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The eclectic allure of offices with GONE SHOPPING JAMES BOYD-PHILLIPS






2 // A Different Message ISSUE #1 | SPRING 2014 EDITORIAL Editor: Duncan Lamb


Managing Director The Completely Group

WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT BEING DIFFERENT? I guess that in life there’s good different and bad different – just ‘being different’ on its own isn’t a guarantee of anything. At Completely, we’ve always tried to take a positively different approach which is why we now have a business unlike any other. We’re a creative design agency. We provide the leading online listing platforms in the commercial property business. And we put on great events. So when it came to doing this magazine there were options as to what to focus on. You will find some stuff about us in here, but the main aim was to produce a magazine which was, er, different. We thought that if we found it interesting then hopefully you would too. And when we had done the bits about us, we went to speak to friends and contacts in the business to find out what they had to say as well. We hope you enjoy the results and find it a bit different. (Good different that is…)

ART Creative Director: Ben Parer Design: Yunus Shaikh, Andy Fleetwood, Stuart Meades, Clare Kelly Illustrations: Michele Patruno PHOTOGRAPHY Photographers: Paul Harmer, Murray Scott PRODUCTION Production Editor: Mark Bailey Colour Correction: Andy Fleetwood Printer: Hardings Print Solutions MARKETING Marketing: Glen Smallwood MECHANICAL INFORMATION Cover Paper: Heaven 42, 400 gsm Cover Treatment: 4 colour process, Foil Blocked 6056, Textured Spot UV Varnish, Perfect Bound Body Paper: Heaven 42, 250 gsm Fonts: Body text – Avenir Headlines – Aachen, Baskerville, Clarendon, Clubland, Cubano, DK Kwark, FanciSide, Huxley Vertical, Kabel, New Baskerville, Trend Apps Used: Adobe CC PROPERTY LISTING & ADVERTISING SALES Phone: 0844 6626600 Email: CREATIVE & MARKETING SERVICES Phone: 01483 238920 Email: EVENTS Phone: 01483 238924 Email: ACCOUNTS Phone: 01483 238931 Email: COVER Subject: Sam McClary (see page 10) Bike: Wilier Izoard Photographer: Paul Harmer Guest photo retoucher: Dom Millar

Completely Group, Parklands, Railton Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 9JX Phone: 01483 238 920 Email: Web: Twitter: @completelygrp VAT no.GB 770788879 Company no.4321497

COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014

Contents // 3



James Danby

James Boyd-Phillips

4 Gone shopping LaSalle Retail’s James BoydPhillips loves being in shops – and buying them

8 Brands get a chance to do “Soapbox” pitch 10 Cover Story: My other Life Sam McClary: the Estates Gazette Deputy Editor tells us all about what she does away from the office

13 Back on dry land We speak to one half of a duo who’ve just rowed the Atlantic

16 All the news that fits


Sam McClary



Dan Howie & Will North


18 The eclectic allure of offices British Land’s James Danby talks about getting the office mix right

22 Where is your website going? If your website needs new direction, read this

26 A drink with... We chat to Nick Searl of Argent at The Grain Store bar in King’s Cross

28 The listings list Matt O’Halloran on the questions you should be asking your property listings provider

Nick Hughes

Nick Searl

30 The great debate The Completely Trade, Industrial & Logistics Marketplace will be a great place to hear what occupiers want

32 What does excellent marketing look like? Dom Millar on what it takes to get it right

34 A well travelled man SEGRO’s Nick Hughes has seen property marketing from all sides and thinks now’s the time for change

38 Portfolio 39 The Secret Agent Our mole reports from deep inside a well-known property agency

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4 // Interview

Words by Duncan Lamb Photography by Paul Harmer

GONE SHOPPING LaSalle Investment Management has about £1.5bn to put into property. This is on top of the £8.5bn it currently manages. We talked to James Boyd-Phillips, the head of LaSalle Retail, about what might end up in his shopping basket.

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James Boyd-Phillips believes in attention to detail even if it means racking up mileage – and sometimes cutting into your free time. “How can you judge whether or not to buy a shopping centre in Rochdale if you only see it on a cold and dreary weekday?” he asks. “You’ve got to go on a Saturday morning when it’s busy, when everyone else is not working and enjoy it and see how they spend their time. I’m not saying I do it every weekend but I must admit that wherever I go, I do tend to pop into the local shopping area and have a bit of a look round. Certainly when I’m on holiday or abroad, I always want to see what the local shopping attractions are. I just love going around looking at new shops.”

I just love going around looking at new shops Not everyone in the retail property business shares his enthusiasm. He is puzzled by this as he sees engaging with the business of retailing as essential to effective property investment into the sector. His relationship with retailing began when he joined the shop agent, Edward Erdman, in 1992. From there he joined Homebase before moving across to its parent company, Sainsbury’s. After a five-year stint with the supermarket giant, his career went on to encompass Grantchester and LXB, before he was poached by Capital & Regional where he eventually took on the role of Investment Director at the Junction. This brings the story up to 2008 when, having completed approaching 20 years in the retail property business, he COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014

6 // Interview

decided he wanted to step away and do a Masters degree at Cambridge University. What did his friends in the business say? “I suppose in a way, they always knew I liked to read the academic books, the harder books. And the Masters gave me the chance to do that.” “The biggest thing I got from the course was the ability to take a huge amount of information and condense it down into the salient points – in just 24 hours. When you come back into the working world and everyone’s throwing information at you, having that ability is very useful.” Having completed his MPhil in Real Estate Finance, he joined LaSalle Investment Management in 2010 as an Assistant Fund Manager and immediately felt at home.

“I think it’s one of the most liquid assets: it’s certainly easier to sell a retail park than it is a shopping centre because you’ve got fewer leases and less non-recoverable costs. And generally, it’s a fairly simple construction so you don’t tend to have much obsolescence anyway, so it’s quite easy to price and quite easy to trade. “So we came back in and bought about half a dozen or so assets, like Eastgate in Bristol, Silverlink in Newcastle plus parks in Yeovil and Harlow. They all had pretty unprecedented yields of between 7 and 10%.” The strategy was backed by more than gut instinct. LaSalle produced a research paper called ‘When to catch the knife’ which looked at property sectors on a ‘mean-reverting basis’ where you analyse trading at the bottom and top of the market and see how that compares to the historic IPD data. This made a statistical case for taking a plunge on investment but LaSalle’s fund clients still had to be persuaded. “Convincing clients, particularly when we’ve got a couple of pension funds that are banks was quite interesting. It was a bit before my time in terms of getting the money over the line, but we provided a good case and the rest is history. The assets purchased then have generally delivered returns of 30-40%.”

“Because something looks cheap, it doesn’t make it a bargain”

“I would say it’s very friendly, it’s very much a family. I’d only been here about three months when I went to a directors conference in Los Angeles. I was in a meeting with probably 30-40 other directors and the global CFO walked all the way round the table and said ‘Hi, I’m Kim, you must be new as I haven’t seen you before’ and I thought ‘That’s not bad is it?’” Last April, he was made Head of Retail with a sizeable team and money to spend. “As a house we’ve got around £1.5bn to put into property at the moment which bearing in mind that we currently manage about £8.5bn of UK assets, represents a potentially huge influx of capital.” LaSalle was one of the first investment houses to come back into the market when the recession was still in full swing and has benefited particularly from a focus on retail parks. “We were one of two or three funds that came back into the market early. We spotted that retail had been mispriced during the downturn – in particular out-of-town retail warehousing.

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As the economy recovers and optimism creeps back into the market, there is a good deal more confidence in the investment sector. However, BoydPhillips points out that this transitional phase of the market can be one of the most hazardous times to buy. “Because something looks cheap, it doesn’t make it a bargain. Take the example of shopping centres. They need an inordinate amount of effort to keep that income flow going and what I say to the team – this has been my mantra from the beginning – ‘This is not a property you’re dealing with, it’s a business’. “If you’re buying a secondary shopping centre it’s a cash business. It’s all about the operating income from the scheme. Valuations are almost irrelevant because you need to maintain and improve that operating income.

