NSI’s stated purpose is: “We enable our customers to achieve maximum productivity and growth, providing best-in-class, flexible space solutions and an unparalleled level of services in modern, healthy, sustainable buildings in prime locations”.
This purpose has served as a clear guide to all our decisions and initiatives in recent years, both with respect to real estate and services. We have consistently worked back from the customer’s needs to the real estate and services.
The post covid ‘return to office’ has made very clear what an office should offer: a great place for collaboration, identity and culture, but also a way to attract talent by way of offering modern, healthy, high quality, sustainable space, in vibrant locations, with a good mix of workstations, meeting rooms, collaborative space and focus rooms, complemented by a variety of amenities.
LONG TERM VALUE CREATION
Our long term value creation model is based on the above purpose. We strive to become the leading Dutch real estate company, by effectively and efficiently utilising the permanent capital entrusted to us to deliver on our strategy to invest in (and where possible create) vibrant multifunctional urban areas where people want to work, live and play, underpinned by sustainability, well-being and services.
We generate long term attractive returns by investing in real estate in those specific locations, as we see an ongoing trend where tenants are upgrading to better locations, with a clear focus on sustainability, health and well-being and a sufficient level of services. As such, providing the right space in the right location, with services to match, is key to success.
We also genuinely believe that the real estate industry has a role to play in reducing the use of the earth’s limited resources and leaving a better world for the next generation, as the industry currently is known to make up over 30% of all CO2 emissions. To recognise our responsibility here, we have positioned the environment and climate as a pre-eminent (albeit silent) stakeholder in our value creation model. As such, sustainability is deeply rooted in all our decision-making and activities.
We constantly strive to improve the quality of our offering. We can only deliver this with an excellent team of ambitious professionals. We aim to be a great place to work, where our employees feel engaged and connected, and can help to set and exceed our joint ambitions.
PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT & DEVELOPMENT
NSI in its portfolio management pursues a long term total return strategy, through active management, refurbs, asset repositionings and (re)developments, always with a clear focus on sustainability and underpinned by regular asset rotation.NSI is active in Amsterdam and selected other key cities in The Netherlands, in line with the global trend of urbanisation. We have a strong emphasis on inner city locations and locations at or near the main transport hubs, which are – or will become – vibrant multi-functional locations, where people want to work, live and play. We believe that this is where companies want to be, because of the proximity to their wider network and available talent pool.
In addition to location, traditionally the most important driver to real estate returns, we see sustainability taking an increasing role in determining the future attractiveness of assets, and consequently their value. We have now established a Paris-Aligned pathway and the outcome will significantly determine our investment plans and asset rotation from here.
Our focus is on highly sustainable and adaptable buildings, with sufficient scale to be able to offer services on a profitable basis, but we may also own or acquire assets that in time can be redeveloped to offer all this (or can profitably be converted to alternative use).
Going forward the primary focus will remain location: the future potential and our ability to strengthen the attractiveness of locations. This may go beyond our main office activities, as we have identified several mixed-use and residential development opportunities in our portfolio.
NSI pursues selective (re-)development opportunities to expand its asset portfolio with the most sustainable, modern, Paris-aligned assets in the best locations, at better risk-adjusted returns relative to acquiring comparable assets in the open market. Development as such can enhance prospective returns and drive shareholder value creation, on a risk-adjusted basis, if managed well. NSI is keen on mitigating development risks by operating an appropriately prudent balance sheet, selecting the right locations, securing pre-letting arrangements and working with reputable partners.
Our development projects enable us to shape our buildings and portfolio around the changing needs of our customers and provides new insights that can be used to improve the attractiveness of our standing assets. In our development vision we anticipate changes in demographics, the way people work, shop and live, and the ever-growing importance of sustainability to ensure a future-proof design. Furthermore, we incorporate services and technology into our developments to create flexible and adaptable workspaces to maximise usability.
Customer behaviour and demands are structurally shifting, with flexibility, hospitality, services and amenities increasingly becoming key considerations in the wider real estate industry. The focus on quality assets in attractive economic growth locations (and the asset rotation in recent years to achieve this) has resulted in a clear change in our tenant profile.
Tenants focus on being able to attract the right talent, productivity, sustainability and well-being, less so on costs. Providing the right mix of attractive spaces and services so that their businesses can thrive are therefore key to our success.
Our in-house team regularly reviews for every individual asset what level of services is appropriate and how these should be organised, based on location, size, (potential) tenant profile and market dynamics.
For multi-tenant buildings where a smaller selection of services is deemed appropriate, we aim to start introducing NSI itself as a brand, with a clear promise as owner/operator of the building.
HNK – OUR IN-HOUSED SERVICED OFFICE CONCEPT
HNK is our in-house serviced office concept, currently operating a total of 7 buildings. The upgraded HNK concept, relaunched in 2022, has a strong focus on sustainability, well-being and comfort. The intended customer experience aims to make customers feel welcome, connected, truly supported and energized.
One of our distinguishing strengths is our hospitality approach. Our staff is well trained to deliver the right customer experience. Another distinctive asset is our ability to genuinely incorporate sustainability in all our activities, as we are both operator and owner of the building. We can control all sustainability efforts and can pro-actively meet the increasing demands from our customers – a key differentiating feature that arguably very few other serviced-office operators can offer.
In our ambition to become the leading Dutch real estate company, operational excellence is a key enabler. We continuously explore how to make the best use of existing information technology solutions and introduce innovative applications. A best-in-class data warehouse and business intelligence system provides the data-analytics and management information to support multi-functional collaboration and data-driven decisions.
