Guild Living targets Italy, Spain and Portugal

Sample exterior of the proposed Italian community (Galzignano Terme)

One year on from its launch in Europe, the London-headquartered later living developer Guild Living is in talks to acquire three sites in Italy, one in Spain, and one in Portugal in 2022, its co-founder and director Eugene Marchese tells HealthInvestor UK.

For Marchese, the retirement living market has huge potential. “If you look across the globe, baby boomers will be the fastest-growing age and social services provided by local authorities just won’t meet the demand,” he says.

“Guild Living wants to become an important part of people’s choice and of the infrastructure to support the elderly. We are talking with investors and expect to build up to 10,000 apartments in the next five years across Europe.”

Guild Living was established in 2018. Initially, it embarked on a two-and-a-half-year partnership with Legal and General investment manager to deliver urban retirement senior living communities across the UK. Legal and General seeded Guild Living but they’ve gone separate ways since.

Marchese explains that Guild Living has a very different business model – a hybrid model of retirement communities and care home communities: “We’re looking to provide the environment that facilitates people to live as independently as possible, but also provides the assistance and the support in a very dignified and respectful way and doesn’t feel like in an institutional environment in a clinic or a medically based environment. So, we focus on longevity.”

In the UK, the group has worked on four projects, in Bath, Epsom, Walton-on-Thames, and Uxbridge. These projects are owned by Legal and General.

As part of its expansion in Italy, the developer has already tested the market over the demand for this type of senior living. A 10-week targeted campaign brought more than 8,000 enquiries, Marchese says, adding that Guild Living is further working with academic and financial advisors about its expansion plans.

And it will further target Spain and Portugal. “There’s high investor appetite to get involved in the retirement communities’ sector,” Marchese adds.

From an investment return perspective, he says, all the projects that Guild Living is currently busy with, show a 20% internal rate of return, and up to anywhere between 25 and 30% return on cost.

Speaking about the Southern European market, he says it is primed for this type of care. “The only options for care in these regions today are homecare, moving with the children, or staying at home until an event happens and then the elder must move into a care home.

“Of course, there are some lovely care homes around, but it’s not a way of planning for someone’s long-term well-being and longevity. So, what we’re looking to do is to create and deliver an option that doesn’t exist in the Southern European market.”

As for competition, Marchese sees family homes as Guild Living’s main competitor adding that the key challenge is that Guild Living offers a new product and needs to educate the customer, the local councils and then, ultimately, its investors, especially when it comes to Southern European ones.

Date published: May 10, 2022

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