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SHOPPING CENTRES42 RETAIL PARKS6 OUT OF TOWN UNITS45 SUPERMARKETS21 HIGH STREET115 TOTAL VALUE “There’s no point in looking at rental tones on these schemes in the short term. You look at the cash contribution a letting can make and if that suits your cash strategy, you proceed. “These are not assets to buy on a high yield and tuck away. They need intensive management and expertise. Short-term it’s probably going to be very unpleasant. If you’re buying from a distressed vendor the chances are they haven’t had the money to spend on maintaining the mall, refurbishing, improving signage etc, so there’s going to be a lot to do.” He emphasises that income is what LaSalle’s clients want. “They don’t want lumpy valuations, but at the same time if you can maintain the income then you’ve got a far better asset in the medium term. “We’ve been very fortunate that where there’s been a lack of any other institutional interest and being cash purchasers, we’ve been able to pick up some good assets on the right basis i.e. deduct vacant units etc. and buy it on a pure net operating income basis. If you can maintain the income, everything else should fall into place.” Inevitably, the conversation turns to the effect of the internet on retailing but Boyd-Phillips takes an uncomplicated approach to it. “How does it affect us as property folk? Well it’s simple really, we have to embrace the operators’ requirements, and we’ve got to be flexible. We’ve got to be flexible in terms of lease; we’ve got to the flexible in terms of size of units. Flexible, affordable and accessible.

C. £500M

“With click-and-collect, accessibility is going to be key. If you’re in competition with an out-of-town location which has 24/7 access, you’ve got to have a strategy. If you’ve got a shopping centre where you’ve got a decked car park, you’ve got to keep it open longer and look at ways of making it cheaper so it can compete.” However, he feels that the perceived threat of the internet masks the simple truth that as a country we are over-shopped. “There are just too many shops. There are too many parochial owners and local authorities who will say it’s the fault of out-of-town, it’s the supermarket’s fault, or it’s the internet’s fault. It’s like how retailers use the excuse of the weather. “We blame it on something else when actually you just need to say that there are too many shops. In any other market you would demolish them or try to do something in them. Ultimately, you have to create an experience – something that people want and can’t get on the internet. He is positive about 2014 but believes investors will have to roll up their sleeves if they are going to be successful. He does feel concerned that the weight of money for UK real estate is front running the prices of many assets, particularly retail. “Be bold. Don’t feel worried about doing something different. Retailing has to be refreshed. Try pop-ups, put market traders into shops. Take the rent that you get and be glad you’re not paying the rates. Help your occupiers. “You have to give ideas a chance – and always keep your eye on the income and competition.” COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014

8 // Soapbox

â–˛ Brandon Stephens of Tortilla on the Soapbox, outside Old Billingsgate Market on the terrace

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The Soapbox sessions at the Completely Retail & Leisure Marketplace will provide a great perspective on the type of occupiers who are actively looking for space.


This year’s Completely Retail & Leisure Marketplace will give new, emerging and expanding brands the chance to pitch their business concept to the property world in just three minutes.

Rebecca Sawyer comments: “This is our fourth marketplace and people know that it is a no-nonsense, focused opportunity to meet with people from across the retail and leisure sectors and get business done.

The ‘Soapbox’ sessions are aiming to showcase retail and leisure brands that are actively searching for new representation throughout the UK.

“The new venue will give us increased space and facilities, while Soapbox sessions will provide a great perspective on the type of occupiers who are out there actively looking for space.”

Rebecca Sawyer of Completely explains: “We’re looking for around 20 emerging brands to give a threeminute presentation about their business and ideal property requirements. “We estimate as many as 200 landlords and agents will be in the Soapbox room, with most of the major retail destinations represented, so it’s a great opportunity to reach a lot of the right people in a short space of time.” Completely Retail & Leisure Marketplace is now the leading UK event for professionals from all parts of the market to come and do business. At the previous event in September last year, there were 1,300 registered delegates, 400 retailers and all exhibition stands were sold out.

Brandon Stephens of Tortilla is looking forward to his threeminute slot on the Soapbox. “I must’ve pitched the business about a 100 times so I’m happy to have this opportunity. However, having people in the audience that I know is going to be unusual – you’re usually doing it cold to relative strangers”. Originally from San Francisco, Brandon and his wife Jen started Tortilla in 2007 after “a fouryear search across London for decent burritos and tacos”.

Date: April 29th and September 30th Venue: Old Billingsgate Market, London EC3 Who should attend: Retailers/ developers/investors/agents Details: Rebecca Sawyer 08430 227333

The Brits have embraced burritos: with 15 restaurants already trading, Tortilla has a new outlet in Watford due to open shortly, and has plans to open a further 10 across the UK in the next 12 months. Expect a hunger-making presentation as Brandon’s slides showcase delights such as the barbacoa burrito with shredded Scottish beef braised in an adobo sauce…

Owing to the success of the previous events, this year’s April and September marketplaces are taking place in the Old Billingsgate Market building on Lower Thames Street.

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10 // My Other Life



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Samantha McClary’s business card tells you that she’s Deputy Editor of Estates Gazette. What it doesn’t say is that her prowess at cycling and running has made her an international standard duathlete who competes at the highest level. She is also now planning a running and cycling challenge which, in her words, she must be a ‘nutter’ to consider. Sam McClary came to serious cycling relatively late. The 35 year-old first started ‘properly’ about six years ago. She explains: “I’d always wanted to cycle to Paris and one day just signed up to a charity ride, bought a bike – which at £750, I thought was ridiculously expensive – and rode the event. “I loved it. After that I got involved with the Cycle to MIPIM and through that met Lil Houghton, who’s at Carter Jonas, and instantly clicked with her. She introduced me to a startup triathlon club and it all kind of escalated from there.” Fast forward to last year when she came sixth in her age group at the Duathlon World Championships in Ottawa. Duathlons are run-cycle-run events which usually see the competitors running 10km then cycling 40km and finishing off with another 5km run. “My goal last year was to break into the top 10 in my age group in the duathlon world rankings and it was very satisfying to achieve sixth – 10 places higher than in 2012.”

My goal last year was to break into the top 10 in my age group in the duathlon world rankings and it was very satisfying to achieve sixth That kind of achievement requires commitment and not surprisingly training is the envelope that contains the rest of her life. “I tend to cycle 40 minutes each way to and from work. I’ll spend about an hour in the gym before work and about the same in the evening. I teach a couple of spin classes during the week and will tend to get in a long run and/or ride at the weekend. “I have a great strength and conditioning coach who makes sure I also work on being strong and stable as well as fast!”

Although she has competed successfully in triathlons, she rates herself a “terribly poor” swimmer.

▲ Sam McClary: “I’d always wanted to cycle to Paris.”

“I call myself a vertical swimmer as my legs drag so badly. It’s where I could make the greatest improvement, but I struggle to get motivated with swimming. I find very little joy in it. “My cycling is average. I’ve got a good endurance engine and the odd spurt of power but need to work on my speed more. Running is my best of the three disciplines. I’ve definitely upped my game with my running strength and speed over the last two years.” Like most serious athletes, McClary always talks about goals not dreams. This year will see a change in focus for those goals. “I’ve pre-qualified for May’s duathlon world championships in Spain, but don’t expect to do quite so well given my change of focus.” That change will see her focus on events involving even greater endurance. In addition to the Cycle to MIPIM and doing the London marathon, she will be doing an ‘ultra challenge’ of her own devising. In October she will embark on an odyssey through Scotland and England which was launched under the nicely self-deprecating title: 1100 miles, 15 days, 13 cities, 1 nutter. “The ‘challenge’ will see me run and cycle around 1,100 miles, visiting 13 cities in the UK in 15 days.” Any leg of the trip which is less than 50 miles she will run, and anything over that distance she’ll cycle. The challenge begins on October 1st when she departs Edinburgh

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12 // My Other Life

▲ “Anything that gets people moving and thinking a little bit more about their health and fitness can only be a positive.”

