Q&A with Ian Worboys, Managing Director & Head of European Logistics at Trammell Crow Company

Jonathan: Firstly, congratulations on your first acquisition in the UK market, at Merton Drive, Milton Keynes. Can you share some insight on this site and future plans?

Ian: Milton Keynes is a strategic location for distributors and manufacturers alike, being located 50 miles north of London. It is a fast growing town, which means that there is a growing population. For logistics this is important as there is both an available work force as well as a growing consumer base. We are planning to build between one and three warehouses totalling 335,000 sq. ft. of grade A warehousing built to BREEAM “Excellent” standards. As our first Trammell Crow Company (TCC) European warehouse, it will become our flagship.

Tell us more about TCC plans in the UK and Europe, are there further developments in the pipeline?

We have now been working for seven months in Europe, and during that time we have opened offices and built teams in London, Paris, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Madrid, and Prague, where our HQ is situated. Our goal is to become in Europe what our American colleagues have achieved in the USA - to be the number one developer of choice for occupiers, agents and investors in Europe.

How will TCC remain competitive amid increasing competition in the sector?

In each country, we have an experienced Managing Director who has many years of relevant warehouse experience with first-class personal connections to occupiers and land owners. Through this route, we will be successful across Europe, and to date, this has proven to be the case.

What does the post-Covid future hold for the industrial and logistics sector?

This is a BIG question!! During Covid, the public has become more aware of what the logistic supply chain means for their daily lives. From day to day deliveries to shortages of supply of certain goods, these are all affected by the logistic supply chain. The public now really appreciates how warehouses and trucks are a central part of everyday life. Demand for warehouses has grown, and as there is a mismatch between supply and demand, rents are now rising for occupiers, which in turn, could lead to an increase in retail prices at the shops. In my opinion, life will get back to some form of normality in 2022.

Multi-storey developments in the UK; Yes or No? Yes, in certain locations. I can see multi storey warehouses working well in places such as Heathrow or in the City of London where there are huge restrictions on plot sizes and prices for development. In the USA, TCC are about to construct a two storey warehouse and I have seen the effort that has gone into the design to make it work well for any occupier. From the size and angle of ramps that allow access for lorries to deliver to the first floor, to goods lifts and natural lighting, good design and an understanding of what occupiers want is crucial in making multi-storey warehouses work.

What do you think the logistics industry needs to do to become more committed to the ESG agenda?

I think that most of the leading developers now realise how important ESG is, and will be, for the future of warehouse. No longer can developers afford to pay lip service to this crucial area of development. It is not only about looking after the environment, but also about looking after the most important asset in any warehouse; the people who work there. Investors have already started valuing warehouses according to how ESG has been dealt with by developers such as ourselves. Older warehouses that do not meet current standards will need to be upgraded or even redeveloped.

If you had a magic wand, what would you fix in your industry?

Brexit and the negative effects that it has had on the whole economy, even though it has been quite positive for warehouse development. People voted for Brexit without politicians telling them what reality might look like. Now that the vote has come home to roost, it can be felt by the shortage of employees in so many sectors such as logistics, hospitality and even the NHS. Oh for a re-vote!

What has been the most valuable piece of advice someone has given you, either on a personal or professional level?

On a professional level – “Always employ people smarter than yourself.” On a personal level “Always love your kids, however difficult they may seem to be, as life without them is far worse.”

I can imagine your job can become quite intense. What do you do to unwind?

I write children’s poetry and I'm lucky enough to have had four books published (www.thecrushseries.com (opens a new window)). This also goes well with my hobby of sailing, as I can sit on my boat drinking gin and ginger ale, my favourite tipple, whilst creating more rhymes!!

Who has been the most influential person in your career?

I would say the Partners of Strutt & Parker back in the 80’s, and John Duggan, my ex CEO back in the Gazeley days. Between them, they moulded my work ethic and how I work with my teams to make them high-performing.

If you could travel back in time to a particular point in your life, when would it be and why?

As a Spurs fan, to June 1st 2019 so that I could persuade Pochettino not to play my hero Harry Kane in the Champions League Final, as he wasn’t fit enough on the day!! Maybe we would then have beaten Liverpool and lifted the Cup in Spain that day!!

Thanks Ian, we really appreciate your time. One last question: Can you tell us something that most people don’t know about you?

I have “sex daily”….opps, that should have read that I have “dyslexia”. But despite the early difficult years, I now see it as a blessing as it made me a problem solver!