A quicker rebound in online sales after the lockdown lull, along with higher demand from buyers and on-boarding of more sellers in tier II and III towns, is prompting e-commerce companies to take up larger warehouses in a multi-city expansion strategy. As per the industry projections for the next five years, the e-commerce segment is expected to take up space estimated to be 98 million sq ft, registering an increase of 165% from the preceding period of 2017-2021. All of this amounts to a transformation in market dynamics. Over the past year, demand for warehousing transactions in smaller cities has risen significantly. With partial lockdowns in effect once again due to COVID-19 spreading across and over cities, and the movement of people becoming restricted, smaller cities of the country will continue to be the mini warehousing hubs or focal points in the future. Witnessing customer consumption habits rapidly changing to online, industrial real-estate and warehouse developers have understood the importance of having a real-time pulse of the market and have set big plans for small towns in different markets. Hemant Prabhu Keluskar, COO of Greenbase Industrial & Logistics Park (a Hiranandani–Blackstone JV) says this is augmenting the value proposition warehouses offer, now inhibiting warehouse developers to acquire large land pieces in non-metro cities due to the transformation catalysed by customisation, product availability, and much more. Upamanyu Borah talks to him about the face of perpetual growth and how they stand to reap the accrued benefits.
HUB SERVICES EVOLVING; A HOST OF FAVOURABLE POLICIES CAN ONLY DRIVE SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
In the current post-GST era, India’s warehousing sector is going through huge transformation and consolidation, leading to higher inventory turnover ratio, which in turn, is enabling higher profitability. Going ahead, the Hub model will be the way forward as companies will prefer to have larger warehouses instead of multiple smaller ones. Large e-commerce players are already focussing on economies of scale in infrastructure requirements of their fulfilment as well as sort centres.
The sector is poised for sustainable growth but that will depend on multiple factors such as availability of sizeable lands, reduction in obstacles of land acquisition and consolidation, and smooth change in land use, to name a few. Multiple regulatory agencies, if not coordinated and brought under a single umbrella, could slow down the creation and operation of logistics infrastructure.
The government is playing a very active role by launching and implementing policies while taking inputs from industry experts and veterans to help them in framing policies with the right vision. That said, we need to understand that all of this won’t happen overnight, but once done, would grow exponentially.
HIRANANDANI POSITIONING ITSELF DIFFERENT AND BETTER THAN OTHERS WITH LANDMARK PROJECT ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Established in 1978, Hiranandani Group has envisioned in creating a new India with self-sufficient and state-of-the-art townships. Steadily, it has ventured in multiple activities like real-estate, education, healthcare, hospitality, leisure and entertainment to create a better experience in every aspect of life. By leveraging our intrinsic strengths in real-estate, we have further expanded the scope of excellence by integrating sustainability and adaptability into each of our new businesses, be it industrial and warehousing, infrastructure, oil, gas, data centre, and affordable housing, dormitories and skill development centres. We have 8000 in-house team members working everyday for the betterment of our clientele.
Our strength lies in the fact that we have thrived on the development of mixed-use townships which includes residential complexes, commercial offices, schools, retail hubs, hotels, hospitals, etc. The sprawling 250 acres and 450 acres of integrated townships at Powai and Thane in Mumbai are prime examples of our vision back then.
REGIONAL WAREHOUSING MARKET AS A FAVOURABLE INVESTMENT ARENA
The Indian economy is changing, and in sync with this change, metro cities are no longer the only places where warehousing shows huge demand. Grade A warehouses are coming up not just in tier II and III locations, but also geographies which earlier were not considered. Today, people wants not only time bound but also quick delivery of e-commerce orders. As a trend, this has driven growth of in-city warehousing, which will propel the regional warehousing market as a favourable investment option. We have already started witnessing this trend and from here, this will just solidify and put us at the forefront on the global map.