on the 43-mile run to Glasgow. In addition to completing this remarkable journey, she is also trying to raise as much money as possible for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. The challenge will undoubtedly attract great interest and support from the property business where cycling is probably now the most popular recreational sport. McClary is delighted about how the business of her ‘day job’ has embraced her great passion. “It’s great – especially as I get to take part in a lot of the events in the course of ‘work’. Property can be a pretty unhealthy industry with lots of boozy lunches so anything that gets people moving and thinking a little bit more about their health and fitness can only be a positive.” Cycling and triathlons are essentially ‘democratic’ pursuits where, more often than not, people are either doing it just for the pure enjoyment of it or are trying to improve their personal best rather than competing with the person alongside them. McClary retains a sense of proportion about the sport she loves. “I think all sport should be fun. Yes, you take it seriously when you compete but let’s remember that

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I’m just an amateur and overall it doesn’t matter whether I win or lose. It’s about whether I’ve done my best. “Success is extremely personal. For me it’s about being better than I was before or at least the best that I can be in the given situation. Medals are great but they are just bits of metal. The greatest prize I could ever get is someone seeing what I do or hearing about it and getting inspired to give it a go themselves.” In terms of who has inspired McClary, she does not have a single hero but takes inspiration from various sources. “Paula Radcliffe and Kelly Holmes were great inspirations to me, mainly due to their determination. I think sportswomen such as Jess Ennis, Katarina Johnson Thompson, Vicky Pendleton, and Laura Trott are all great role models for young women today. “My teammates and competitors are my heroes too. They inspire me to push harder. “How far you can push yourself? It’s always further than you think and the feeling you get when you achieve that is priceless.” Dedicated, driven, focused? Yes. A “nutter”? Definitely not.

If you’d like to sponsor Sam on her ‘1100 miles, 15 days, 13 cities’ Challenge, please go to or email for corporate sponsorship opportunities.

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Photography by Ben Duffy



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14 // Back on Dry Land

“When things started breaking and we went through a huge storm in the first week... the reality of what lay ahead really kicked in” When you look at it on paper, what Dan Howie and Will North took on doesn’t look humanly possible: a 24-hour-a-day rowing schedule with the duo each completing alternate two-hour shifts until the 3,000 mile course, from the Canary Islands to Antigua, was completed. And it’s not exactly like rowing in the gym: 50ft waves, sharing major shipping lanes, capsizing, physical exhaustion, salt sores and – curiously – a lack of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs all proved to be major challenges along the way. Just under two months on, Dan Howie who works for out of town retail specialist Edgerley Simpson Howe, says the race already feels “like a distant dream – or nightmare!”. But the satisfaction of completing the challenge – and winning the pairs category – is evident. “It was amazing to win the pairs as that is exactly what we set out to do. “We always set out to be competitive and that got us back on the oars at the end of each break. There were seven teams in the pair’s category. About four or five of them were really gunning for the win. It was tough going which is exactly what we expected it to be like, then when things started breaking and we went through a huge storm in the first week, that started pushing us back to the start line, the reality of what lay ahead really kicked in.” Their competitive spirit was tested especially when the boat capsized for the second time. “There was about 10 minutes where I thought ‘I want to get off this boat now, this is really dangerous’, especially COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014

when we heard one of our competitors had been rescued by a cargo ship. “But I always thought we’d finish the race unless we had an issue with a part of the boat like the rudder breaking or something like that. Even then we said ‘We’ll get out and swim, we’ll push the boat if we have to!’ We were both pretty determined to get to the finish no matter what it took.” Thanks to a satellite phone and the wonder of social media, supporters of the pair were able to follow their progress across the Atlantic. Twitter has its detractors, but it certainly can bring you to the heart of the action in situations like this. The guys’ Twitter followers heard about storms, whales, rainbows and surreally, on January 20th, an impassioned plea for Cadbury’s Mini Eggs. Watchers were reassured when it turned out to be a random craving rather than mental disintegration. When the challenge was over and the duo was reunited with friends and family in Antigua, Dan crowned a remarkable two months by proposing to his girlfriend Jo. The ring had not made the Atlantic crossing. “It was far too risky taking it with me on the row – one capsize and it could easily be lost – so my mum brought it out when they all came to meet us. Jo and I hardly had any time to ourselves for the first few days. About the fourth day we decided to go for a walk to a secluded beach: that was when I popped the question!” Back in the UK, Dan’s quick to emphasise the importance of the other side of the challenge

– the money that has been raised for Cancer Research, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, and the Ghanaian children’s charity, St Anna’s. At the time of writing, the duo had raised just under £120,000 for these charities and if you admire what they achieved the best acknowledgment is to go to, search ‘Sponsor your friend’ type in ‘Dan Howie’ and make a donation. And has this achievement given Dan a taste for another challenge? “Yes, but probably not for a very long time, and probably not something that takes two and a half years to prepare! “Maybe something smaller which you can bash out in a day. Nothing that’s going to take up that much time again. “It’s just fantastic to have so much free time now. ‘The Row’ is over and I don’t have to worry about the watermaker breaking, the rudder, oars snapping, storms, whales, shipping etc etc. “It’s great to be back and to now appreciate the smaller things in life. It’s just incredible to have running water and a soft bed to sleep in’.

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San Sebastian La Gomera Dec 4 Dec 10 ▲ ▲ ▲ Dec 7

Dec 25 ▲


Jan 27

The West Indies

Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour Antigua Jan 21 ▲▲ ▲▲ Jan 20 Jan 26

Dec 18 ▲


Jan 8 ▲

Atlantic Ocean South America ▲▲ December 18 Rowing alongside dolphins and 20ft waves – life on the Atlantic Ocean AFTER the storm ▲▲ December 25 A message from Dan and Will on this special day – Happy Christmas everyone!

▲▲ January 26 Are we there yet? Not yet! But we only have two nautical miles left Our official time for crossing the Atlantic Ocean was 53 days, 9 hours, 30 minutes and 4 seconds

▲▲ January 8 We’ve passed our next target. We have less than 1,000 nautical miles until Antigua. Bring it on! ▲ Simon North says a tearful goodbye to son Will.

▲▲ December 3 It’s official! Race start is confirmed for 1pm on Wednesday 4th December! Now heading to bed for the last time before the challenge

▲▲ January 20 @Cadbury UK We have a real craving for Mini Eggs. It’s such a shame you don’t sell them in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean ▲▲ January 21 We’re currently being followed by a pod of whales

▲▲ December 7 A rainbow out in the Atlantic – we’re taking this as a sign of good times ahead!

▲▲ January 27 Switched phone on after 53 days and greeted with 750 emails. Amazing thing is that most are donation notifications!!

▲▲ December 10 Over the last two and a half days we haven’t been rowing. We’re currently waiting for a storm to pass

▲▲ February 17 First day back at work after 3 months of awesomeness!! Missing those rum punches more than ever now…

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16 // Keeping it Brief

OK, we’re about half way through the magazine so here’s the commercial break: a brief update on what we’ve been up to recently at The Completely Group…

Getting an award…

The Completely Group’s work on the Completely Retail & Leisure Marketplace event won a silver award at the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards in the museums, galleries, events and visitor attractions category – and the dinner was pretty good too. An emotional Completely MD, Dom Millar, said: “To be rubbing shoulders with brands such as Waitrose, Twinings and the Science Museum clearly demonstrates that our talented team is producing work of the highest standard”.

©Freelance Events Photographer

▼ The Completely’s Surrey Half Marathon finishers L-R Pete Houghton, Andy Fleetwood, Jess Oakden, Wei Li, Mark Bailey and Ben Parer.

Gluttons for punishment

Who izzit?

It’s Caroline Londono who has joined The Completely Group as Head of Business Development. Previously with Property Week, Caroline and her team are busy promoting our industry events. We’re still getting used to her South African lingo and aren’t quite sure how to respond to the word ‘izzit?’ which somewhat randomly appears at the end of her sentences…

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Whatever happened to a ferocious game of shove ha’penny down the boozer? Today’s breed of Completely staff are an active bunch to say the least. Six of them successfully completed the Surrey Half marathon in March while others have plans that range from The South Downs Challenge – a gruelling 100 mile mountain bike ride – through to Chase the Sun, a 320km dash across the UK during the longest day of the year.

