Diving into a Diverse Portfolio – in conversation with Helen Thomas, Head of Property Wales and Short Sea

What does your job at ABP entail?
As part of my role at ABP, I lead the property team for 16 ports across W&SSP and we manage circa 500 tenants with a rent roll of circa £30m. I also lead the strategic use of land and masterplanning of the ports across the region to ensure optimum utilisation of the land and considering what the future holds to ensure we are proactive and dynamic for growth. We have a large land bank with and a range of development sites across most of the ports.

There are many things I really enjoy in my role. The maritime industry is an exciting space to work, especially because of our ports’ critical role in supporting the UK net zero transition. We have our plan to reach net zero from our own operations by 2040, whilst also supporting large scale green energy infrastructure projects.

The strong sense of ambition to grow and develop the business, combined with a commitment to sustainability and the diverse features of our property portfolio, provide fertile ground for a very exciting career. We work with many types of tenants due to the diverse size and locations of different ports, which means there is huge scope for learning and thinking creatively.

What attracted you to ABP as a business?
There are many factors that attracted me to join ABP. The company’s large and diverse property ownership combined with the opportunity that exists in the industrial property market were definitely pull factors. I love leading change and learning about new industries and I am thoroughly enjoying getting to learn about ports and shipping and how property can help, influence and improve the way ABP operates.

I believe that being on the client side increases your passion and motivation to succeed and I am proud to be a part of ABP. ABP is a great company to work for as there is a strong team unit and collaboration. There is a great camaraderie in the W&SSP property team and we work closely with the other regions, this is great as we learn, reflect and socialise ideas for growth. No two days are the same and every day brings fresh opportunities.

What three words best describe ABP’s culture?
Exciting, diverse, dynamic.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen at ABP since you joined?
The increase in our role to assist with decarbonisation; off shore wind, floating off shore wind, hydrogen, solar etc. Property plays a crucial role in this and it is very exciting working alongside our in house specialists to help accommodate the new requirements across many of the ports.

Tell us about your portfolio at Wales and Short Sea.
ABP’s Wales and Short Sea Ports region benefits from a wide geographic spread, as it covers ports located in over three countries. From Port Talbot to Troon across to Ipswich, all our ports are very different and consequently provide a wide range of offers and opportunities depending on local market. There is a large portfolio of development sites across the ports which provides for lots of new opportunities.

Talk us through your team – who are they, and how does what they do fit into the wider business?
My team consists of 17 roles, I have three direct reports who lead Estate Management, Property Asset Management and Development. There are a range of roles and levels which provides for great career progression.

Property plays a critical role in the delivery of many of the major projects across ABP, we work very closely with our commercial colleagues to deliver new schemes and attract new occupiers. Property also leads, through the masterplanning work what we want to do with our land bank in decades to come, we spend time thinking about future opportunities and considering how the existing land bank can adapt for change.

What big changes are happening in your team right now?
We are fortunate because business is strong and we are seeing an increase in opportunities where property plays a crucial role. This means that we have a need to recruit more property specialists to ensure that we have a winning team that can deliver the opportunities available across the portfolio.

What is the positive impact these new hires will have within your team?
As we grow our team by attracting talented individuals who share our vision for green growth, we will ensure that we have the right team to deliver on our exciting ambitions for the future. It is a very exciting time to join ABP!

Contact Daniah Williams MRICS, Business Director – Real Estate, to learn more about working for ABP.


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