GFH unit completes early exit of Amazon portfolio in Spain amid warehousing demand boom

Significant shifts in the e-commerce and fast-moving consumer goods markets have sparked increased demand for quality warehousing facilities across Europe

GFH and Roebuck acquired the Amazon last-mile logistics warehouses portfolio in Spain in 2020, which covers an area of approximately 140,000 square metres. Photo: GFH
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Roebuck Asset Management, a subsidiary of Bahrain's GFH Financial Group, has announced its exit from its Amazon last-mile logistics warehouses portfolio in Spain.

London-based Roebuck, which took an active asset management approach that oversaw the completion of the development and takeover by the tenant, said the exit reflects an overall return on investment of 17 per cent – matching what was initially targeted over a longer holding period.

“Significant shifts in the e-commerce and fast-moving consumer goods markets over the last two years have sparked increased demand for quality warehousing facilities across Europe. Leading distributors now rely on well-located, modern facilities as part of their logistics networks. This is an opportunity we have been swift to capitalise on,” Hugh Macdonald-Brown, managing partner at Roebuck, said on Saturday.

Online sales accounted for unprecedented levels of total retail sales during the Covid-19 pandemic, rising as high as a third in some European countries during lockdowns.

Trade bodies Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce, in its 2021 European E-commerce Report, said the continent's e-commerce market grew to €757 billion ($844bn) in 2020, up about 10 per cent from €690bn a year earlier.

In particular, Spain's e-commerce market has flourished. The country is the 13th-largest market for e-commerce with a revenue of $23bn in 2020, placing it ahead of Italy and behind Russia, data provider ecommerceDB said.

With an increase of 35 per cent, the Spanish e-commerce market contributed to the worldwide growth rate of 29 per cent in 2020, it added.

Net sales of the top 250 Spanish online stores accounted for about $19bn in 2020, with Amazon.es leading the list of the online stores by net sales in 2020.

Amazon, the world's largest e-commerce company, has invested nearly €3bn in Spain over the past decade and has seen its revenues quadruple in the past few years, GFH said.

Spanish consumers were the biggest users of e-commerce during the pandemic years. Data from Statista shows that 44 per cent of respondents used online portals to shop in 2020, which grew to 52 per cent in 2021.

GFH and Roebuck acquired the portfolio in 2020, which covers an area of approximately 140,000 square metres and comprises three assets leased to Amazon Road Transport Spain. The last-mile delivery facilities – spread across Murcia, Alicante and Valladolid – form a critical part of Amazon’s rapidly-expanding Spanish logistics network.

Significant shifts in the e-commerce and fast-moving consumer goods markets over the last two years have sparked increased demand for quality warehousing facilities across Europe. Leading distributors now rely on well located, modern facilities as part of their logistics networks. This is an opportunity we have been swift to capitalise on
Hugh Macdonald-Brown, managing partner at Roebuck

GFH said its exit from the Amazon portfolio positively impacted the group’s year-end financials for 2021, with Roebuck having actively sourced a suitable buyer to secure the exit.

“While we still believe in the overall fundamentals of investing in logistics assets, our investment in the Amazon last-mile logistics warehouses portfolio has delivered the target yield and the capital appreciation desired. Amid favourable market conditions, we have decided to make a timely and profitable earlier exit to secure a strong return for investors,” Nael Mustafa, co-chief investment officer at GFH, said.

“GFH remains committed to the strategy of sourcing and structuring robust real estate asset transactions in Europe and the US that provide stable returns in fundamentally sound sectors supported by long term trends.”

Roebuck, a pan-European real estate asset manager focused on logistics and business space, was founded in 2009 and has managed assets with a total investment value exceeding £2bn ($2.7bn) covering about 1.7 million square metres of floor area. Manama-based GFH acquired a majority stake Roebuck in December 2020.

Updated: January 29, 2022, 3:15 PM