads to parliament

A government decision to lease Port Kembla’s port will come under the spotlight during debate in the NSW parliament tomorrow.

The debate comes after a 10,000 signatured petition against the privatisation of the port was tabled by Wollongong MP Noreen Hay, The Illawarra Mercury reported.

A decision was made last year which will hand the port over to private providers for 99 years, a move the government says will release funds for major projects in the region.

However, others argue the move will minimise the competitiveness of Port Kembla.

University of Wollongong transport and planning academic Associate Professor Philip Laird told the Illawarra Mercury he was concerned about the “packaging’ of the harbour.

‘‘To me, it’s there’s a lot at stake – if it’s packaged off with Port Botany, you reduce any incentive for competition between the ports, so it reduces the incentive for a container port here,’’ he said.

‘‘And in that case, why bother with Maldon Dombarton? And in that case we’ll get more trucks and it will make it harder for people to live here and commute to Sydney.

"If the two ports are leased to the same new owner, the promised contribution of $100 million to regional infrastructure should be increased to the value of a container port at Port Kembla – that is, $500 million.”

Members of the Save our Ports group will travel to parliament house tomorrow for the debate.

Hay said the move to lease the port showed the government lacked insight into regional communities.

"There is no question this current Coalition government is Sydney-centric and we need to keep track of these guys. They are talking about $100 million in new projects for the Illawarra [from the lease proceeds]. I want to know where the other $400 million is going – the community and I are not going away on this," she said.

"We have to hold the government to account on this."

Image: kemblaport.com

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