Outstanding Contribution to Real Estate 2023

Eurobuild Awards
Tomasz Lubowiecki founded 7R from humble beginnings, but in just 15 years has created a strong and well-known brand. Since then, and without the support of foreign capital, the warehouse developer has grown to become one of the leaders of the sector, successfully competing with international players. This year, he signed one of the largest M&A deals on the European real estate market by partnering with Nrep

Rafał Ostrowski, ‘Eurobuild CEE’: Your success story is the kind that people always find irresistible. You started almost from scratch as a small local company with very little capital, but since then you have climbed to the top of the tree, becoming one of the three most active warehouse developers in Poland. What are you most proud of when you look back at what you have achieved over these years?

Tomasz Lubowiecki, 7R: This is a difficult question, because whenever I hear the word ‘proud’, I immediately think of the saying: pride comes before a fall. Indeed, looking back over these last 15 years, I am very happy with what we have accomplished. I always try to see beyond the horizon, which led me towards creating something big. But I wanted 7R to be more than that. I wanted 7R to stand out. I wanted to add more colour to the greyness of warehouses. But I’m not just talking about appearances, although design has always been important to me. Above all, I wanted 7R to stand out through its quality: the quality of the buildings, the quality of the approach to customers, and the quality of our approach to partners. This is what we have succeeded in doing; and of this, I am very proud. Throughout this adventure, we have constantly striven to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate the market demand. We have assembled a dedicated team of professionals who share our passion and commitment. This unique approach is our strength, and our dynamic nature has positioned us as both a leader and a pioneer in our sector.

What was the most difficult thing that you’ve had to face to make this story come true?

The thing that has always held us back from creating something bigger was the capital. Initially, it was difficult to convince anyone that we could do it, but we were determined and open to enter into partnerships – firstly with private capital, then institutional capital, and eventually partnerships with competitors. This openness is the basis of our success, which is reflected by the award I have received today. I am proud of what we have accomplished with our partners because the landscape of today’s industrial real estate segment is largely the result of this cooperation, for which I am very thankful.

For many years, 7R was also unique in that it relied entirely on Polish capital for its growth. That changed in August 2023, when Danish real estate investor Nrep acquired a majority stake in your company. How has this changed the way you work, and what does this change mean for you?

The partnership with Nrep is a very strategic step for us. It means that we have gained a strong and reliable partner who shares our vision and values, who can support us with their expertise and capital, and who happens to be an industry leader in sustainability. In this way, we have gained access not only to the best know-how but also to a wider network of clients and opportunities, both in Poland and abroad. The way we work has not changed very much. We still make our own decisions, but we also consult and cooperate with Nrep on the most important matters.

What are 7R’s next steps going to be – your next goals?

Our next goal is to become a fully integrated real estate company, not only as a developer but also as the owner and manager of our assets. We want to build and retain our own portfolio of properties, which will generate stable and long-term income. We also want to continue to develop our projects in line with the highest sustainability and social responsibility standards. We believe that the future of the warehouse market lies in adopting ESG principles, and we want to be the leader in this field.

In the last two decades, many changes have taken place in the warehouse market. Buildings have become much more complex, environmentally friendly, people-friendly, and automated. What do you think will be the single most important change in terms of warehouses as a product and the market itself in the foreseeable future?

I think that the most important change will be the increasing demand for flexibility. Warehouse users will expect more than just a box to store their goods. They will want space that is comfortable and safe for their employees and that is also high-quality and technologically advanced, and we are ready to provide such ‘beyond storage’ solutions. But the most important issues will be related to the protection of the planet. That’s why we have already introduced a decarbonisation strategy, and will be specialising in low-carbon and then zero-carbon warehouses.

You have a degree in philosophy, which you graduated in before entering the real estate sector. Have you given any philosophical thought to your business life and to what has happened over the years? Are there any general conclusions that you’ve reached that you think we could also benefit from?

During my studies, I specialised in analytic philosophy and wrote my thesis on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theory of reality. This theory describes reality as arranged out of atomic facts into states of affairs that constitute the world around us. This abstract theory is not far from what we do, namely the creation of reality or, in my case, the construction of warehouses. Initially, one needs to have a vision and collect facts, with analytical care, and then logically assemble them for a development project. Ontology describes the world and how it is put together. When I finished philosophy I moved from theory to practice, from description to creation. I’m also very fond of the final proposition of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, prohibiting all pointless talk: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent.”

About Tomasz Lubowiecki

Tomasz is the founder and CEO of 7R, which specialises in the development of high-quality warehouses. He has over 20 years of experience in the real estate sector. He is a graduate of the International Academy für Philosophy in Liechtenstein and the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. Outside the professional sphere, his passions include cycling and alpine skiing. He has won the giant slalom amateur champion of Poland title five times. He is also an art connoisseur and the initiator of the ‘Warehouse of Art’ series of temporary exhibitions. Together with 7R, he supports local communities and charities.

7R was established in 2008. Since that time, the company has grown rapidly to become one of the biggest players on the Polish warehouse market. The company’s portfolio includes large logistics parks, urban warehouses and BTS projects. The total warehousing area built so far by 7R now comes to more than 1.8 mln sqm. In 2022, it closed more than a dozen transactions worth more than EUR 430 mln, amounting to almost 20 pct of the total investment volume for the sector in Poland. This was a record for the developer, surpassing its previous record set in 2021, when it sold projects for a total value of around EUR 400 mln. In 2023, 7R entered into a strategic partnership with Nrep (through Nordic Strategies Fund V), through which it has become 7R’s majority shareholder. Nrep is to invest around EUR 200 mln of new capital in the company, turning it into one of the best-capitalised logistics and industrial property developers in Poland.