1. March 2019

  2. Last post: Old Sorting House letting marks final milestone in building’s evolution

    20 March 2019
    The recent letting of Old Sorting House, N1 to one of the biggest disruptors in the medical sector - the online doctors surgery Zava - marks not only the final milestone in the building’s evolution, but also the end of a four-year journey for the Colliers City Fringe Team and their involvement with a historic piece of Islington real estate.

    The origins of the Old Sorting House reach back to the 1850s, when the Post Office sought new premises within the Angel area. Finding few opportunities among existing buildings, the Post Master General decided they should build their own and a walk through the vast hall provides compelling evidence as to the scope of operation provided by the Victorian-era postal service.

    Our connection with this local landmark goes back to the autumn of 2014 when we sold the site to North Hill and helped them explore 
    the building’s development potential. One successful planning application later and we sold the building on to Chelsea-based developer Martin’s Properties in 2016.

    Works then began on a comprehensive redevelopment  including a brand new pitched roof, new internal floors and a new-build side extension. Completed in late 2018, Old Sorting House now houses over 20,000 Ft² of remarkable office space over four storeys, from lower ground to second floors.

    Working very much with the original Victorian fabric, the interiors get progressively more architectural as you ascend. Beginning with exposed brick and sash windows at the bottom, the building culminates in an astonishing top floor with roof lights running the length of the roof apex and twin walls of glass opening out to  spacious terraces.

    It's a truly extraordinary space for a business to occupy, and the let to Zava matches the shared innovative cultures of developer and tenant.

    Zava has swiftly grown  to become the largest digital healthcare provider in Europe, dispensing over 2 million treatments since 2011. Headquartered in London, Zava operates in six different markets - the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Ireland.

    Already based in Angel for some time, Zava was keen to find a new home nearby to carry out its expansion plans with minimal disruption to the commutes or local familiarity of the workforce. 

    Old Sorting House was the perfect candidate.

    The Author
  3. Original archetype: warehouse office at pioneering City Fringe building

    19 March 2019
    If you’re looking for a list of authentic loft essentials in your next choice of workspace, the interiors at 8 Shepherdess Walk have everything required to achieve the quintessential urban office.
    Grit blasted brick walls: check. Raw timber beams: check. Chunky iron pillars: check. Huge warehouse windows across three elevations: that too. And there’s a whole host of contemporary touches as well with air conditioning ducts and services running overhead in galvanised metal troughs; ceiling mounted LED lighting with exposed conduit; power sockets recessed into the floor and a good size full kitchen with cupboards in white high gloss and woodblock surfaces.

    Ostensibly open plan, this first floor space extends to 2,846 ft2 and also features in-situ meeting rooms as part of the fit out. Facilities within the building include a passenger lift, showers and male & female WCs.

    Shepherdess Walk maintains a special place in renaissance of Shoreditch and the City Fringe as one of the original streets that saw warehouse workspaces first take hold and that really put Hoxton on the map as a place to live, work and play.

    The location is just 5 minutes walk from Old Street roundabout where Underground, National Rail and bus services connect to much of London, making this an easy place to get to and from with Clerkenwell, The City, West End, Islington and Kings Cross all readily accessible. 

    The collection of places to eat and drink in the vicinity is now legendary with food from all around the world, creative cocktails, craft beer, gourmet coffee and almost every type of breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner available. The daily street market at Whitecross Street is a real favourite among workers and locals, while the new retail and restaurant boulevard at The Bower has become an instant hit.

    The Author
  4. Independents' Day

    13 March 2019
    The area in London’s Camden around the Regents Canal has for many years been associated with creativity and independent thinking. Camden Lock Market is renowned for its eclectic mix of fashion and food. Channel 4 was born at ‘egg cup house’ on the canal and broke the mould of TV in the UK, while legendary music venue, Dingwalls, was one of the crucibles of punk rock.

    Now, Labtech is planning a suitably revolutionary new market destination for shopping, eating, living and working at Hawley Wharf Camden. This extraordinary scheme comprises 150 stores, three rooftop restaurants, more than 60 new places to eat and drink together with 60,000 sq ft of LABS co-working space and 200+ apartments.

    There are already about 28m people who visit the Camden Lock area each year, but a large proportion of those are tourists. With Hawley Wharf, Labtech want to create a destination that will also draw Londoners again and again.

    The retail and F&B emphasis will be on originality and freshness. The developers are extending this ‘thinking outside the box’ to the lease terms which it’s envisaged will comprise a minimal or no base rent with the majority of the rental income being linked to the retailer’s turnover in the store. This is extremely attractive to start-ups and brands exploring new markets as it minimises their financial risk of taking a shop. Conversely, if they end up trading tremendously well, it provides enhanced income for Labtech.

    This alignment of interests between property provider and occupier will become increasingly commonplace in the retail and F&B sectors and the Hawley Wharf project will be a fascinating test bed for this – as well as creating a brilliant new destination in London.

