Media Resouces
Mapletree’s First Virtual Real Estate Forum Shares Positive Industry Outlook Amid Global Pandemic
05 Nov 2020
  • No significant reduction in office spaces in the long run expected although anticipated decentralisation to lower density areas
  • Traditional retail will continue to complement and coexist with e-commerce, and retailers are increasingly adopting omni-channel marketing
  • Surge in demand for distribution centres and warehouses as e-commerce grows and supply chains see a shift from just-in-time to just-in-case approach
  • Strong growth in data centres to accommodate work from home, virtual meetings and events as well as explosion in e-commerce

SINGAPORE – The panel at the Mapletree Real Estate Forum, organised jointly by Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd (“Mapletree” or “the Group”) and Singapore Management University (“SMU”), painted a positive albeit challenging outlook of the real estate sector. The second edition of the forum titled “Opportunities and Challenges for the Real Estate Sector in the COVID-19 Era” was held virtually for the first time on 30 October.

Professor Gerard George, Dean of Singapore Management University (SMU) Lee Kong Chian School of Business said, “Due to the global pandemic, work-from-home routines have threatened to dent the demand for office spaces and resulted in shortfall of foot traffic in traditional retail malls. However, it has also boosted the demand for cloud services and data storage spaces due to the surge in e-commerce. The change also has knock-on effects for industrial spaces such as warehouses and distribution centres. Notwithstanding, I am glad that technology has enabled us to virtually continue sharing insights and perspectives with the students and industry leaders.”

Over 360 students from SMU, industry professionals, real estate practitioners and members of the public attended the insightful panel session that was moderated by Professor Melvyn Teo, Deputy Dean (Faculty and Research) at SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business. The following panelists from a diverse background comprising real estate, banking and finance as well as education exchanged their views:  

  • Mr Stephen Bramley-Jackson, Head of Real Estate Equity Research, HSBC (based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates;
  • Assistant Professor of Finance, Song Changcheng, SMU, and
  • Ms Wendy Koh, Group Chief Financial Officer of Mapletree

Despite the downward pressure on office spaces in Singapore, Ms Wendy Koh noted that the need for more safe distancing areas may coexist alongside for real estate planning. Mr Stephen Bramley-Jackson agreed that offices are likely to remain in demand as developers review fringe locations with the working community needing to minimise commute.

Sharing from the academia’s perspective, Assistant Professor Song Changcheng pointed out that data analytics could help landlords and developers better understand space utilisation.

On the retail front, Ms Koh noted the trend of retailers embracing omni-channel retailing, building both physical and online presence to tap a wider market and strengthen brand awareness. Though e-commerce is highly penetrative and prevalent, brick-and-mortar shops will not go obsolete as retailers strive to integrate both online and physical presence. Location and size of malls will play an even greater role in determining the success of a mall going forward.

Concurrently, the surge in e-commerce has raised the demand for industrial spaces such as warehouses and distribution centres. The rising demand for perishables and essential supplies like pharmaceuticals as well as companies shifting from a ‘just-in-time’ to ‘just-in-case’ supply chain management have resulted in more stockpiling and hence greater demand for more warehouse space.

Data centres as an asset class is gaining traction with investors with the Internet becoming a lifeline in COVID-19 times. The pandemic has also accelerated digital transformation amongst companies. The outlook for the sector remains positive as the economy moves towards a digital one.

The Mapletree Real Estate Forum is an annual event for industry practitioners, subject experts and tertiary students to share trends and cross-disciplinary knowledge. Apart from Mapletree Real Estate Forums and speaker events, the Mapletree Real Estate Programme at SMU also includes the Mapletree Professorship in Real Estate, Mapletree Awards and study trip grants.


Speaker and panellists at the Mapletree Real Estate Forum (Webinar):
Top left: Professor Gerard George, Dean of SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business; Professor Melvyn Teo, Deputy Dean (Faculty and Research), SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business and Ms Wendy Koh, Group Chief Financial Officer of Mapletree
Bottom left: Mr Stephen Bramley-Jackson, Head of Real Estate Equity Research, HSBC; and Assistant Professor of Finance, Song Changcheng, SMU



Eileen Lee
Freda Tan
Manager, Corporate Communications   Executive, Corporate Communications
Tel: +65 6659 3669
  Tel: +65 6807 4045


Mapletree is a leading real estate development, investment, capital and property management company headquartered in Singapore. Its strategic focus is to invest in markets and real estate sectors with good growth potential. By combining its key strengths, the Group has established a track record of award-winning projects, and delivers consistent and high returns across real estate asset classes.

As at 31 March 2020, Mapletree has assets under management of S$60.5 billion, comprising office, retail, logistics, industrial, data centre, residential and lodging properties. The Group manages four Singapore-listed real estate investment trusts (“REITs”) and six private equity real estate funds, which hold a diverse portfolio of assets in Asia Pacific, Europe, the United Kingdom (“UK”) and the United States (“US”).

The Group’s assets are located across 13 markets globally, namely Singapore, Australia, Canada, China, Europe, Hong Kong SAR, India, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, the UK, the US and Vietnam. To support its global operations, Mapletree has established an extensive network of offices in these countries.

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