Owners of regional shopping centres are being prompted to provide more space for offices, medical, and professional services because of COVID-19, according to real estate investment trust Sentinel Group Australia.
Sentinel executive chairman and chief investment officer, Warren Ebert, said the retail sector was undergoing changes and Sentinel was converting one its regional shopping centres to provide more space for offices and medical services.
“We are in the process of converting a portion of one of our centres to offices for government tenants,” he said.
Established in 2010, Brisbane-based Sentinel Group has a total national portfolio of more than 50 retail, industrial, office, land, tourism infrastructure and agribusiness assets.
Mr Ebert said despite the disruptions of the pandemic and the growth of online shopping, select sectors of the retail market are “really booming” within regional areas, including homemaker centres.
“Retail is a dynamic business which is always changing and if it wasn’t we’d still be shopping at corner stores instead of Woolworths or Coles,” he said.
At the start of the year, Sentinel relocated their workforce to a larger floorspace more suited to ensuring COVID-19 safety protocols, stating that many businesses and government agencies will need to follow suit to get homebound staff back in the office.
“If you’re a government sector that doesn’t have the pressures of the private sector, I think you can be as productive at home as you can be in the office. But if you’re a business that wants to achieve results, I just don’t see it working,” he said.
Despite speculation, Mr Ebert says official interest rates may rise as the domestic economy recovers from the pandemic.
“I’ve been getting told for at least seven years to lock in interest rates because they were going up, but I didn’t and they haven’t,” he said, adding that Sentinel was prepared for any rate increase.