Advice and Opinion

MD of CampusKey aims to list in the future

Founded in 2012, CampusKey is the premier provider of secure student accommodation. CampusKey Student Living has a national footprint in South Africa, with student accommodation currently available in Pretoria, Stellenbosch, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and Potchefstroom. As a young dynamic company, they are constantly adding new campuses to their portfolio with Cape Town being completed by the end of this year.

At the head of this progressive company, is MD Leon Howell. Howell is a qualified Chartered Accountant with extensive experience in the property industry in both property management and asset management.

According to Howell, CampusKey has grown into the premier provider of secure student accommodation in South Africa through their unique understanding of developing and managing student accommodation specifically for students.

“We offer secure, prime locations, fully furnished rooms, social and study areas, gym facilities, secure bicycle storage, a trendy lifestyle, Wi-Fi facilities, laundry facilities, kitchen with fridge, freezer, stove and kettle, on-site management, all at an all-inclusive price. We are very conscious of our students’ expectations and what they expect to pay. I’m really privileged to be the Managing Director of such a dynamic and vibrant company.”

As part of their expansion plans, CampusKey is in the ground with their latest two state of the art student housing developments, UCT 1 and UCT 2. Howell continues: “These properties are being developed at a cost of R473 million. UCT1 is located on the corner of Rose and Main streets in Rondebosch, Cape Town and UCT 2 is located in Wyecroft Street, Observatory, Cape Town. These two projects will be completed in time for the 2017 intake and will add another 794 beds to the CampusKey portfolio.”

Another highlight this year was their successful bid to acquire a prime piece of land, known as Western Provence Tennis, in Glen Darrach Road, Rondebosch. “Our development team focuses on acquiring land which is within walking distance from campus to ensure that students can walk, ride their bikes or drive to class and attend social activities on campus.”

By January 2017, CampusKey will own and manage 34 buildings with 3 217 beds, 20 club houses, 12 gyms, 27 study rooms and 14 offices with 36 CampusKey staff members. “We are the only student accommodation operator with a national footprint across South Africa.

Howell adds that CampusKey operates in a very dynamic environment. “Our enthusiastic staff and students have ever changing needs. We focus on engaging with all our students and their parents on a regular basis to ensure that we provide services to their satisfaction. I’m continuously looking at ways and means to improve our systems and processes to ensure that our management model operates seamless and effectively.”

Howell believes that students and their well-being should be of paramount importance. “We endeavour to understand their behaviour patterns and needs, and to address all the areas which are important to our students on a continuous basis. Some examples would include improving security and access control with the latest available technology, installing new perimeter cameras with analytical software, opening a central control room to monitor all the campuses 24/7, installing internet fibre connections where available, improving all the gyms to include the latest available equipment, to name a few.”

From a CampusKey perspective, their students must be safe, live in a social environment where they can enjoy student life and create an environment that ensures that students excel in their studies.

Howell’s long-term vision is that CampusKey will be listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange in the next two to three years.

“This means that I’d like CampusKey to grow by approximately 1 000 beds per year, which will result in CampusKey developing and managing approximately 6 000 rooms at that stage. Property companies specialising in student accommodation have created a new asset class for investors. However, I do believe that the difference between the various student housing companies is the successful management of students and buildings to ensure they’re happy. We’re therefore also developing new software and apps to improve and computerise all aspects of the CampusKey management model. We’ll also be looking to establish CampusKey Europe in time and we’ve started looking at opportunities abroad,” Howell concludes.