Saturday, December 4

Santander opens to convert closed branches into homes | Companies

Santander picks up speed with its new real estate company dedicated to managing the assets of its old branches. The company, named RetailCo as advanced Five days In April, it completed its management team and now has 746 bank offices under management for rent, according to sources from the financial institution. As a novelty, in addition, there is the possibility of converting these premises into housing due to the high demand in the residential for lease.

RetailCo, a 100% Santander company, was born with the aim of maintaining that heritage and obtaining revenue from the rental management. Its assets come from the closure of bank headquarters in the process of restructuring its network and staff adjustment, reduced with 3,572 employees leaving in July. The entity chaired by Ana Botín has the intention, as it has communicated, to close around 1,000 of these branches.

RetailCo real estate comes to manage all that heritage. Those 746 assets it already has represents more than 200,000 square meters of commercial area under management.

As an exit to closed branches, the bank is betting on all kinds of activities, with rentals to new tenants such as supermarkets, fashion, technology services, offices with flexible spaces (coworking), or proximity or last mile logistics, something in high demand among e-commerce operators.

The real estate agency has been in business for eight months and has closed rental contracts with companies comor Sanitas, Asisa, Saint Lucia, Calzedonia, KFC, Restalia (group of 100 Montaditos or La Sureña, among other brands), Flying Tiger or even banks like Deutsche Bank y Targo Bank.

Given the strong demand for rental housing, Santander is also open to RetailCo being able to transform some of these old bank offices into houses, especially in certain cities where this offer is necessary, according to sources from the entity. Obviously, not all those old Santander offices could be transformed into a residential asset, but some of them could.

Recently, the Socimi Merlin Properties also pointed out that in certain areas the possibility of converting obsolete premises and offices into rental housing could be an option for the sector. Due to the difficulty of young people to save and access mortgages, there is currently a strong pressure towards rent, mainly in large cities, where the supply is scarce and of low quality.

RetailCo’s assets are located in 50 provinces. Most of them are in Andalusia, Madrid and Catalonia (see graph).

Santander seeks with the specialized management of RetailCo to value these assets, mostly located in areas prime (the best locations in a city) or in attractive commercial areas for different activities. The real estate company already plans to have a rented portfolio of around 15,000 square meters by the end of the year.

To manage the new company, Santander has also completed the management team. As CEO you have Jorge gonzalez, from the real estate Intu. It has also hired Ignacio Ancha, from the consulting firm Cushman & Wakefield as director of operations and Luis González Martino, previously at Deloitte, as director of valuations.

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