    For further information, visit or contact us at
  5. Opportunity and occupancy in WC1

    11 March 2019
    The Emerald Street Estate isn't really what you'd expect from Bloomsbury. In an area mostly associated with Georgian garden squares, Dickensian streetscapes and the hordes of the British Museum, a clutch of warehouses is something of a surprise.
    Robust architectural mementos of British mercantile heritage, these stout industrial buildings have been reimagined as atmospheric workspaces with authentic interiors of grit-blasted brickwork, renovated crittal windows and an all-around rugged aesthetic. Among the gathering of creative enterprises, Emerald Street is home to Portas, the brand consultancy founded by Mary Portas.

    We've had a flurry of recent activity on the street with a series of units becoming available and occupations across a number of buildings. At the Victorian-era 14-18 we completed a letting of the ground floor to Troy Planning and Design. Specialising in strategic and community planning in the public and private sector, the company has UK offices in London, Manchester and Hampshire along with international locations in Portland, USA and Amsterdam in The Netherlands.

    At 17-21, we let a light and bright plug & play space of 7,95ft² on the third floor to Senbla, a concert promotion and production company that arranges shows and national tours across the UK including films with a live orchestral accompaniment alongside gigs and musicals.

    In addition, we have just commenced marketing on the 1st floor at 17-21 which allows for a fantastic open-plan unit measuring 1,849ft² which has been fitted with a meeting room and kitchenette. The unit boasts generous amounts of natural light and has retained its original timber wooden flooring throughout. 

    Finally, at 10-12 we are marketing another third floor space in an art deco building, this time of 9,56ft² with high ceilings, engineered oak floors, a meeting room behind a glass curtain wall and a seriously smooth charcoal coloured kitchen. The quoting rent is £49.50 psf.

    Emerald Street is well placed for Russell Square, Holborn and Chancery Lane Underground stations alongside the food, culture and shopping of the nearby Brunswick Centre and an easy walk into Clerkenwell or Covent Garden.

    If you'd like to find out how Emerald Street could work for your business, please contact Sarah Hill in the City Fringe team.

  6. British clothing label collars new HQ

    4 March 2019
    We have just completed the letting of the entire first phase at EWR on Parr Street, N1 to the fashion house JW Anderson.

    Founded by Northern Irish designer Jonathan Anderson in 2008, the label's rise has been swift. Its idiosyncratic perspective quickly grew beyond its early cult following and resulted in the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH taking a 46% stake in 2013. Today, JW Anderson has a achieved international renown along with a tenfold increase in annual turnover. Among its many accolades are the double win of Menswear and Womenswear Designer of the Year at the 2015 British Fashion Awards.

    The label has relocated from its former headquarters in Dalston where it had occupied 4,000 ft2 since 2014. The move to Shoreditch and into 12,000ft2 across the first to fourth floors will allow the company to expand its operations across the board.

    EWR is part of a new creative neighbourhood for Hoxton that bridges the Regent’s Canal and connects the dots between City Road and Essex Road. Already home to fashion houses and tech venture capitalists, the area surrounding Shoreditch Park is becoming a magnet for businesses seeking a city fringe location and excellent value for money.

    Designed by Buckley Grey Yeoman and developed by Aitch Group, this brand new building takes its cue from an industrial aesthetic with plenty of concrete and crittall, but the scheme is elevated with elegant interiors and an arresting reception. The effect is delivers a great first impression alongside a warm welcome that continues throughout, with strong, bold and carefully proportioned spaces offering a comfortable and productive environment for the people working there.

    Parr Street is roughly ten minutes’ walk from both Old Street and Essex Road stations, so well connected for tubes, trains, buses and cycle paths. It's also an stroll into Shoreditch, Clerkenwell, Islington and The City for lunchtime or after-work retail, dining and drinking therapy.

    Phase 2 of EWR is due to complete this summer and will provide a fully self-contained 10,000ft2 duplex unit across the ground and lower ground floors. If you'd like to discover how the building could work for your business, please contact Elliott Stern in the City Fringe team.

  7. February 2019

  8. Bowing to demand: landlords respond to flexible workspace trend

    28 February 2019
    The trend towards flexible leasing shows no signs of abating as the average lease length across London continues to fall and the average period to the first break clause now at a record low of just 3.2 years. The trend suggests occupiers are increasingly focussed on wider events such as Brexit, as well as the need to build contingency into lease commitments, albeit at increased financial cost.
    It is no secret that the monthly cost of a co-working space can be 2-3 times that of a conventional lease, but the removal of upfront security deposits and fit out costs - along with the easy exit options afforded by serviced office models- are proving more than enough to woo tenants in droves.

    At the other end of the spectrum, there remains a market for newly refurbished, Category A specification space, although mostly in the 5,000 sq ft+ bracket. On smaller unfitted units landlords are experiencing longer void periods, but there will always be exceptions to the rule and established businesses are more likely to take a conventional lease and undertake their own bespoke fit out.