Got your CRMP season ticket? If you’re planning to attend or exhibit at the spring and autumn Completely Retail & Leisure Marketplaces this year, there are great ‘season ticket’ packages available. If you sign up for both events as a delegate the cost is £695 (+VAT) – a total saving of £295 plus VAT. Contact Rebecca Sawyer for details on 08430 227333 or email

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High quality CGIs produced by The Completely Group helped a landmark project successfully secure a resolution to grant planning. We were appointed by Fenwick to produce the images for the planning application for the Thames Side Wharf mixed-use scheme in Kingston upon Thames.

New portals for new sectors Following the success of our retail and industrial online listings portals, we have now launched the new and property portals. Completely Office shows available property and a complete database of business parks and office buildings throughout the UK.

Raising the BIDs

A new pilot scheme enables the Experience Guildford Business Improvement District to showcase the town’s available commercial property opportunities via the UK’s largest commercial property listings network. The joint venture provides the BID with an “available property” search function for their website. This draws relevant listings from The Completely Group’s office and retail property listing portals which attract 160,000 visits a month and have more than 25,000 registered users. The Completely Group’s Glen Smallwood commented: “Our online listings platforms provide the perfect channels to market Guildford town centre’s vacant shops and offices. This is a model we are rolling out across UK town centres throughout 2014”.

The science parks site lists units to let across the UK from leading agents and landlords, and also provides a comprehensive and free-to-view directory of all UK science park locations. Both are based on the same winning formula that has made the UK’s leading resource and research tool in the retail property sector. Paul Wright of the United Kingdom Science Parks Association comments: “UKSPA are very pleased to be supporting the Completely Group Office event this September. “Science Parks are traditionally perceived as places where people in white coats fiddle with test tubes and bunsen-burners, and we are working closely with The Completely Group to dispel that myth”.

SAVE THE DATES 29.04.2014








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18 // Interview

British Land’s Leasing Director James Danby

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THE ECLECTIC ALLURE OF OFFICES It is probably fair to say that 20 years ago you would not have heard a major property company’s leasing director using the word ‘eclectic’ to describe the tenant line-up in a newly-let development. >

> Of course, back then property companies did not even have leasing directors. But today they do and that word ‘eclectic’ was used by British Land’s James Danby when announcing the final letting at 10 Brock Street in the company’s Regent’s Place development in London.

It speaks volumes about the new attitudes to tenant mix – and the landscape of currently active occupiers in London – that ‘eclectic’ can be used positively. When Santander Asset Management signed up for 25,000 sq ft at 10 Brock Street, it completed a tenant line-up that also included digital communications group, Aegis; natural gas giant, Gazprom; retailer, Debenhams; Facebook and Manchester City Football Club. Eclectic, indeed. Danby observes: “You’ve got seven different business sectors who have taken space at Regent’s Place in the last four years: it is an eclectic mix. There aren’t many locations in London where a collection of buildings in a small area can foster that kind of variety”.

Not bad for a development whose biggest challenge initially was getting the world to understand exactly where it was.

completely disorientated, especially if they’re not a Londoner. So it’s very obvious – but important – to emphasise the location in the first instance”.

“If you talk to someone about Paddington, or King’s Cross or Waterloo or even generic areas like the South Bank, they know where you mean,” says Danby.

Regent’s Place – a 13-acre mixed-use scheme of offices, shops, restaurants, bars, and residential – is now firmly on the map in every sense (just ask a cabbie), and Danby is now beginning to see the fruits of that painstaking placemaking process.

“But Regent’s Place doesn’t benefit from being on top of a mainline station, so the biggest challenge that we’ve had is getting public perception aligned with the location. You have to take time to explain it to people. Once you do, it’s very quickly evident that it’s fantastically well located in terms of connectivity.” It sounds like a basic point but it is at the heart of the ‘placemaking process’ on which the office sector is so focused at present. Danby explains: “What you tend to find when people come on viewing tours is that they’ll probably be escorted by an agent, and if they’re in a taxi or car between properties then they’re probably chatting rather than registering where they actually are. So when they arrive they’re often

“We had an occupier who ended up taking space last year who when they first came for a viewing suddenly looked quizzical and said: ‘Do you have a food market here?’. It transpired that lots of their staff had been coming to the Thursday food market for the past 3-4 years and she’d just made the connection. “It’s a good example of how people see environments in different contexts: her staff saw food market not major office development, but it was great in this instance because straight away there was a personal connection so when it came to selling the location to their staff they were completely onside because they’d already ‘discovered’ it.” >

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20 // Interview

televising of Wimbledon, fitness events (‘City chicks get fit’ was on the programme at the time of writing), and book fairs among others. This level of activity takes commitment – and resource. Danby says that at no time – even during the recession – was British Land prepared to compromise on either the quality of the buildings or the place-making process. “We started the first phase – 10 & 20 Triton Street – at the beginning of 2007; then there was Lehman’s and the world had changed. Changing tack on a development is a bit like trying to stop an oil tanker, so we were committed but even so took the decision to not start value-engineering the project. “We didn’t cut back on the landscaping, we didn’t lower the spec, we didn’t water down the management vision. We focused our energies on our little bit of London and made sure it was the best it could possibly be.

“That human factor is what makes the spaces live”

With so much new London office development competing for occupiers, it is vital to find something that makes you different 

>  The different contexts of an office campus environment is something that British Land has worked on constantly. “The old adage is that ‘architects create spaces, but people create places’. It’s so true. We can create spaces with our architects and intelligent design, but ultimately it comes down to the people who inhabit those spaces to bring them alive. That human factor is what makes the spaces live and breathe. And it’s something that’s never complete: you’ve got to keep re-inventing; you’ve got to keep the place interesting and innovative.” With so much new London office development competing for occupiers, it is vital to find something that makes you different. At Regent’s Place, Danby uses the example of the New Diorama Theatre which opened in Regent’s Place in 2010. “It’s only an 80-seat theatre, but in its first two years it welcomed close to 30,000 people to theatre productions, readings and other events. The theatre has about 15,000 Twitter followers and has won numerous high-profile awards. That’s a tremendous benefit for us; to have people coming to Regent’s Place and discovering it.” The vitality of the development is further enhanced by a constant programme of events: the regular foodmarket, open-air

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“That paid dividends because we got some traction with occupiers like Aegis and Gazprom, and then the rest of it all flowed very quickly thereafter. That gave us confidence that, yes, we were doing the right thing, and that meant we could crack on with a further 500,000 sq ft at Brock Street which was finished last summer and fully let three months after completion.” With in-house leasing directors being very much de rigeur at property companies these days, is the writing on the wall for agents? Danby thinks not. “Agents remain an absolutely essential part of the process. For a start, they are very much the gatekeepers to the occupiers. An occupier will probably pick up the phone to their agent or their advisor before they would pick up the phone to us. And even if they do call us first, invariably they will then bring in an agent to provide them with market advice. “And from a British Land leasing perspective, agents are a vital part in the messaging process. There’s only one of me, but we’ve had, collectively, probably 15 individuals along the way working on the Regent’s Place buildings. So that’s 15 people out there talking to the market and conveying the messages about what we’ve got and what we’re doing. They’re our eyes and ears in the market and are absolutely crucial in that respect.”

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With Regent’s Place moving from the leasing stage to the active management, Danby’s attention is now increasingly on Paddington Central – the office campus that British Land bought for £450m last year. The mixed-use development occupies an 11-acre site next to Paddington station. It currently comprises eight separate modern buildings totalling 1.2m sq ft, but there are further development opportunities on-site which could add a further 400,000 sq ft of space. Having once been the preferred location for occupiers who wanted large-scale modern offices with good links to Heathrow and rents that substantially undercut the West End, the shine has somewhat gone off the Paddington office market in recent years. It faces more competition from other emergent locations, but Danby – while not underestimating the challenge at Paddington – sees the current market landscape as an opportunity. “Rental profile has always been a factor at Paddington. If you go back to before the crash, Paddington Central could command higher rents than Regent’s Place because it was shiny and new and Regent’s Place hadn’t undergone the evolution that it has done now. However, that always seemed a bit illogical to me seeing that Regent’s Place is so much closer to the heart of the West End. “Fast forward to today and what you’ll see is that Paddington has suffered a bit from

the emergence of other sub-markets: the repositioning of Regent’s Place, King’s Cross and also the Southbank. However, with rents at Regent’s Place hitting £70 per sq ft and £65 per sq ft rumoured to have been achieved at King’s Cross, Paddington is now, for the first time in a long time, looking more competitive in terms of rent. So we see that very much as an opportunity.

place at all points of the London compass, the central question is who will occupy all this space? Last year, was all about the fast-growing TMT companies that seemed to be behind just about every deal of magnitude. Danby does not believe the TMT phenomena has run its course but thinks it is necessary to take a more analytic approach to where demand is coming from.