At our group company Hiranandani, we are ready to cater to the manufacturing boom that India is poised to. We have been providing Grade A industrial facilities with world-class infrastructure in some of the core industrial belts of the country. We have joined hands with some of the leading manufacturing companies in the sector of engineering goods, renewable energy, hi-tech items, etc. to delivered top of the line industrial and logistics space solutions. We have partnered with Blackstone to create a warehousing and logistics platform – Greenbase Industrial & Logistics Park to facilitate the same and showcase global standards of infrastructure in India. We have taken this up as an opportunity on ourselves, to create an infrastructure where national and international companies will come, to, ‘Make in India, For the World’.
Through the new venture, we have now added the industrial and warehousing part to our townships which enables people to live and work within the same premises, thus making the ‘Walk To Work’ concept a reality. Our 400 acre township in Chennai is a testimony to one-of-a-kind style of development where we have been able to provide state-of-the-art facilities in all the domains mentioned above under a single land parcel. It houses some of the well known international clients like Vestas, Gurit, Skaps, Hydraspecma and many more in the industrial and warehousing cluster of the park, all within the gated community. This not only helps the businesses to grow but also reassures their people about their well-being, safety and security.
The ‘Walk to Work’ concept is something that we will implement in most of our upcoming locations. It is well appreciated by our clients considering the challenges due to pandemic.
PRESENT LEVELS OF MARKET DYNAMISM HELPING US GROW THE ROBUST PORTFOLIO OF OFFERINGS
2020 was a disruptive year in more ways than one. But, remarkably disruptive in how it changed the way people buy and sell. It has pushed online shopping, contactless home deliveries, hyperlocal selling, on-demand home services, and a lot more to the forefront. With the e-commerce sector booming, it has changed the way companies operate, and now the need is to move closer to the demand centres so that last-mile delivery, hyperlocal delivery, omnichannel logistics, in-city distribution is made possible.
At Greenbase, we have a team of excellent professionals working on ground, beginning from land aggregation/acquisition to project execution. To grow its portfolio of offerings, Greenbase is attaching great importance to the design, layout, and infrastructure around buildings, as these will become increasingly important in the times to come – industry will expect faster turnaround times and human contact will have to be minimum.
Our parent group, Hiranandani possesses large land banks in some of the strategic locations across the demand centres of the country and is now, looking to unlock these gradually in the times to come, to tap into the potential opportunities lying ahead in the sector.
BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES MUSHROOMING AROUND THE GROWTH ENGINES—TIER II AND III CITIES
There has been a tremendous shift in consumer behaviour as most customers across the country – even those in tier II and III cities have resorted to online shopping. And, even as we talk, people are moving back to their hometowns, as the WHF concept has facilitated people to work from anywhere. This has put a higher disposable income in the hands of people working from tier II and III cities, which is ultimately leading to higher consumption in these areas.
Building a robust Grade A warehousing infrastructure across the smaller cities of India can offer seamless intra-state and inter-state cargo movement. By reducing lead times in last-mile deliveries, it can facilitate optimisation of costs.
A well maintained and efficiently run Grade A warehousing network across the small towns of India can play a crucial role in rebalancing supply chains and restoring economic growth to pre-pandemic levels. With warehouses being developed in tier II and III cities, sellers can reach more customers, thus giving a ballooning effect on demand of their products and reducing transit times which will ultimately lead to increase in the revenue of the company. Sellers can also avail better distribution facilities and returns management. Also, they can benefit with the costs in smaller cities as compared to high fees charged in warehouses located around big cities.
We are aware that there is a highly driven focus towards making India a global manufacturing hub, especially with initiatives like ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’, ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, hence this vision is impossible without taking India’s tier II and III cities along the growth curve. With rural India’s economy coming to our rescue, our focus has to be on the facilitating supply chains in these areas by venturing there and making A grade facilities.
