ACROSS: Steffen, you have been contributing expert opinions and retail specialist knowledge to ACROSS – the European retail real estate magazine for many years now.
Our exclusive KPI series about Key Performance Indicators in the strategic asset management of European shopping centers in particular attracted remarkable feedback from our readers across the board.
Today we would like to talk about your entrepreneurial venture for the asset class of retail real estate in times of disruptive markets. Tell us, how is iMallinvest doing as a company, four years after its launch?
Steffen Hofmann: We are doing good, actually. Entering the fifth year of business operations, we are, by definition, no start-up company anymore. Nowadays, our brand is considered an established player in a very dynamic market niche.
The complexities around the asset class of shopping centers have created a market environment, where even educated investors simply want to get a clearer view of asset-specific risks and opportunities for their existing portfolio assets or targeted new investments.
Consequently, there is a growing market for dedicated retail specialist advisors who can contribute significantly to safeguarding investors and ensuring that they are betting on the right horse with their future retail allocations.
ACROSS: Can you translate this observation into concrete figures for your business?
Hofmann: Of course, we can. Since the company’s launch in spring 2014, iMallinvest has already emerged as an independent advisor in more than 20 major real estate projects.
This includes nine successfully completed large-scale real estate transactions with a total transaction volume exceeding €1.1bn, but also the delivery of various bread-and-butter advisory mandates for standing assets, for example related to value creation through holistic scheme repositioning programs or the optimization of net operating income positions through improved operational management structures. Had you asked me four years ago, I would have thought that’s a pretty solid start, and there is definitely a market for us.
ACROSS: How big is your team today, and how have you identified Klaus Mennickheim as new iMallinvest Partner?
Hofmann: When I decided to launch the company as a one-man-band at that time, I broadly envisioned to take one additional team member on board every year. Our business activities have expanded gradually since those early days, as has our iMallinvest headcount.
Our team currently consists of seven people and we are therefore slightly ahead of schedule in this respect. As founder and sole shareholder of the company I also wanted to take enough time during this early foundation-laying phase to identify the right long-term partner.
Klaus Mennickheim and I have known each other for more than a decade. Following many long conversations, I am absolutely thrilled that Klaus finally accepted the entrepreneurial challenge to join the venture.
We have purposefully put our new partnership model under seal at the end of last year, and we will now be building our vision for iMallinvest together as equal partners. Two are better than one!
ACROSS: Klaus, you have just joined iMallinvest as Managing Partner coming from a market-leading fund management platform where you were investing institutional capital across the European continent and also overseas in North America.
What motivated you personally to quit such a privileged corporate job and accept this entrepreneurial challenge with Steffen and the iMallinvest team?
Klaus Mennickheim: I think an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle certainly is that I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, where my father and my brother have always run their own businesses. I virtually follow my calling, and I have always dreamed of building my own company one day.
Having observed the evolution of iMallinvest in its early days from outside, I was personally fascinated to see how much value a small, but fully dedicated specialist team can create when advising alongside established corporations.
As a company iMallinvest is well-reputed in its market, and when Steffen personally asked me if I could imagine developing the iMallinvest story further as an equal partner, I felt that time had come for me to go out and explore my entrepreneurial potential. I took a deep breath – and finally decided to jump.
ACROSS: How do you plan to operate the company going forward?
Mennickheim: We will be operating the company from two local offices based in Hamburg and the Rhine-Main region. From a pure business perspective these are the two most important hubs in our industry in Germany. Apart from building our Hamburg operation, one of my main tasks will be the establishment of strategic business partnerships.
ACROSS: What are your key services and who are your typical clients?
Mennickheim: iMallinvest is and will remain a dedicated retail asset management and retail investment advisory firm. We provide our services predominantly to institutional clients. Our diversified client base includes large institutional real estate players and sophisticated international investment boutiques, but also real estate developers as well as some privately-owned family businesses based in Germany and Austria.
ACROSS: We thank you for this open conversation and sharing your entrepreneurial insights.