“Supply remains very tight in the West End. We know there are a lot of businesses that want to be on single floors so Paddington Central’s ability to provide bigger floors, and more flexible office buildings, is also an attractive proposition.”

“When we talk about the ‘TMT sector’, it’s easy to forget how diverse it is. It’s not one sector, it’s three and they’re all interlinked with other business sectors because all business today is reliant on technology. The way we work with technology compared to 10-15 years ago is very, very different so on a macro-level, yes, the TMT sector and its demand for offices is definitely here to stay.

Price is not the only factor that Danby cites as a driver behind the Paddington market: the advent of Crossrail will transform links with the West End and a new entrance to Paddington tube station literally on the doorstep of BL’s estate will improve connectivity hugely. Major improvements to the public realm on the estate and the reinvigoration of its environment generally are also planned. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to take our knowledge and skill-set and apply that to the existing estate and the new buildings that will be created in the next phase of development. “So you mix all that together and it does feel like we’re in a good position to create something really quite special.” With major office developments taking

“I think people will look back at 2013 and be reminded of what a fundamental shift there was during the year with TMTs going from being a very acquisitive sector, to being the most acquisitive sector. It’s incredible to think that in 1998 Google had only eight employees worldwide – by 2018 they could well have around 10,000 workers in King’s Cross alone. “It will certainly be interesting to see whether 2014 witnesses a similar level of TMT activity. It could do, but I suspect that it might slow down a little bit, however I do think that 2014 is going to be a year for businesses in other sectors to catch-up, upsize and upgrade as the economy continues to grow.”

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22 // Online Update

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Illustrations by Michele Patruno

25 years ago a software engineer wrote a paper entitled, Information Management: A Proposal. The engineer was Tim Berners-Lee and his paper conceptualised what we now know as the worldwide web. His reward was immortality and a knighthood. Here, some of Completely’s online gurus look at three aspects of website design that you should be aware of.

Getting the right response


New Media Manager, The Completely Group

Once upon a time, websites were only viewed on the screens of desktop PCs or Macs. Then came the laptop, the Mac book, and the tablet, while the mobile handset was reinvented in many different guises. As the devices that you can view websites on have proliferated, the challenge has grown to create sites that display and work equally well no matter what you’re using to browse them. In terms of how this impacts the design of a site, responsiveness is the key factor. The central point of a website is to get the salient information to the user as quickly and cleanly as possible, whatever the device.

Screen sizes are constantly changing, websites need to accommodate them all. Not everything is getting smaller. With the ‘4K’ generation of high definition screens just around the corner, websites have to be viewable via TVs and very large monitors as well as small hand-held devices.

Before any code is even contemplated for a new site, the proposed architecture should take into account how the site will be viewed. This demands both a technical and a visual design response. From a design perspective, the experience should be welcoming; the website’s identity, navigation and content needs to be familiar and easy to use on all viewing platforms.

Accordingly, it’s no good optimising a website just for the iPhone in your pocket or having three fixed layouts that are compromises. ‘Breakpoints’ – the screen sizes at which a website changes layout – should be few and minimal, so that a consistent user experience is maintained. Sometimes we even need to consider mobile view as the starting point of our designs. Rather than crippling a design as it shrinks down, we should be enhancing it as it grows.

Mobile is the fastest growing platform for viewing websites. It’s not that we’re reducing our viewing through desktop browsers, but more and more we’re all using the small touch-screens on our phones or tablets to view the web on the move or simply because it’s easier to pick up an iPad than a laptop.

Good responsive design isn’t about spending time chasing each and every screen size or shape, it’s about designing and building an adaptive, responsive, intuitive system, right from the start.

Factoring in the responsiveness of a website’s design should be the touchstone for its development. Today, you don’t know who, how or at what size someone is going to be viewing your content, responsive design means it looks great regardless.

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24 // Online Update

Improving the user experience User interface (UI) is the layer that provides interaction between you and the website you are browsing. It’s like a translator who listens to commands – in the form of key presses, mouse clicks, finger swipes etc – and relays that input to the web browser: provoking a response of some sort. That response may be a new window opening, the next photo in a slideshow or a fully expanded drop-down menu. The user interface communicates our instruction and retrieves the data relevant to that request.

Developer The Completely Group

Users like consistency. They need to know that once they learn to do something on a site, they will be able to do it again. Language, layout, and design are just a few interface elements that need consistency. A consistent interface enables your users to have a better understanding of how things will work, and increases the user’s efficiency when on the site.

colour, and placement of each element need to work together. Coherence on the page will greatly assist the user.

The user interface should be designed in a way that allows the user to focus on what is most important. The size,

A good user interface is beautiful, simple and unobtrusive. Users won’t notice it, they’ll simply enjoy using your website.

So facilitating that exchange is an integral part of web design. When executed properly, it can provide an enjoyable experience for the user. When implemented badly, the experience can be frustrating and challenging. The chances are if a user can’t access the information they are after quickly and easily, they will stop using the website altogether. As a consequence, the delivery of the user interface is inextricably linked to the user experience so it’s important to invest sufficient time in both the design and development process. With the advent of touch screen smart phones and tablets, web UI design has evolved and diversified more than ever before. Coupled with the latest web standards, user experience has never been as rich or intuitive. A large part of getting the user interface right is seeing what your users want, how they use websites and translating that into the user interface. It’s more about learning from your audience than imposing a structure.

A good user interface is beautiful, simple and unobtrusive. COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014


Throughout the process, the touchstone of what you’re developing should be ‘does the user really need this?’. There’s no point in adding bells and whistles if they’re not wanted.

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Flat colour design is crisp simplicity and subtlety


The world is (getting) flat

Creative Director The Completely Group

The website world is getting flat. You may have noticed an increasing number of sites using bold block colour in a purely two-dimensional format. This is not just a fashion; it’s the manifestation of new thinking on how design can optimise a website’s performance. The new approach is often called ‘flat colour design’ (FCD). It isn’t the solution for every site, but can deliver significant benefits in the right situation. FCD has gained popularity because of the simplicity and flexibility it offers. The name is derived from the two-dimensional shapes used in the style that are simply flat. When a site is trying to achieve an optimised responsiveness to the user, the use of flat colour design is often the way forward.

subtlety, utilising light shadows and edge effects suggesting interactivity. The aim of the design is on neutrality coupled with keeping the focus firmly on the content. With smaller screens of mobile devices, the fewer buttons and a less detailed design make a flat interface easy to use.

As website design became more sophisticated, we saw the rise of skeuomorphic design where the design of web elements mimics real 3D objects. So your home page might look like an old radio, a car dashboard or a chest of drawers. Elements can have visual depth and animation.

Simple shape elements like circles, squares, hexagons are employed with space for making them easy to tap. Simple styling is coupled with vibrant and bold colour choices particularly for buttons. Retro colours are particularly popular.

FCD is the counterpoint to skeuomorphism. The basis of FCD is crisp simplicity and

Typography choices are critical for setting the tone for a website in

the simple settings of flat design eschewing embellishments. Simple elements doesn’t mean simple design, FCD requires just as much design application as any other type of design scheme. It may not be appropriate for every web environment but where the intention is to create a highly responsive and very straightforward web platform, FCD can be the best design route. It’s adaptive and focuses on content. Combine it with responsive design and a good user interface and you’ve got a slick modern website.