DISTINCTIVELY ADDRESSING AND FILLING THE GAPS TO WIDEN FUTURE GROWTH PROSPECTS
Importantly, factors like poor education, unskilled labour and lack of quality manpower have created gaps in the delivery of efficient and timely services. In my opinion, the ‘Truck Drivers’ and ‘Loaders’ are the backbone of logistics, yet there is a huge scope of improvement in the skill set of the workforce, as this hampers the quality of service. The industry is led by unorganised sectors who hire unskilled drivers to cut cost. Many times, these drivers are not trained to handle goods the way a skilled professional would, creating trust issues between clients and the logistics providers. Further, lack of infrastructure in the country has been hampering logistics growth. Dangerous roads, no pit stops, no proper eateries, no hygiene or comfort is provided to drivers, which makes Indian highways very unsafe.
At Greenbase, we are building dormitories, affordable canteens and rest rooms with good sanitation for truck drivers. We are also designing skills development centres at our parks that would help to host, train and enhance the skills of the workforce. We believe these changes and contributions, though small are very critical and will surely improve their living standards resulting in better efficiencies.
WAREHOUSING AND LOGISTICS HARMONISING NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE PIPELINE ALONG SIDE NATIONAL RAIL PLAN
National Infrastructure Pipeline is a comprehensive strategy to revitalise India’s economic growth by including new projects like housing, safe drinking water, access to clean and affordable energy, healthcare, educational institutes, railway stations, airports, bus terminals, metro, logistics and warehousing, irrigation projects, etc. A well planned NIP will enable more infrastructure projects, business growth, job creation, and inclusive growth. For developers, it gives a better view of projects that are being undertaken, provides time to be better prepared for project bidding, and reduces aggressive bids or project delivery failures. It will also improve access to sources of financial resources due to increased infrastructure confidence.
Similarly, the objective of the National Rail Plan is to revive the economy by strengthening the railways from an economic and commercial point of view by 2030. It has laid emphasis on the development of dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) and the electrification of tracks. The development model adopted in the NRP will surely help in creating warehousing and logistics hubs along DFCs and rail corridors. This will open new avenues for warehouse developers to invest and create world-class infrastructure for local and regional players.
The synchronisation of NIP and NRP along with the warehousing and logistics sector can be measured through the vision laid out by the government where emphasis has been laid on all four core sectors of transportation–Road, Rail, Sea, and Air. The government has also named 13 major logistics infrastructure projects (both proposed and ongoing) under NIP to propel growth of India’s logistics and warehousing sector. The ultimate endeavour of the NIP would be to make India a US$5 trillion economy by 2025 in an efficient manner.
WAREHOUSING PARKS AND HUBS WITH A SUSTAINABLE LOGISTICS ECOSYSTEM AT ITS HEART
Logistics parks developers should analyse the various resource elements closely related to their operation to make full use of existing resources, make it play a role as much as possible, and ensure the long-term and sustainable service of logistics parks. With the boom in e-commerce and constant effort to make India a manufacturing hub, maintaining ecological balances will get tougher.
At Greenbase, we feel that adopting green concepts and techniques in the industrial and logistics sector can help address socio-economic and environmental issues in a rather big way. Our 250 acre integrated industrial park at Talegaon (Pune), which has a development potential of 7 million sq ft, is a prime example of world-class highly sustainable destination. Here, we have used Miyawaki plantation that helps build dense, native forest. This approach is supposed to ensure that the plant grows 10 times faster and the resulting plantation is 30 times denser. This is in accordance with India’s promise, under the Paris agreement, to improve its green cover from 25 to 33 per cent, and Greenbase, as a responsible organisation, wanted to contribute towards this commitment and goal. Our focus lies not only ushering in economic development of the region but to also sustainable development where concrete and nature can cohabit seamlessly together.
Additionally, our Talegaon facility is the only private park in the country which has a gas pipeline. Apart that, all our parks across the country boasts of providing excellent solid waste management system and wastewater recycling with STPs of highest quality and power through express feeder lines. Here, I would like to highlight that all our parks across India, are ‘Platinum Leed’ certified, which is an international green building certification programme.