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A great day at the office

A thriving economy fuels the demand for well-designed office space, says Alex Montanaro, Exalco Group managing director.

Malta is successfully attracting foreign direct investment. What spillover effect is this having on sectors such as real estate?

Foreign direct investment has resulted in the leasing of office space and residential homes to foreigners, who have felt welcomed here and who have found Malta to be a pleasant and stable place to work from and live in. In some cases, foreign nationals are also buying real estate. The more we attract foreign direct investment, the more Malta’s economy thrives.

Exalco Group was a pioneer in developing purpose-built office space. When you built your first office space, what were the indicators that this market would enjoy significant growth?

To be perfectly frank, I saw it coming. There were obvious indicators that Malta was slowly but surely consolidating itself as a tourism and business hub. In fact, Malta is frequently compared to a Singapore in the Mediterranean. With a thriving economy, it naturally follows that the market demands modern, purpose-built office space. Exalco Group started off with Parklane Business Centre, which was the first open plan office block.

Alex MontanaroAlex Montanaro

Have you experienced growth in the demand for office space in recent years?

We have experienced rapid growth in demand for office space. However to sustain this growth and encourage even further growth, Malta must continue to attract foreign investment – otherwise the bubble might burst. As a country, we must continue to improve and embrace quality so that we continue to attract investment to Malta.

Apart from location and space, what elements are required for an efficient business centre?

An efficient business centre must be well organised and enjoy an attractive and practical location. A business centre must also have modern amenities, safety features and pleasant working environments.

Exalco Group operates four business centres with a fifth one under construction. What does the property management of each entail?

We operate Parklane Business Centre, Mayfair Business Centre, Cornerstone Business Centre and Marina Business Centre. A fifth one, Golden Mile Business Centre, is currently under construction. Property management entails taking full care of the buildings with preventive maintenance measures and responding immediately when any item of equipment requires attention or repair. It’s an ongoing 24/7 process to look after the business centres properly at all times.

You are developing the new Golden Mile Business Centre in St George’s Bay. What are the elements that will make this an ideal office space for a modern company?

The Exalco Golden Mile Business Centre in St George’s Bay will be unique due to its special location. We intend to make it very appealing for modern companies to operate from.

How was your application to develop the Exalco Golden Mile Business Centre in St George’s Bay received by MEPA?

Our application for the development of the Golden Mile Business Centre was well received and supported by MEPA.

As part of the development, we are building a six-metre wide passageway that will link St George’s Bay to the Paceville area. What was once a narrow and dark alley will be transformed into a pleasant and well-lit passageway that will be open for public use. I’m sure that MEPA and other authorities will further appreciate this gesture when the passageway is completed.

Apart from offering office space, do you also offer other assistance to businesses setting up in Malta?

As part of Exalco Group, we have a company that offers corporate services and assists foreign companies to set up businesses in Malta.

Diversification is key to business success. In which other sectors does Exalco Group operate?

Exalco Group has operated in the metals business since the 1980s. We buy metals such as aluminium raw materials and store them in London Metal Exchange warehousing abroad, prior to distributing to markets in Africa. We also occasionally ship steel to Malta.

Running a business requires mental and physical energy. How do you wind down?

I enjoy cycling in the countryside and listening to music. But my great passion is football. At the age of 63, I still play seven-a-side football with a group of friends who are more or less in my age group. I’m currently nursing a knee injury but am determined to bounce back – after all, you don’t stop playing because you grow old, but you grow old because you stop playing.

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