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26 // A Drink with

NICK SEARL After weeks of winter rain, the sun came out and once again you could enjoy London outdoors. We sent Dom Millar to one of the capital’s newest open spaces – Granary Square at King’s Cross – for a drink with Nick Searl of Argent. Nick leads the commercial team at the huge King’s Cross development, and primarily deals with the strategy, leasing and management of the office and retail components. Having enjoyed some sunshine in the square, the two headed into The Grain Store for a drink and a chat… What are you having, Nick? Anything other than whisky – it’s the work of the devil. Preferably a very cold glass of crisp Alborino white from north west Spain, thanks. How was 2013? Astonishing. It was the first year of our newly formed Argent LLP, we moved offices to King’s Cross and the business grew substantially. We announced the Airport City development in Manchester and the Paradise Circus project in Birmingham. And it felt like King’s Cross really came of age. Starting with the Google deal in January we signed five major office deals during the year, and successfully pre-let the whole of our first spec office building before construction was complete. This is now also a place to live and play: we’ve had hugely successful residential sales, while the restaurants and public events are attracting huge visitor numbers. COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014

CRISPS OR NUTS? Both, of course. Always keep your options open.

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What’s new at King’s Cross?

What’s the toughest part of your job?

Well we’re on site with two more residential buildings, we’re building a primary school, we’ll be starting construction of two – possibly three – new office buildings and we’ll be converting the Victorian Midland Goods Shed and East Handyside Canopy into a new home for Waitrose. They’re opening a cookery school alongside their supermarket.

Probably the hours. It’s definitely not 9-5. But I work with an extraordinary group of people at Argent and we work on some extraordinary developments. So it’s well worth it.

We’ll also be opening Pancras Square, Cubitt Square and Cubitt Park: all major new public spaces for London. And there will be another six new cafés and restaurants to serve the 6,000-plus office workers we expect to be here by early 2015. This year it’s all about maintaining momentum and providing a great experience for our tenants, owners and visitors.

What makes it all worthwhile? Every morning I walk through Granary Square, and the hair stands up on the back of my neck. That and the friends that I’ve made working at Argent definitely make it all worthwhile.

What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on at the moment? Where to start? I think two of the projects at King’s Cross stand out. Firstly, the as yet unnamed R7 office development is really interesting. We are in concept design for a building that will be geared to an audience of smaller businesses looking for more flexible leasing arrangements in a building that has a real sense of identity and community. Secondly, and possibly the most exciting element at King’s Cross, is Coal Drops Yard. The refurbishment and conversion of the magnificent Victorian coal drops sheds into around 100,000 sq ft of unique retailing destination is a real challenge. We’re gradually building a clear vision of the retailers we want to attract and the nature of the place we want to create. It’s a real one off opportunity and we’re all very excited by the challenge.

The Grain Store is the latest restaurant by Chef Bruno Loubet and The Zetter Group’s Michael Benyan and Mark Sainsbury.

The Grain Store Granary Square 1-3 Stable Street King’s Cross London N1C 4AB

Following on from the extraordinary success of Bistrot Bruno Loubet and The Zetter Townhouse, they have joined forces with pioneering drinks creator, Tony Conigliaro, to create this exciting new restaurant and bar at Granary Square in King’s Cross.

Critics have hailed Loubet’s veg-centric menu and Conigliaro’s ingenious creations. The Guardian commented: “This is sunny food… and there’s a heavy emphasis on imaginative cocktails: truffle martini, tuberose Collins. It all feels very forward-thinking, rather than rooted in the past”. The Grainstore is open daily, visit for further details.

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28 // Digital Marketing


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Marketing commercial property online is now an essential part of the leasing and selling process. There’s been a proliferation of property listing sites but how do you choose which platform is going to be most effective in reaching your audience? Matt O’Halloran suggests that a good first step is to ask the following questions…

Does your listing provider understand the market?

that properties are effectively tagged in a search engine.

Online listings may be driven by technology, but it’s vital to be working with a provider who understands your area of the property business. Their level of understanding will influence everything from the functionality of their search engine through to the way they market the listings platform.

How comprehensive are the listings on this platform?

How easily can my listing be found? Remember that most traffic will come to your listing through keyword searches (via Google, Bing etc) or as a result of the listing platform being promoted in the right places online and also having various points of access. For example, listings on Completely Retail are typically accessible via the actual listing site itself, the website of the leasing agent, the website of the propco owner and also on the Retail Week website. Having multiple points of access dramatically improves the chance of enhanced traffic. It’s also useful to be able to group all the available units on a particular scheme or development to minimise the duplication of data and maximise the user experience. Is the platform’s audience relevant? It’s no good if your listing is seen by thousands of people if none of them are actually interested in what you’re marketing. Get audience figures and breakdowns from your provider. Similarly, make sure that the platform enables you to tag your listings so that they can best reach the audience you’re looking for. Imagine if you searched for shoes online and a page of hats came up. It’s essential

to your corporate guideline. If you prefer doing deals instead of tapping away at a keyboard, choose your provider carefully.

No online platform is going to be 100% comprehensive in terms of the type of property being listed, but users do not like ‘shallow’ listing sites where they are only searching through a few dozen paid-for listings from a small cross-section of property agents.

How will my listings be promoted?

Sites with more listings attract more traffic and a bigger audience for your property.

Find out what your provider is doing to engage with your sector. Are they ‘known’ in the business and what are they doing to raise their profile.

How much content can I upload? Content is king. Don’t skimp on online property information and invest a bit of time entering all the important property details into search-engine-friendly text fields. Not only will it make the listing more engaging to users, it will be more likely to rank highly on search engines. You can also add more depth and interest to listings with interactive scheme plans, GOADs, 360-degree photography etc. The site should also provide the ability for users to download brochures for the property. Users are hungry for information. How much time is this going to take me? If you’re in charge of marketing many properties you don’t want to spend your life data inputting on your own website and then your client’s site and then the listings site etc. A good listing platform should only require one data input which then populates other linked sites (agent, owner etc). Your provider should power your corporate site with an automatic feed from their site, but be aware that some don’t. Get a bespoke feed that works off multiple databases and conforms

Make sure your provider is driving traffic to your listings. Pay-perclick is the lazy – and expensive – way. Featuring high on the results page of an ‘organic’ search is what you should be looking for.

What’s the return on my investment? Online property listing is part of the marketing mix. If you secure an occupier or a buyer as a consequence of them finding your property online that’s clearly the best indication that the listing platform is working. However, you should also be receiving from your provider regular user stats about the traffic that’s seeing your listings. You should also make sure that enquiries you get about properties are monitored and quantified. Make sure you ask where people saw your property. You’ll soon build up a picture of which listings are effective and which are less so, and where the leads are coming from.

The Completely Group own and manage the UK’s fastest growing commercial property listing network for UK retail, office and industrial property. If you would like to discuss how to effectively market your property online, please contact Matt O’Halloran on 01483 238 692 or COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014

30 // The Great Debate

This debate will be a great opportunity to share views from both sides of the equation... Alastair King – Chancerygate

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Speakers include: Chancerygate – Alastair King DHL – Matthew Whittaker Graftongate – Henry Angell-James Travis Perkins – Philip Joyce Verdion – Mike Hughes

THE GREAT DEBATE Is the property business serving the needs of the UK’s industrial, trade counter and logistics sectors? This year’s Completely Trade, Industrial & Logistics Marketplace is going to feature a full and frank debate between property providers and occupiers. The point for discussion is whether the property business is really giving occupiers what they want.

Occupier demand is changing all the time In a debate chaired by Estates Gazette, four major occupiers will go head-to-head with four property providers in what should prove to be an absorbing session. Matthew Whittaker of DHL who will be on the occupier panel commented: “Ultimately, the needs of occupiers and property providers have to be aligned. Any opportunity to further the conversation as to what that relationship looks like in today’s market is to be welcomed.”

King comments: “The businesses which occupy what is generically called ‘industrial’ space today are so diverse that there is a very broad base of demand. Occupiers represent a huge range of workplace requirements with everything from major logistics operations to food preparation and the storage of fine art. “Because of that, you have to be very attuned to what occupiers need, whether they are leasing from you or looking to buy freehold – as many of our customers do. We’re currently looking to acquire new development sites throughout London and the South East and you always have to have the end-user in mind when you’re assessing what could be created on a site.

Michael Hughes, Verdion

“You have to keep listening because occupier demand is changing all the time. This debate will be a great opportunity to share views from both sides of the equation and get a perspective on what some leading businesses are looking for.”

