CBRE GI makes senior logistics hire

The Los Angeles-based firm has tapped John Thomas to oversee the expansion of the platform.

CBRE Global Investors, the Los Angeles-based real estate investment manager, has hired John Thomas as senior managing director to oversee its logistics strategy, which the firm plans to expand.

About 14 percent of the firm’s direct assets under management (AUM) are invested in logistics currently and the firm plans to accelerate investments in the asset class. Thomas’ first focus is building up the logistics platform in North America. He said the firm plans to invest in assets that either may be held long term or for a shorter term, depending on an investor’s preferences. In some cases the assets will be acquired and in some cases either developed or repositioned. After North America, he plans to work with the firm’s Europe and Asia platforms to help evolve their strategies in much the same way.

“My reason for coming to CBRE Global Investors is that it’s one of the few firms that has a global reach and the resources to understand this (logistics) process from beginning to the end and the network to put the deals together,” Thomas told PERE.

CBRE GI manages about $7.3 billion in industrial assets through its direct asset management business. In total, its direct asset management business had $52.3 billion in AUM, as of September 30.

Prior to joining CBRE GI, Thomas served as president of Hillwood Investment Properties’ European logistics platform. He oversaw the launch and development of the Dallas-based developer’s European business, growing the platform to a roster of about 15 employees across three European offices.

CBRE GI can capitalize on how the growth of e-commerce is changing the consumer supply chain, Thomas said, as consumers shift from purchasing goods in local brick and mortar stores to buying goods from a smartphone or computer that they expect to see at their door the next day or even in the next hour. This transition, coupled with the increase in goods from overseas that are either going to a store or directly to consumers’ doors, translates to a need for different types of logistics facilities, both where goods enter the country and in last-mile distribution facilities. One way CBRE GI plans to address these changes, Thomas said, is through redeveloping assets traditionally used as warehouses into more flexible cross-dock facilities that move goods through a building, rather than storing them for long periods of time.

“CBRE GI has been big in the warehouse industrial logistics space for years,” Thomas said. “That being said, that industry is changing at a very rapid pace…Things are never going to be made in the next town over, so this shift is permanent.”

The firm closed on one Dallas-area logistics building last week. The 900,000 square foot facility, located at 1303 W. Pioneer Parkway in Grand Prairie, Texas, is occupied by Restoration Hardware, a California-based home furnishings company. CBRE GI also purchased a 201,000 square foot warehouse in Pomona, California for $25.4 million earlier this month, according to real estate data provider Real Capital Analytics.