Ladies' turn: VGP shareholders elect new board members

Interview with newly elected VGP shareholders board members Katherina Reiche, Vera Gäde-Butzlaff and Ann Gaeremynck

Diversity is important in business, as it is also in other aspects of life and society, and diversity certainly is valued at VGP. It is very positive, therefore, that three outstanding professional women have just been elected to VGP’s board as independent directors. The new directors are Katherina Reiche, Vera Gäde-Butzlaff, and Ann Gaeremynck. Together, they now constitute VGP’s independent directors. These women bring diversity to VGP’s board also by their various professional backgrounds and personal perspectives.


VGP Location3 asked what it is about VGP that motivated each of them to accept a board seat:

“VGP is an incredibly exciting company with an impressive history of growth,” remarked Katherina Reiche, who is German. “It’s a family-run company with a clear European focus. Those are just three good reasons – among many others – for supporting VGP in my new function.”

“I am impressed by VGPs development to date and convinced by its business model,” noted Vera Gäde-Butzlaff, also German. “In my opinion,has all the necessary requirements to be successful in the long term. An important success factor is that the industrial parks are both built and operated by VGP, and always with an emphasis on high technological and environmental quality.”

“First, it is an entrepreneurial, listed firm with a clear mission, vision, and strategy,” pointed out Ann Gaeremynck, who is Belgian. “The firm performs very well, has committed shareholders, and is very well run by a highly experienced CEO and qualified management team. Moreover, the functional complementarity within the board and the fact that an appropriate set of expectations were put forward for my role were definitely important in my decision.


“VGP is an incredibly exciting company with an impressive history of growth. It’s a family-run company with a clear European focus.”
Katherina Reiche

CEO Jan Van Geet recently affirmed that he is “extremely pleased that our board nominated Ann, Katherina, and Vera to join the board. They have all three enjoyed exceptional professional careers: Katherina and Vera have invaluable experience in co-operating with German municipalities, state governments, and with clients at the interface of the public and private sectors and Ann in financial reporting, audit, and governance.”

Ann Gaeremynck is currently a professor of accounting and audit at the KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration. She holds the Deloitte Chair on Governance. Her fellow board members have chosen Gaeremynck to chair VGP’s audit committee.  

Katherina Reiche is CEO of the Association of Municipal Enterprises in Germany, as well as President of the European Confederation of Public Employers and Enterprises. She formerly served in Germany’s Bundestag.

Vera Gäde-Butzlaff previously was an Assistant Secretary of State at the Ministry for Regional Planning, Agriculture and the Environment of Saxony-Anhalt, served as CEO of the Berlin Waste Management and City Cleaning Company, and later as CEO of a large regional German energy provider. Presently, she chairs the supervisory board of Vivantes, a municipal company running hospitals in Berlin.

The new board members were asked what they envision for VGP in future and where they see its opportunities. 

“VGP will continue to grow,” Reiche predicted, “because the logistics sector is growing, because online shopping continues to pick up speed, and because the demand for smart buildings in top locations is increasing… Management at VGP has demonstrated a good feel for trends. The company is quite well connected in many European countries. Growth is rapid, but without overheating. The trend toward the fully connected shop floor is obvious. Industry 4.0 needs Premises 4.0.”

Gaeremynck anticipates that VGP will continue to build its portfolio of logistics retail estate in its current markets as well as new regions while focusing on market segments with potential to generate earnings and long term value. “To realise those goals,” she added, “I am convinced that the land bank is really an important asset and in my opinion defi nitely off ers a competitive advantage given the increased attention of local authorities to open space, climate, and related sustainability. I’m also convinced that the sound fi nancial strategy – in particular the joint venture with Allianz – will help VGP to realise the goals it has set out for itself. Overall, I am convinced that VGP will defi nitely strengthen its position as a key pan-European player in the logistic retail estates market segment. I expect that VGP will further expand geographically within Europe in its key (Germany) as well as in new well defi ned markets.” Overall, I am convinced that VGP will defi nitely strengthen its position as a key pan-European player in the logistic retail estates market segment. I expect that VGP will further geographical expand within Europe in its key (Germany) as well as in new well defined markets.”

Gäde-Butzlaff emphasised the strategic importance of technology and forward thinking. “VGP has the opportunity,” she said, “to off er its customers future-proof solutions with innovative and sustainable concepts, and digitisation naturally plays a key role in this.” 


“In my opinion, VGP has all the necessary requirements to be 
successful in the long term.”
Vera Gäde-Butzlaff

In view of their specific experience and expertise, VGP Location3 asked Gäde-Butzlaff and Reiche for their views on whether today’s evergrowing cities have a sufficiently holistic view on creating industrial developments and logistics systems and how they expect co-operation between local communities and logistics real estate developers will develop in future. 

Unfortunately, Gäde-Butzlaff related, cities typically do not take such a holistic view. “Far too often,” she said, “individual projects are still approved without reference to the different needs of the cities.”

Holistic planning is complicated, of course, because of all the conflicting interests and forces in play. As Reiche pointed out, “We have to take several different megatrends into account: urbanisation, digitalisation, individualisation, climate change, and the pursuit of sustainable development.” She notes, for example, that in major cities and metropolitan areas “urbanisation is increasing the competition for space: residential space, commercial space, space for public services, space for rest and recreation – everything is getting scarce… It’s come to a point where wehave to provide justifications for the construction and use of commercial spaces, although every mayor and city  councilperson knows you can’t run a government without a solid business base, without strong companies.” 

Gäde-Butzlaff emphasised that the relationships between logistics real estate developers and local authorities must be intensified and that communication should begin at a very early stage. “Ultimately,” she said, “the developers and municipalities must see themselves as partners in answering the question of how development and traffic can be resolved with a view to the requirements of the ever-expanding cities.”


“In my opinion the VGP’s land bank is really an important asset
and it definitely offers a competitive advantage given
the increased attention of local authorities to open
and related sustainability.”
Ann Gaeremynck

Developers and municipal authorities are not the only stakeholders, of course. “We often encounter conflicting interests in cities, and these have to be balanced through democratic processes,” Reiche pointed out. “That often takes a long time – far too long for a company that wants to grow like VGP. But the reconciliation of interests is essential to democracy. A city needs a healthy business structure to provide services to its citizens. Companies need quick decisions and a government that supports them. And cities need to strike a balance between economic, social, and ecological targets. VGP has decided to take responsibility within the triangle of sustainability. I think that’s the right choice, and an important one. VGP shows that it is looking at the big picture that includes a social market economy and a democratic society.”