Playing the relocation game for rent reductions and reinvention - Colliers International | London



  1. March 2018

  2. Playing the relocation game for rent reductions and reinvention

    5 March 2018
    When we talk of businesses relocating, the conversation is generally around size. Usually that means expansion, but companies do also shrink their operations, and not only for negative reasons: new technology, freelancing and outsourcing can significantly reduce the amount of space a business requires.
    In recent months we’ve helped companies relocate for all manner of reasons. As rents increase and new enterprises move in, existing occupiers may cast their net wider for lower outgoings. Some may seek to grow up and move to a more mature environment, while others might wish to come out of a co-working space and into a home of their own. A simple upgrade of amenities might be another driver.

    Among those seeking more competitive rents were video ad tech firm Unruly, moving from Shoreditch to 25,000ft2 in Whitechapel. GTI Media swapped Farringdon for Southwark into 4,000ft2 of cheaper, more flexible space. In a less-than-obvious move, Echo Architecture left Farringdon for Canary Wharf, enabling the acquisition of 8,000ft2 from their previous 4,000 ft2. Given the amount of floor space these firms are occupying, the savings on costs are not insignificant.  

    Shoreditch being a cheaper option isn’t something we’d been expecting to write, but when compared to rents in Kings Cross, it does indeed represent excellent value. Whitechapel & Aldgate are drawing people out of Shoreditch and Spitalfields; Southwark now has enough to pull to wrest companies away from Farringdon; even Canary Wharf is on the radar outside of the financial sector, due in no small part to its increased connectivity.  When the Elizabeth Line station opens, the journey to Farringdon will be a mere 8 minutes; when that particularly penny drops, we suspect more creative enterprises will follow Echo’s lead. 

    Even with the influx of FinTech companies Shoreditch has steered clear of becoming too polished and somehow keeps an (albeit mildly) anarchic edge. But head a mile down the road to Farringdon, and things have taken a different path. 

    In a seemingly conscious shift from urban to urbane, the EC1 postcode has carved out a separate niche to Shoreditch – just stand outside Farringdon station to notice a markedly different passenger to those using Shoreditch High Street and Old Street. Farringdon has evolved and its maturity has altered its attraction. That was picked up on by Moo, an enterprise vastly matured since its beginnings, and the company shifted its operations from Shoreditch to Farringdon, taking up 35,000ft2 in the former Meryll Lynch building above the Station.

    Tech design agency Foolproof made the same move, although in the opposite direction, swapping Clerkenwell for Spitalfields to get not just 8,500ft2, but also its own front door and an improved environment for the workforce. 

    Shared workspaces and serviced offices are a hit with fledgling businesses. Flexibility in lease terms and the ability to up- or down-size swiftly and without penalty are hugely attractive, but once the dust has settled a clear trajectory determined, the desire for permanence comes to the fore.

    We touched recently upon Playbuzz swapping its co-working location on Wimpole Street for a self-contained office in Covent Garden, and that story is much the same for tech firm Bloomreach who took its London office out of a co-working space in Moorgate and into a 1,600ft2 self-contained office in Clerkenwell.

    Why move for one reason when you can upgrade all areas? The rapidly expanding student affinity network UNiDAYS has gone from 3,500ft2 to 15,900ft2 in a mere 12 months. Saying goodbye to Spitalfields, UNiDAYS went a short distance to Aldgate for better value, more space, business expansion and greater gravitas.

    A lesson we can take from all of this, is that the benefits to gained from relocation spread far wider than simple business expansion. If you’d like us to help with any of your business moves, we’d love to talk to you. 

    The Author

    Sophie Higgins
    020 7101 2020
    07786 510 974