Upfront | Property Matters | C-Suite
SOUND OF THE SUBURBS Not everyone wants to be cutting edge, but almost everybody wants to be cool. BizSpace’s Emma Long explains to David Thame how one growing out-of-town serviced office provider hopes to keep the suburbs happy
32 | Mix 188 October 2018
Lazy assumptions, stereotypical thinking: prejudice is a dreadful thing – and it is as prevalent in the office market as anywhere else. One sector that really suffers from a large dose of prejudice is the suburban office market. The very word ‘suburban’ seems to tell a story. It suggests cosy, neat, perhaps rather chintzy and conservative. Above all, it suggests normal. A suburban location is a no-surprise place. Yawn, yawn. In the last decade, the suburban office market has suffered from exactly this stigma. The trendy people work in city centres and you folks out in the business parks – well, sorry guys, you’re just not very cool. One business-space landlord is trying to change this and there is nothing of the above about the woman in charge of its efforts, BizSpace Commercial Director Emma Long. BizSpace claims to be the UK’s largest provider of flexible workspace. It is in the midst of a £37m investment, which is adding new suburban workspaces to its network – and design is at the centre of what it does.
Since September 2017, BizSpace, has added 351,000 sq ft to its portfolio. Backed by Värde Partners, BizSpace now has a total of 105 UK-wide properties, equating to over 6 million sq ft under ownership. Recent openings include Waltham Abbey in Essex, Hemel Hempstead, Cardiff, Doncaster and Cheadle in Greater Manchester. The company has also invested £25 million into refurbishing and updating its core portfolio, implementing cost-saving programmes, reducing energy consumption and improving the work environment for its 4,000 micro and SME customers. The aim, says Long, is to appeal to those who do not want a tedious commute into town and who would prefer a small business base close to their home. You could call them the ‘busy mum’ demographic, although that’s not an expression BizSpace uses. ‘It’s always been about the ’burbs for us,’ Emma says. ‘Our clients don’t want the city centre. They want a location near home, with parking.