Banco Santander has just created RetailCo, a new manager of commercial premises, owned 100% by the financial entity chaired by Ana Botín. The company, in particular, will be used to manage for sale or rent the more than 1,033 offices that the entity is closing in recent months after the restructuring it is undertaking, with the departure of 3,572 employees in Spain.
In the future, new adjustments will not be ruled out, as explained on Wednesday by the group’s CEO, José Antonio Álvarez, who stated in the presentation of results for the first quarter that the group will adapt to the changes made by the client.
The initial objective of this company is to actively manage and value the commercial premises owned by Banco Santander that are empty, in which the entity no longer carries out its activity. The project was born with some 650 assets, which coincide with the branches that have already closed in this last wave of closures until the end of March, and the perimeter can be expanded with the contribution of new branches.
The project was born with the vocation of creating a service company specialized in the management and commercialization of retail assets. The objective is to improve management capabilities to value the assets managed, they explain from the financial institution.
Given the proliferation of e-commerce and the impact of the pandemic, “it is a market that is going to undergo a profound transformation, so active management facilitates the repositioning of these assets,” add sources from the entity.
Active management will include: the marketing of rental assets; changes of use to residential facilitating the regeneration of cities and expanding the supply of housing, and the sale of real estate.
Santander’s objective with this company, whose purpose is the same as the one created a few years ago to manage its land, called LandCo, is to transform a portfolio of assets that generates expenses until their sale into a real estate company with professional management that generates positive results. .
The management will be carried out by a team of specialists from the real estate sector led by Jorge González Navarro. Previously, he has developed his professional career in reference companies such as Intu Spain or GE Real Estate.
Santander also has the Socimi URO, which owns 692 other branches that the bank has rented for its own use. The bank had 15% of the capital of this Socimi, but in September of last year it decided to buy 84.6% of the capital from Ziloit for 153 million euros. The branches managed by URO are located mainly in Madrid, Catalonia and Andalusia.
At RetailCo, the main office lots it will manage are located in Madrid, a community in which a total of 128 branches will be closed until June (Santander thus has 426 operational offices in this region). In Barcelona, this company will manage 86 stores; Valencia will add some 50 agencies, and for example Tenerife will add 43 stores to be managed by RetailCo.
Santander already created in 2019 another company to manage its land, LandCo, which has 13,000 assets, and has territorial delegations in Madrid, Catalonia, Valencia, Malaga, Seville and Bilbao. It sold more than 60 million in assets in 2020. The gross value of its portfolio was 4,500 million euros last year, with 3,500 different locations.
The success of this company in managing its land has led Santander to open another firm to manage the premises that closes its offices. A formula, as they explain, is new in the national market.
Closings. The adjustment plan carried out by the different financial institutions as a consequence of their low profitability and the changes in banking customers’ habits are causing a saturation of premises for sale in the main cities of Spain. Only among the branches that are closing Santander, 1,033; CaixaBank, 1,534, and BBVA, 530, add 3,000 branches that are closing at the moment, although to this figure we must add the closures of other banks such as Ibercaja, with more than 200 in the process of closing, or those that will be announced in Unicaja briefly after its merger with Liberbank and that will add around 500 fewer branches. Sabadell also plans to bolt more offices, which will exceed 250. And it goes on and on.