Now in its second year, the ground-breaking one-day marketplace event aims to bring occupiers and the property sector together in an intensive format which provides an extremely efficient means of discussing mutual interests and promoting property opportunities. Simon Millar of The Completely Group comments: “After the success of last year’s Marketplace, we’ve broadened the scope of the event to encompass the trade counter and logistics sector. “With the UK economy on the move again, it will be a fascinating opportunity to gauge where occupier demand is coming from and what that means for the property sector.” Cushman & Wakefield, Chancerygate and Travis Perkins are among the sponsors for the one-day event at Old Spitalfields Market on June 17th. Another of the panellists at the debate will be Chancerygate Development Director, Alastair King. For nearly 20 years the company has been one of the most prolific providers of industrial space.

Date: June 17th Venue: Old Spitalfields Market, London E1 Who should attend: Trade, industrial and logistics occupiers/developers/ investors/agents Details: tradeandindustrial. Shelley Batey on 08433 937729

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32 // Manifesto Words by Dominic Millar



WHAT DOES EXCELLENT MARKETING LOOK LIKE? Before you start marketing anything, it’s a good idea to ask this question. Google it, phone a friend or have a word with us. When it comes to property marketing we think there is an answer... COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014

“Customers can’t always tell you what they want, but they can always tell you what’s wrong” CARLY FIONA


“Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend” MARK ZUCKERBERG

3 “Design is intelligence made visible” ALINA WHEELER

// 33 A pithy quote from a wise person is a great starting point when you’re trying to analyse the essence of anything. So we asked around the Completely office and came up with our favourite sayings about marketing (see below). But after you read these through and get past the stage of head-nodding, muttering: “Yeah, that’s so right”, and maybe getting your favourite epithet tattooed on you somewhere, you’re still left with the practical challenge of promoting your product, service or business. If we had to pick one of those quotes above all the others it would be Seth Godin’s: “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers” because that most accurately describes how Completely has developed as a marketing agency and what we are constantly trying to achieve in the property business. Not unlike the Blues Brothers, we’re on a mission. A mission to change the way property professionals think about doing deals and marketing their opportunities.


“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers” SETH GODIN

5 “If plan ‘A’ fails, remember you have 25 letters left…” CHRIS GUILLEBEAU

6 “Your culture is your brand”

We started life as Squeeze Design – a bunch of creative people who specialised in producing commercial property brochures and websites. We did it well, and through close relationships with our clients got a better understanding of how the industry works. We could see the challenges facing agents, developers and landlords. We spoke at length with our clients about how we could improve their approach to managing marketing, and that’s why we broadened our business – and found new products for our customers. That approach resulted in the emergence of – an online portal which collected all the information on available retail property – from single High Street units through to entire shopping centres – and made it digitally available at the click of a mouse. We created a directory of every major retail scheme in the country. We provided landlords and developers with the ability to “sponsor” their schemes so they could be branded and enjoy better search results. We also ‘powered’ most of the major retail agents’ websites from the same database so that their property listings were kept up to date at the same time. It was a simple proposition, and because the site is sector-specific to retail, people searching for vacant or available shops only see relevant properties. The platform also enables clients to manage and maintain all their property marketing information in one place. This platform and these digital tools are all applicable to other property sectors and so we’ve expanded our market reach into the office, industrial and science park sectors. However, digital is not the answer to everything. Property remains an intensely people-orientated business and we realised that the missing part of the jigsaw was creating physical places for people to meet and do business. A ‘real world’ experience which complemented the digital offer of our business.

This realisation gave birth to our marketplace events: cost-effective, one day, London-based property marketing gatherings that focus solely on putting people together so they can get business done. First there was the Retail & Leisure Marketplace (now into its fourth show) and this has been followed by events for the industrial and office property sectors. We are the “go to” company for property marketing. Many clients now come to us for their online marketing, interactive PDFs, our events as well as the traditional branding and brochure work that we’ve always been known for. It’s a “joined up” approach to marketing which provides huge economies of efficiency for clients who don’t have to deal with multiple suppliers to enable the core of their marketing programme. So when it comes to what good property marketing looks like, we think we know – well, we would say that wouldn’t we? But if you want a unified and effective approach to property marketing we do believe we have the answer. And as the needs of the sector change you can be certain we’ll be broadening our offer to suit.



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34 // Interview

A WELL TRAVELLED MAN SEGRO’s Nick Hughes has seen the property marketing and communications process from just about every angle and he thinks it’s time for changes.

They say that travel broadens the mind; gives you a bigger perspective on life. The same could be said for your professional life. When there is a client-consultant relationship involved maybe you cannot fully appreciate the true dynamic until you have been on both sides of the table. So perhaps professional ‘travel’ also broadens that mind. In that respect, Nick Hughes is a well-travelled man. It is not that he has had a multiplicity of roles during nearly 25 years in property marketing and communications, but those that he has had encompass just about every corner of the business. Having joined the legendary Gilbert Doyle Advertising agency in 1991 (it spawned nine successful agencies), he then set up his own agency with a fellow GDO alumni, before becoming Global Head of Marketing at Knight Frank and then being recruited to his current role as Director of Marketing & Communications at business space giant, SEGRO. COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014

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Along the way he had a battle with cancer in 2006 and was given only a 20% chance of survival. So, as you might imagine, he has valuable perspectives on property marketing – and quite a lot more besides. His views are forthright but backed up with sound argument, example and an underlying passion for his business. We are not far into the conversation when I mention the time-honoured ritual of the monthly marketing meeting which typically brings together the client, letting agents and marketing agency to discuss the progress being made on marketing a building.

“Too often the marketing process just falls into a reactive mode. Eventually someone just says ‘We haven’t done an ad for three months’ and gets the creative agency to come up with something that might be quite funny and tickle somebody for a couple of minutes and they’ll run the ad, but what’s that achieved? “What does that say about the property? What does that say about the developer? Too much of that goes on. In my creative agency days, I might have lived with that because with every new brief comes a new fee, but it’s not the way to run the marketing of multi-million pound assets, nor build brand.”

Too often the marketing process just falls into reactive mode

“We’ve all attended marketing meetings; these things happen up and down the land every day. But they’re not marketing meetings, they’re sales meetings. The vast majority of the meeting is taken up with agents talking about enquiries. That’s the sales role; the agent delivers the sales role.

He argues that sporadic, uncoordinated marketing is destined to fail because it is not structured along fairly simple lines.

“There is nothing strategic about these meetings. They’re reviews. Obviously agents are absolutely massively important to the process, we can’t do without them, but we can’t do without strategic marketing either. We need to always be planning over a 12-18 month term.

“Marcoms works in an integrated fashion: ‘the rule of three, the power of seven’. The rule of three suggests that you need to have your touch points noticed across three different media for the audience to actually register whatever it is. The power of seven posits that if you’ve seen it across seven different media you are likely going to be positively affected to making a purchase.” COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014

36 // Interview

It’s about facilitating the agent’s job; not taking them out of the picture

“So for anyone to do a limited amount of advertising and then say it doesn’t work is an argument based on the wrong criteria – you need to analyse all aspects of activity holistically. That, of course, means it can be hard to determine what the right level of marcoms budgets are, but the starting point is understanding how all the available channels work, and how they must work together. “The legendary marketing commentator Philip Kotler said that the goal of marketing should be to make sales obsolete. He’s not suggesting you don’t need a sales force, but if marketing does its job properly then it makes the sale process so much easier to do. So in property it’s about facilitating the agents’ job; not taking them out of the equation.” The time he spent recovering from illness gave Hughes time to think about what he wanted from his professional life – and he soon decided it was not going to be a return to the agency world. “I suppose it was the incremental frustration of sitting opposite clients who would say ‘I want a brochure’ without examining what they really wanted to do, what they really wanted to deliver – and not being able to ask those questions. COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014

“My agenda in those days was obviously to make money for the agency and to create a successful business, a profitable one. So if I had a client saying ‘Here’s £50,000 for a brochure’, I took it, even though I knew there would be limited ROI.” “At that time the market was roaring along and there weren’t a lot of good marketing people working in the business. It’s clearly got much better and more strategic as people have had to battle through the recession.” He returned to the business at Knight Frank and found the role fascinating. “It was incredibly rewarding to work with a brand that just opened doors. There are some truly brilliant people at the top of Knight Frank, there’s no doubt about that. And I am very proud of the people I worked with in my team. At the end of my time at Knight Frank we had a really good team of people and I have no doubt that many of them will go on to be absolute superstars in their fields.” As Global Head of Marcoms, he was responsible for the perception of the Knight Frank brand throughout the world. So for nearly three years, Hughes was actually a welltravelled man as he globe-trotted around international offices ‘joining up the Knight Frank brand’. It may be a long way from downtown Hong Kong to the Slough Trading Estate but when the opportunity to join SEGRO came up, it was always something that a man – who you feel likes to be close to the end product of the business – was going to take on. It is also his first time in a quoted company environment which gives a very immediate daily benchmark.

