It would probably be hard to find a toy with stronger associations to real estate than building blocks. Everyone played with them in their childhood and apart from being pure, unadulterated fun, they gave us the opportunity to build something complicated out of simple elements, thus helping to shape our imaginations and give us the confidence to create something new – and after all, you could always take the whole thing apart and start over again.
Such capabilities are priceless when you finally grow out of playing in the sandpit. They are particularly crucial when you set up your own company and have to compete against tough competition. And there is no shortage of people with such skills around, judging from our annual Round Table Discussion in this issue. It was attended by the heads of Polish real estate agencies that have to succeed in a market dominated by the largest international players. They have built their companies through perseverance, ambition and without any illusions or complexes about taking on the big boys. Another large company featured on these pages is ECE, the portfolio of which comprises almost 200 facilities with a total value of over EUR 30 bln. Alexander Otto tells us how it was possible to develop a local German company into a smooth international operation active in 14 countries, as well as about the group’s future plans. Meanwhile, the people in charge of the Marriott group, which became the largest hotel chain in the world following the acquisition of Starwood, have to face an even greater challenge. They are the current pace-setters on the market, but will others follow them? We try to answer this question in an article entitled ‘A Market for Giants’. It wouldn’t be so surprising if, when the dust finally settles after this clash of the hotel titans, this also turned out to be a boon for Polish companies involved in module construction. The sector, which is struggling to enter the mainstream in our country, has become something of a seam of gold for the local manufacturers supplying the ‘blocks’ they manufacture for the construction of buildings across the world. We also encourage you to read our report from this year’s MIPIM fair, which took place for the 28th time in the homeland of René Descartes – a philosopher who, like few people before him, fully appreciated how the smallest elements could successfully be combined.