Devtraco Expand Their Reach In Ghana – An Interview
Devtraco is Ghana’s leading real estate developer. They offer a wide variety of property options, so whatever it is you may be looking for in Ghana, you’ll find it with Devtraco. From affordable apartments to luxury, high-end homes in all shapes and sizes, Devtraco strive to fulfil property dreams.
Knowing their level of expertise and dedication in this area of industry, and learning that Devtraco has recently ventured into the world of hospitality by opening Landmark Restaurants, we couldn’t wait to learn more. We sat down with some of the dedicated, experienced and wonderful people who make up the Devtraco team to discover more about how they came to be part of this team and how the project has developed.
Jorge Osorio – Sales and Marketing Director of Devtraco Group
Like many things in life, it all started with a series of strange ‘coincidences’ (if there are such things as coincidences). About thirteen years ago, I was invited for a job interview by Amorim Group, one of the major conglomerates in Portugal. By chance, I remembered that I had met my interviewer in a similar situation a few years earlier and, at that time, he had said I would get the job. Nonetheless, it never happened; that company just kept pushing forward the confirmation of a proposal letter. Upon remembering his face at the interview, I told him who I was and he also remembered me. This generated great empathy, and at that moment I was invited to choose one of two jobs they had available: to be the sales-and-marketing lead of either their IT company or real estate company.
I said, “António, you choose for me. You know both roles and you know my profile. Where would I fit better?” He chose real estate. Also, he promised to do the paperwork quickly.
Nevertheless, on that same day, I received a phone call from a former university colleague who urgently wanted to talk to me about a job. I barely remembered Cordeiro; we had not formally met but he remembered me as I had been one of the best students. He also knew of my communications skills due to my work in the university’s student association. I learned that his dad owned Piubelle, a large, famous home textiles company in Portugal. They had decided to expand and create a chain of stores, and Cordeiro wanted me to lead that project. The salary was smaller than what the Amorim Group was offering (please believe me), but I was coming from the fashion industry and loved his passion, as well as the opportunity to create a chain of stores from zero. So, I decided to opt for Piubelle.
Yet strangely, unprofessionally and unethically, they suddenly decided to abort the full project two weeks after I started work, so I was fired. On that same day, I called the management of the Amorim Group and informed them of this situation. They accepted me and maintained all the terms they had previously offered me. This was the beginning of my real estate journey, back in 2006. I am still very appreciative of Antonio Carlos Almeida and his team for their patience and trust in me.
With Devtraco, I received a phone call from the Group CEO. At that time, I was in Equatorial Guinea, and although I was happy with my job, I was not happy with the country and, subsequently, my quality of life. When I was invited to visit Ghana to get to know the Devtraco project, its staff and the city of Accra, I accepted gladly. Immediately upon arrival on 5th of December 2017, Tyrone (now my team member) showed me around. I was immediately in love with the team, the project and the city. I call it, love at first flight.
Why has Devtraco decided to expand into hospitality?
One of my most interesting roles at Devtraco was to define a strategy for the future of the Group beyond residential real estate. Devtraco’s board was proactive enough to understand the signs of maturity from the residential market and realise that, soon, the market would be exhausted. Thus, all real estate developers would have to compete around increased quality and reduced price, lowering profit margins for all players. I was invited to find alternative and complementary ventures for diversifying investments, therefore reducing risks.
The hospitality sector was appealing from the beginning, as the few internationally-branded hotels (nine at that time, now ten) had occupancy rates of almost 90%. Subsequently, prices for a night’s stay in a hotel in Accra are among the highest in Africa; the average daily rate in an internationally-branded hotel in Accra is US$157. We commissioned two separate, detailed independent studies for hospitality projects and they both proved what we had suspected: there is a huge opportunity for new international hotels in Accra.
From that moment, we decided to create a holding company dedicated to the hospitality sector. Devtraco Hospitality Holdings is currently developing the following in Accra:
- Two hotels
- Two restaurants
- A lounge
- A café
We are also finalising plans for a hotel in Monrovia, Liberia as well as a large recreational attraction and waterpark in Accra.
So, will you be exiting the residential market?
Not at all; actually, we are reinforcing the residential business in a more targeted way than before. Here are three examples:
- The NoVA development at Roman Ridge which is on the same side of town as one of our internationally-branded hotels
- A new development in West Cantonments which includes both a hotel and serviced apartments
- A new large project of truly affordable houses, just outside the city of Tema
Do you have any plans to expand outside of Accra?
Ghana is bigger than Accra. Indeed, we plan to expand to other cities in Ghana and even abroad. Our first international expansion will start next year in Liberia, but we are already looking for opportunities in Ivory Coast, and even in Portugal and Spain because of the golden visa program.
What kind of investment, from your portfolio, would you recommend to all our readers?
We do not have a ‘product that fits all’. The great advantage of Devtraco is that we take our time to speak to clients in order to understand their investment profiles and real needs. Nevertheless, I would recommend three different investment products for three different investment profiles:
- For the investor who wants zero risk and has no time to look after his or her investments, I would recommend our new apartments coming up in Cantonments. We will contractually give a minimum guaranteed return and, in addition, we will take full care of facility management on behalf of our client. In this case, an investor just needs to wait for guaranteed returns, and we will fully manage the property for him or her.
- For the investor who likes to exercise some control in managing an apartment, namely choosing its tenant, I would recommend our NoVA development where an investor can opt to manage tenants or have our team do it on his or her behalf.
- For the investor who wants to live in the unit but still have a large return when it is sold in a number of years, I recommend our Empress Court development which comprises of townhouses in Tema Community 20. Investors will feel like they are living in the centre of Accra but pay as though they live far away from the capital.
Renato Ciniglio – General Manager of Landmark Restaurants
Tell us how you started out in the industry and how you became involved in this project?
Restaurants and hospitality, in general, has always been part of my life since I was a kid; coming from a family of restaurateurs it was like hardwired in my bloodstream. I was approached by Ganbaru Consultancy (that is the company who is running the completion of the project) back in April but wasn’t until the end of May that we actually sat down and discussed the project. It was like love at first sight, I was willing to relocate somewhere else for quite a while and I thought that this was a great opportunity, for both personal growth and professional.
What is your approach/aim for this project?
Very much hands-on, everything is looked after in very fine detail and I like to be part of a project where you have a voice to address developments and concerns and everyone will actually listen. We also have a very good and professional team at the back with a robust company, set to success.
When managing a project in hospitality, what are the key points to keep in mind?
Location, the right people in the right place, demographics and future expansion plans!
What is the benchmark for success in this project?
The quality of restaurants, food, drinks and hospitality that we will provide as a whole will be second to none.
What is the biggest challenge of this project?
Demographics as everywhere else in the world, the targeted audience in Ghana is so vast that making a choice to target just some of these people would be wrong if not a suicide. The other challenge is competition, however, we are bringing a new concept, therefore we are confident there will be no one like us around.
Clearly, this is an exciting, passionate and innovative company to work with and for. The insight into the exciting developments in Devtraco’s hospitality venture is even more engaging when told from an insiders perspective, by the people working to bring the project to fruition. The Sybarite look forward to an ongoing relationship with Devtraco as their project moves forward.
2nd Plot after Coca Cola Plant off Spintex Road.
P.O. Box AN 12284, Accra-North