Only with the right team, culture and processes we will be able to deliver outstanding results in an optimal and cost-efficient way. The right team is a diverse team that embraces an inclusive culture of open debates, professionalism, relevant expertise and the will to push boundaries.
Customer Excellence is about putting the customer’s perspective first, gaining a deep understanding of what our customers need to thrive, and how we can best support them. Our tenants’ focus is shifting more towards productivity, meaning that providing the right mix of spaces, services and comfort is essential to helping their business grow. The customer journey is central to this.
The customer excellence team constantly strives to develop and innovate on the overall offering to exceed customer expectations, and works with the right partners to further strengthen the service.
We take into account all aspects that determine the intended experience, including the level of service and the layout, but also the personal approach of trained hosts. Results are measured regularly through NPS and customer satisfaction surveys, in our quest to continuously improve the experience we provide.
EXECUTION OF OUR STRATEGY – PROGRESS IN 2022
PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT & DEVELOPMENT
ASSET ROTATION ACTIVITIES
Following the transformation of our portfolio executed over the past years, our asset rotation activities were quite limited in 2022. No acquisitions were made during the year. We sold two peripheral assets (HNK Hoofddorp and a small asset in The Hague) and two other ones after balance sheet date in January 2023 (HNK Ede and HNK Den Bosch).
NSI sees project development as a key way to enhance returns on the overall portfolio, on top of the return of the standing portfolio, on a risk adjusted basis. We have continued to further all our development initiatives in 2022, though we are fully aware of the higher level of building costs, higher funding costs and less favourable economic outlook in general. Discipline is key. We will continue to look at the overall risk/reward profile of the business if and when we start a project, fully cognizant that we may well have to mitigate risks elsewhere.
In this light we decided to revisit the case for Well House in 2023, considering construction costs, land values, yield and rent levels. For Vitrum, we focused on getting all stakeholders aligned on the new plans in 2022. The start of the project is foreseen for the second half of 2023. For Laanderpoort we are still on track to start the project in the fourth quarter of 2023.
IMPROVING SUSTAINABILITY CREDENTIALS
In 2022, as detailed on page 21, we have set out a roadmap to align our portfolio with the 1.5°c Paris Agreement. NSI is using the Carbon Risk Real Estate Monitor’s (CRREM) decarbonisation pathways as a point of reference for its portfolio, which means that the energy intensity of the portfolio should be reduced to below 85 kWh/m2/year by 2034. Alexanderpoort in Rotterdam is expected to be the first asset to be Paris-aligned, with the upgrade expected to be completed in 2024.
Furthermore NSI made significant strides in its BREEAM ambition, withhaving a ‘Very Good’ or ‘Excellent’ label for the majority of its assets. For all new (re)developments, we are still on track to achieve BREEAM “Outstanding”, the highest possible BREEAM rating.
As per regulation for the renting out of commercial space, it must have an EPC label of at least C, by 1 Jan 2023. At NSI we are already well ahead of that target (88% at label A, only 4% at label C, no assets below).
Our progress in the field of sustainability is also evidenced by achieveing, for the first time, EPRA’s sBPR Gold rating and maintaining our 5-star rating at GRESB for the third year in a row.
We amended and extended our existing term loan facility (€ 50 million), which now also includes a sustainability-linked interest margin mechanism, in line with the Sustainability-Linked Revolving Credit Facility framework we agreed last year. By also integrating sustainability in our financing, we ensure that sustainability is embedded in all aspects of our strategy, business and operations.
In 2022, HNK’s upgraded brand positioning has been launched, building upon the customer insights and pilot testing we did in 2021. The new positioning has a strong focus on sustainability, well-being and comfort, and is truly customer-centric; customers need to feel welcome, connected, truly supported and energised.
The new food & beverage concept ”The Social” seamlessly fits the HNK brand promise, offering delicious and healthy menu options.
The launch was also accompanied by a new website, including a new booking system. Furthermore, an HNK App was developed, allowing HNK tenants to book and pay for meeting rooms and services. Another important element in our offering is providing the desired level of services and hospitality, for which our staff receives appropriate training.
HNK also established a new partnership with Nornorm, a fully circular, subscription-based furnishing service.
The new HNK concept will first be implemented in Amsterdam Sloterdijk (Motion building) in 2023.
We improved our data warehouse in 2022, allowing us to further optimise dashboards and to make data real-time and easy accessible. For example, NSI has developed a valuation dashboard in which all relevant valuation parameters are summarised including the historical data. As a result the team is able to spend its time on analysis and gain a better understanding of the individual valuations. Next year our business analytics activities will focus on collecting ESG data as well. This ESG data will play a key role in the execution and tracking of our Paris-alignment roadmap. To achieve this, NSI implemented Scaler in 2022. This is a powerful ESG data tool which allows us to control, organise and automate ESG data collection and visualise the output by providing various dashboards and reports, established for different (external and internal) reporting purposes.
The scope of the NPS survey was broadened in 2022, making the comparison with previous years less meaningful. The score of 10.3 (2021: 20.3) reveals that NSI’s customer base contain more promotors than detractors, though NSI is aiming for a higher score. A deeper analysis of the survey reveals that tenants in buildings that are fully operated and managed by NSI (like the HNKs) do give significantly higher scores, confirming the added value of the services component in NSI’s offering.
In 2022, feedback obtained from the previous customer survey has been followed up. Among other things, tenants indicated they would like to get more insight in NSI’s sustainability strategy and initiatives. Therefor NSI now (pro)actively communicates about plans and steps taken in this respect, both in direct contacts with tenants and through other communication channels (like narrow casting).