Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Arron Rampling
Having completed close-to two million square feet of residential, commercial and industrial development projects in the past couple of years, bringing the total completed to more than seven million square feet, AMS Properties has shown keen interest in further diversifying its revenue streams in the past two years, with a strategic move into Kenya’s hospitality industry at the epicentre of the Company’s medium-term growth plan.
Led by the wise leadership of brothers Ronal and Rupen Samani, AMS Properties is closely monitoring the ongoing infrastructural and property development trends in Kenya, placing concerted focus on how best to develop its luxury and mid-market real estate offering with the help of new partners and investors, who can provide the equity needed to create a good quality pipeline.
“A mere 10 years ago, we were only active in the residential sector, where luxury developments were considered a niche. Since then, we have diversified our revenue streams and expanded our portfolio in line with industry trends and demands to stay ahead of the gradually increasing competition,” recalls Ronal Samani, Director of Corporate Development.
“There is only so much that one sector can offer and as the industry has become more saturated, diversification has been key for us to be able to continue operating in the same counties, but via new opportunities that can be explored across the commercial, industrial and hospitality sectors.”
Known as the first real estate Company to achieve Superbrand status in East Africa, Kenya’s local luxury housing pioneer, AMS Properties is now a dynamic and agile organisation with a good mix of respected local and international partners who each bring something different to any given project in its rapidly growing portfolio.
He continues: “By the third quarter of 2016, we will have completed the first internationally-branded upper midscale market hotel, Park Inn by Radisson, located in Westlands; a development hot-spot in Nairobi where our latest commercial development, Fortis Office Park is to reach completion in the next month. This project has been all the more exciting for us as it has already won ‘Best New Hotel Construction & Design Kenya’ and ‘Best New Hotel Construction & Design Africa’, both of which are a welcome addition to our already extensive array of awards and accolades.”
With its three main brands – namely ‘One’ (luxury), ‘Five-Star’ (upper middle income) and ‘Fortis’ (commercial) – having already established a strong reputation for high quality and excellence in Nairobi, AMS Properties now strives to take full advantage of available funding by expanding its business interests outside the Greater Nairobi area and into the surrounding counties.
“In response to the Government’s decentralisation strategy – given the increased traffic and other elements that put pressure on the country’s infrastructure – and the devolution of the constitution in 2010, we have identified areas outside Greater Nairobi – such as Kisumu and Eldoret – where we are planning a number of projects; and we are exploring a commercial opportunity in Karen as well,” Ronal says.
Taking this strategy one step further, AMS Properties is keen to capitalise on the growing trend for mixed-use projects that cater for the full range of leisure and work needs in one, all-inclusive development, as the trend towards working as close to home as possible continues to grow.
He further explains: “Mixed-use projects are one way of increasing our portfolio size substantially, while gaining valuable insight into the management of much larger projects that make use of all the skills we already have, and leveraging our extensive network of consultants and partners to fill any knowledge gaps that we may have on a case-by-case basis.
“The market is expecting more mixed-use projects and we want to be a big part of this; having already begun to make our mark in two new central business districts (CBDs) in Nairobi: Upper Hill and Westlands. Fortis Park in Upper Hill will be a unique mixed-use project incorporating architectural and design expertise from abroad and will comprise a hotel, residential, offices and retail element. The significant number of commercial projects currently underway in the area means there is ample opportunity to capitalise on in terms of retail, restaurant and hospitality enhancements.”
In line with the Company’s rapid growth plan, AMS has been working hard to further refine and enhance internal procedures by re-evaluating the knowledge imparted on each head of department to create a better environment for knowledge transfer to its ever-increasing workforce throughout the value chain.
“Given the nature of our business, it is vitally important that there are interactions between staff throughout a project’s development. Essentially, leveraging the synergies and creative ideas from all departments means that all staff are ‘on the same page’ so to speak, and can therefore foster a more professional approach to project management. This will improve client satisfaction throughout any given project’s lifespan, right through to after-sales services,” Ronal highlights.
The next few years mark a crucial turning point for AMS, as it looks to explore opportunities in the hospitality industry and large mixed-use projects, while seeking discussions with its international partners on how best to achieve growth outside Kenya, having previously expressed a strong interest in eventually becoming Pan-East African.
“Our ultimate medium-term goal is to be listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange and this is an achievement that looks very realistic within the next few years. We are confident that our current plans will lead us towards this goal,” he details.
Backed by the significant number of awards and accolades achieved in recent years – as well as its extensive long-term relationships with financial institutions, investors, consultants, architects, engineers and more – AMS Properties has adopted an innovative and effective strategy to differentiate its luxury and mid-market brands from the competition. Between now and 2017, the Company is taking on projects amounting to more than US$200 million in value.
Ronal concludes: “Since devolution, Kenya is steadily overcoming its prior infrastructural challenges and the real estate market is reacting to this with newfound confidence, resulting in exceptional interest from multinational investors. Furthermore, the prospect of PPPs in Kenya is attracting interest from international investors from places such as the Middle East, Mauritius and Asia. Backed by a long history of working alongside international companies has given the AMS name the edge and we will look to grow in tandem with these new investors alongside regional advances.”