CPI Hungary says it has increased its competitive advantage in the Hungarian real estate management market through an acquisition. The company offers its tenants unique, flexible office solutions and wellbeing services compared to its competitors, insisting the majority of the time spent in office buildings can be meaningful, colorful and full of life. The Budapest Business Journal talks with the director of PR, marketing and design and the company’s office business development and leasing director.
Real estate management companies have faced an unprecedented challenge in the wake of the pandemic, with hundreds of thousands of workers switching to teleworking, offices being vacated, and companies having to consider whether they need to lease space on the same scale as before.
Although the situation has changed since 2020, companies leasing offices have had to adopt a forward-looking strategy to survive. So did CPI Hungary, whose parent company is the market leader in real estate management in Central and Eastern Europe, with an income-generating portfolio worth more than EUR 20.9 billion, is no different. CPI Hungary currently manages 701,000 sqm of real estate, where around 80,000 people work.
In addition to sustainability and energy improvements, the company has seen the elimination of outsourcing as a key to its development and intends to operate all services in-house. Its motto is to stay one step ahead of the competition, and it says it has “escaped forward” from the economic impact of the adverse events of recent years: CPI has acquired a majority stake in two real estate management companies, Immofinanz and S Immo. The acquisitions not only doubled the size of the portfolio under management and the number of employees, but also vastly increased the size of CPI’s substantial knowledge capital.
“The pandemic and the energy crisis have changed habits, needs and, therefore, the relationship between tenants and landlords in recent years. Anyone who has not noticed this as a real estate manager and landlord is now in big trouble.”
Office business development and leasing director Zita Kovács-Bertók says that in some mergers, the different experiences and professional knowledge dovetail ideally, and this is one such case.
“In a turbulent market environment, where trends and tendencies established in the past now seem unstable, we at CPI are fundamentally changing our approach to offices after a series of acquisitions, daring and able to offer something new, synthesizing knowledge and experience,” she explains.
“The accumulation of different types of knowledge is a huge advantage for the company, which we want to further strengthen with the renewed structure,” Kovács-Bertók adds.
Of course, strengthened market leadership is worthless without a long-term strategy. CPI tailors its plans to changing tenant needs, says Bea Déri, director of PR, marketing and design at CPI.
“We know that office life has long been more than just people going to a modern building to do their work and going home at the end of the day. The pandemic and the energy crisis have changed habits, needs and, therefore, the relationship between tenants and landlords in recent years. Anyone who has not noticed this as a real estate manager and landlord is now in big trouble,” she says.
CPI says it had to dream a new vision to meet current tenant expectations. The company focuses on people, spaces, functions, experiences and safety.
Well-being services have been tailored to the new needs of people working in offices; the public spaces and their functions were reimagined to provide fresh experiences, a diverse working environment, and a sense of security for employees.
“Many of our tenants complained that the pandemic and telework had left many of their workers socially isolated, so we needed to offer them an experience in the office buildings that would lure them back into the community, to a place where they can feel safe,” explains Déri.
“The war in Ukraine and the economic difficulties have brought uncertainty. If people are mentally and physically comfortable at work, they will be happy to come to this environment. The need to create a safe bubble for them has visibly increased,” the marketing and PR director adds.
According to Kovács-Bertók, the acquisition of Immofinanz and S Immo has brought and consolidated several tenant well-being services, including the Human Innovation Program (HIP) created by CPI and the myhive brand knowledge base from Immofinanz, which has been a huge competitive advantage.
“Thanks to the acquisition, we can combine and further develop somewhat different but equally value-creating ways of thinking and incorporate best practices into our sales strategy,” she says.
“With our products, we were the first in the real estate market to develop comprehensive and creative systems that were not just about business conditions and square meters but about people. For the first time in history, we raised the office worker into the center of attention, trying to understand and serve their needs,” Kovács-Bertók points out.
CPI launched HIP to enable employees to use services in the office building, providing sporting and convenience amenities focusing on health, and managing their day-to-day affairs locally, saving a lot of time for tenants. The myhive brand focuses on flexible office solutions, functionality, community building, and providing a space for professional events and after-work recreation for office workers.
The company felt this area was worth investment because it wanted to build long-term relationships with its tenants. The best way to do this is to make the everyday lives of their employees more comfortable and enjoyable.
For CPI, creating the office of the future with changing tenant needs in mind is a vital consideration. So, too, is supporting leasing and tenant retention by repositioning buildings, aligning new and existing amenities and products, and adopting a renewed sales approach. Therefore, the company wanted to change the corporate structure and set up its business development department.
“With the change in organizational structure, CPI sought to develop a new vision for leasing and to further improve the benefits of well-being brands, in addition to more effective collaboration between partner departments. The company can now react faster to market trends, changes and new tenant needs,” notes Kovács-Bertók.
By supporting the renewed leasing processes, CPI is building on a combination of individual services provided by brands that are unique in the market to create a competitive advantage and remain differentiated.