Q & A with Geoff Grady – The Aveo Group chief executive

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Retirement living is scaling new heights – in amenities, services and, well heights. The shift towards vertical living in inner-city suburbs is no longer the purview of hipsters alone, with The Aveo Group now getting retirees in on the action.

Why is retirement living such a hot market right now?
The market demand for retirement living is continuing to increase with Australia’s rapidly ageing population. We know that within just 30 years the market will need to be at least 2.5 times the size of what it is now to meet demand, requiring a significant shift in thinking about how Australians retire.

The Aveo Group is on its way to becoming the nation’s largest retirement village play after the acquisition of Freedom Aged Care. Do yo hope to see it grow further?
Freedom Aged Care is an exciting, care-based acquisition for The Aveo Group, and puts us in excellent stead to deliver more and better care services to our residents in the future. We are confident we will make it to the No. 1 spot after we have finished our current development pipeline of 5,500 units.

What is the concept of vertical living?
Retirement living is following the same trends as the broader residential market, where we have seen increased demand for inner-city apartments and in middle-ring suburbs, where density is increasing. Creating vertical retirement communities is the logical solution by offering retirees a modern, low-maintenance lifestyle, and with care and service offerings available in the one location.

This will be one of the first generations to retire on a sizeable superannuation nest egg. How does this change the way we need to think about retirement living? 
Our economy has been steadily growing, which puts retirees in a better financial position than former generations to be discerning about where and how they live, and the amenities and care services they want.

You’ve snagged a site at the hipster suburb of Newstead. With such a young demographic, why introduce a retirement tower to the area?

We’re aware that the Newstead area appeals to young couples, families and down-sizers alike. Aveo previously had ownership of most of the Newstead Gasworks area, and we built the Gasworks retail and commercial centre, restored the Gasometer, and have now incorporated the Aveo Newstead integrated retirement community into the complex, which will offer a full suite of care services.

What makes your business different?
We are the only retirement specific company in the ASX200 with this focus allowing us to evolve as Australia’s leading innovator in retirement living and care. We believe we’re at the forefront of retirement innovation.

You announced that you will buy back homes once residents vacate. Why is this such a concern for retirees? 
We know that Australians want certainty so they can plan for their future, so we developed the Aveo Way guarantee, with a promise to buy back unsold units within a 12-month period. This is a unique offering in the retirement living market and one that we’re proud of.

There is a huge ageing population globally. Where do you look for inspiration and guidance as to what the next step will be for your business?
We look all around the world for best practice in retirement living but in many ways, Australia is leading the charge. Vertical living is part of a global shift in the way retirees want to live, while we can similarly look to the Netherlands for inspiration in dementia care and New Zealand for their great practice. However, I’m pleased to say that Australia is at the cutting edge of retirement living and retirees care around the world.

What is your view on concerns about an oversupply of inner-city apartments?
I don’t see a major concern. The market was undersupplied for many years and it will continue to go in cycles of undersupply and oversupply, and I expect southeast Queensland will have solid growth in residential demand over the medium term.

What are your hobbies?
Reading and pottering around my hobby farm in the Gold Coast hinterland.

What’s your career background? 
I joined Aveo in early 2009 as the chief operating offer before taking on the role of chief executive in 2013. Previously I worked as the chief executive at Mulpha Sanctuary Cove and was a partner at KPMG.

This article appeared in the Brisbane Courier Mail on 26 August.

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