Commerz Real is seeking to sign doctors and other medical services as tenants across its shopping centres in Germany.

Jens Böhnlein, global head of asset management at Commerz Real, said the fund manager was now hard at work on its new strategy of increasingly acquiring doctors and medical services as tenants in its shopping centres.

“We have been working on this project for more than a year and a half, conducting a lot of discussions with people in this area before we actually made the decision to move in this direction,” he told IPE Real Assets.

“This is one option for creating a good tenant mix in our portfolio, and doctors are very strong tenants – they usually stay for a long time and we like continuity.”

According to research carried out by opinion research institute Civey on behalf of Commerz Real in July 2020, about one in 10 practice-based doctors in Germany are currently considering relocating in the next 24 months, and 44.2% see relocation to a shopping centre or office building as a viable option.

Böhnlein said that, although its strategy applied to its German retail centres, it could in time become a model for shopping centres globally.

He said the idea emerged from internal discussions at Commerz Real considering different options for leasing out the spaces in shopping centres, particularly the upper floors.

“We thought about what else we could have instead of another gastro corner,” he said.

Böhnlein said the strategy was suitable for particular shopping centres which have the right location and other conditions.

“Among the things you need or medical centres are good transport links, parking facilities, internal elevators,” he said.

So far, Böhnlein said the strategy was working very well, with not only doctors but also other medical services such as pharmacies in talks over new tenancies.

“We have a good number of doctors who are ready to sign leases, and we also have our own homework to do, including getting business permits ready and fulfilling the structural requirements,” he said.