// 37 In terms of more wide-reaching change, Hughes believes the property industry has lagged behind other business sectors in terms of investment and commitment to the process. “There are still too many people shoved into marketing roles because they’re available and not because they’re gifted or trained. That does the whole process a disservice. “So while there has been a massive change in the quality and management of property marketing in the last 20 years we’ve still got a long way to go.” His commitment to driving excellence is demonstrated by the work he is putting in to reinvigorate the Property Marketing Awards. For this year’s awards, he has assembled a judging panel which includes senior figures from Microsoft, Channel 4, Ogilvy & Mather and the V&A Museum. He believes that property needs to benchmark itself against wider – more progressive – business sectors. Photography by Hufton + Crow

“The judges’ view on property marketing should be fascinating, but win, lose or draw all of us in the property marketing business need to be aspiring to levels of excellence that would be appropriate to any business.” In terms of branding strength and recognition the room for improvement is considerable for anyone in business. Hughes cites the example of ‘Love Marks’ – the brand measure concept created by Saatchi Worldwide’s Chief Executive, Kevin Roberts. “We have one very obvious metric all the time which is our share price. We’ve got a market capitalisation all the time; and we’re all working to maximise that whatever we’re doing. “There’s an incredibly strong team ethic at SEGRO – a lot of which comes from the Chief Executive, David Sleath. Two years ago, he unveiled the strategy we’re working on now. It’s being enacted and it’s being enacted very well. The city seems to like it because our share price is robust.” Hughes’s challenge is now to fit a marketing strategy into the corporate vision. Just four months into the job, he is understandably reticent to say too much about what that strategy will look like in practice but says it will involve taking a more ‘cerebral’ approach with a more long-term vision. “We have to communicate with many audiences: our shareholders, our customers, brokers, analysts, our JVs, our banks – they’re all really important audiences for us and we’ve got to communicate consistently and coherently to all of them. “As part of that process, brand is very important because every product and service is a manifestation of the brand. Everything that has a touch point is going to engage you emotionally and therefore create the brand in your head. My role is to make sure that the perception of SEGRO is where we want it to be. “There is a fantastic reality to SEGRO, but perhaps the external perception is lagging behind that. And that’s not a rare occurrence in property marcoms. Perhaps people don’t know enough about SEGRO, and perhaps in the past we were a little bit shy, possibly a bit nervous and a bit awkward in the way we went about engaging. I would seek to change that.”

“His line of thinking on Love Marks was that if you go back in time and looked at what sales wanted to achieve, the gold standard was customer satisfaction. That was the end game – if we can achieve customer satisfaction, that’s bloody terrific. “Then the bar was raised to ‘advocacy’: not only did people like your product, they told their friends about it. But ‘Love Marks’ transcends both in terms of brand strength.

Perhaps people don’t know enough about SEGRO, and perhaps in the past we were a little bit shy “Apple is an easy example: it’s following is beyond customer satisfaction and advocacy. It’s like a form of love. It’s a concept backed up by neural research, that as a human being 80% of our decisions are made on intuition and emotion with a maximum of 20% left to logic. “I think it would be very hard for any property company to achieve Love Marks status, but in terms of SEGRO we need a strong brand position so people ‘get’ SEGRO. So they don’t have to think about SEGRO: they just know SEGRO, and they know what SEGRO stands for.” COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014

38 //

Ultimately, at The Completely Group we hope that our work speaks for itself. We also hope you’ll come to our events, and check out our listing platforms. In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of some work we’ve done. You can see more on our website ( in the Portfolio section.

The Crown Estate iPad portfolio

Five Ways, Birmingham investment brochure

Westfield Bradford development website

Rams Walk brochure

LaSalle Investment Management microsite

Briggate, Leeds investment brochure

KM Jones, London Homes brochure

Moat, Oxford Mews website

A sneak peek at the upcoming GCW website

COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014

COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014

No Going Back Now // 39


For anonymity and the avoidance of a P45, the identity of the Secret Agent must remain hidden. Suffice it to say that they are active in the London market and will be sharing their marketing experiences with us from time to time. We join our ‘mole’ during an interface with his senior partner… “Brochure! Ad in the EG! Letting party!” His clenched fist came down on the oak surface to emphasise each phrase. An uncapped fountain pen rolled sideways and off the desk. It’s the bit of my job I hate most. Every time we get an instruction we have to go to the senior partner and map out our marketing plans. He is now giving me his feedback on my plans for an instruction that I was rather excited about bringing to market. “Ad, brochure, party! I let half of the West End with that marketing approach and I’m not sure why you think you know better!” It was my own fault. I’m usually ‘economic with the truth’ when telling him what we’re going to do but this time I’d given him the truth. The whole nine yards. Microsite, email campaign, online listing, brochure, push SMS marketing, PR, advertising, video, social media and, yes, a letting party. I hadn’t drawn breath and it was only when his face got redder than a lobster with sunburn that my great marketing vision rather tailed off. He took the opening to give me his opinion and we were now at the desk-bashing stage. My sudden outbreak of frankness was actually a result of a drink I’d had with a mate from college who now has a BMW dealership in Surrey. He’d been telling

me about how they are bringing the new 2-series coupe to the market. After an endless list of initiatives and showing me stunning videos of the motor on his phone, he uttered the immortal phrase: “I guess you do the same with your properties…”. A colleague from the office who’d joined us at the bar snorted into his pint. I then told my mate how we did it and watched his eyebrows march up his forehead. “What!? You guys are dinosaurs! Relics! Why not get one of those ‘Golf Sale’ boards while you’re at it?”.

I found myself shouting across the desk: “You’re a dinosaur! A relic!”

To say I was peeved was an understatement. My colleague piped up: “Yeah, but cars are a big ticket item”. “And buildings aren’t?” my mate chipped back. Good point: what’s the annual rent on a 5,000 sq ft of City offices? Or a shop up the West End? Or a big shed in Park Royal? Yep, ‘big ticket’ by any measure. So I left the pub that night as a ‘New Marketing’ convert and when the boss asked me for my plans I told him what exactly I wanted to do. And now I found myself shouting across the desk: “You’re a dinosaur! A relic!”. Shame that he’d already left for lunch – and an even bigger shame that I have my annual appraisal next week. Ah well, onwards and upwards: I have seen the future and it works.

COMPLETELY [different] Spring 2014






FIND YOUR NEXT PROPERTY OPPORTUNITY Meet with the UK’s leading developers, lenders, investors, agents and occupiers of trade counter, Industrial & logistics property in one day, under one roof.

ATTEND Occupiers of Trade Counter, Industrial or Logistics Property – FREE OF CHARGE* Agents, Developers, Lenders and Investors – EARLY BIRD RATE £395+VAT**

Speakers include: Chancerygate – Alastair King DHL – Matthew Whittaker Graftongate – Henry Angell-James Travis Perkins – Philip Joyce Verdion – Mike Hughes

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Completely [different] Magazine Issue 1 Spring 2014  

A magazine which we think is Completely [different] Among the features in this issue you’ll find out what LaSalle’s James Boyd Phillips thi...

Completely [different] Magazine Issue 1 Spring 2014  

A magazine which we think is Completely [different] Among the features in this issue you’ll find out what LaSalle’s James Boyd Phillips thi...