    But what about the middle ground? While almost every business would jump at the chance to reduce its upfront capital expenditure, not all companies want or suit a co-working environment. Yet the need to remain agile is making firms sensitive to the commitment of 5 or 10 year leases.

    For the majority of enterprises seeking to relocate, the desire is to complete the legal process and move as quickly as possible. Factoring in half a year (or more) for lengthy tenders, interior design conversations and fit outs just doesn’t really fit the model for many modern firms.

    Responding to the shift towards flexible workspace, some pro-active landlords are seizing the opportunity to bridge the gap between the extremes of CAT A and co-working, with the prospect of not only retaining an audience, but of reducing voids and shortening rent-free periods given at the start of a lease.

    There are now a growing number of case studies to support the benefit of recycling existing fit outs and undertaking new ones on a speculative basis. A prime example of the former is 77 Kingsway where we had two units to offer: the fifth floor refurbished to a CAT A specification, and the first floor with the previous tenant’s fit out in situ. While the fifth floor was let to an architectural practice looking to put their own stamp on the space, the first floor received a light touch refurbishment and the addition of some new furniture. The rents achieved on the floors were aligned, but the cost of refreshing the existing fit out on the first floor was around a quarter of the cost of returning the fifth to Category A. Along with the reduced void and rent free period on the first floor, this reflected a great result for the landlord. 

    In the main, landlords are far better placed than tenants to undertake a fit out, both in practical terms and in securing lower costs. Delivering plug’n’play spaces removes the demand for lengthy rent-free periods and allows tenants to move in immediately. While it does force the Landlord to second-guess how a prospective tenant might want to design their space, the fitting out costs are covered by a combination of shorter rent-free periods and a small rental premium of around £5-10 per sq ft. Equally favouring both landlord and tenant, it's a win-win situation for everyone.

    The Author
  9. Wellness in the workplace: food for thought

    26 February 2019
    As part of the ongoing commitment to wellness in the workplace at the Colliers City Office, nutritionist Jade Barkett of Avococo Jade chatted to the team about the importance of nutrition for workplace productivity and day-to-day wellbeing.
    Avococo Jade provides personalised nutrition advice and genetic testing. But with a previous career in equity research at an investment bank, founder Jade also has first-hand experience of trying to marry a healthy eating routine with a busy working day. 

    So how can we incorporate sustainable simple eating practices into our daily lives? 

    Jade advised on the benefits of the vital vitamins necessary to boost our energy levels, focus and productivity. We all know the importance of Vitamin C, but our brain often pushes for the easier sugary snacks such as biscuits, sweets or chocolates. Instead, Jade suggested making healthier fruits more available and visible in the office, forcing us to think before we eat and most likely choose the healthier option. A simple fruit bowl in the office is a great starting point! 

    Interestingly, coffee is on the recommended nutrition list for improving cognitive function and fuelling productivity. However, given that caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours the recommendation was to keep the intake to the mornings: a late afternoon shot would still be in someone's system by bedtime.  

    Getting enough sleep was another key recommendation from Jade. Disrupted sleep patterns leave people feeling unrested, fuelling the desire to take in more caffeine (or bad sugars) throughout the day. This spikes energy levels and can lead to enhanced anxiety, which is an area of concern when working in a high-pressured environment that requires concise and accurate decisions.  

    Cravings sometimes can’t be stopped, so what’s the alternative? Jade had two great suggestions: drop a cacao cube into some hot water, or put a teaspoon of turmeric into hot oat milk which has a higher protein content than regular milk – this gets released slowly for a continual release of energy, ultimately combating those afternoon dips. 

    Finally, while maintaining nutritional value in the office is important, it also needs to be transferred to our home environment: after a long day, the temptation can be to go for a ready-made option. Jade's healthy was to steam vegetables, instead of boiling or roasting, to retain their healthy goodness. She even suggested making a “cuppa” from the water used to steam the veg! 

    All in all, we really appreciated the advice and look forward (hopefully) to putting these recommendations into practice.

  10. QR codes: rebooting retail

    20 February 2019
    How seemingly out-dated technology is now transforming the way retailers configure their stores and shoppers pay for goods.
    It’s been 25 years since QR (Quick Response) codes were first introduced to the world - the scannable graphics that have featured on virtually everything from boarding passes, magazines and food products to social media - connecting users to video content, websites and product information. Arguably born ahead of its time, the technology quickly gained a somewhat poor reputation amongst users when it was initially introduced, with reports of links to inactive websites or frustrations at additional download requirements.  

     Fast forward to today, and the QR code is enjoying a definite resurgence, with 2018 research from GlobalWebIndex indicating that twice as many respondents in Europe and North America scanned a QR code in Q3 2018 compared with Q3 2015. The driver behind its revival lies within its adoption by social media/payment giants WeChat, SnapChat and AliPay, as well as new found ease of use following the launch of Apple’s iOS 11, which incorporates a native QR code reader built into the camera. 

    The retail industry in particular has embraced the use of smartphone scanning, with fashion brands and QR codes proving to be a match made in heaven. Fashion retailer Zara recently added QR codes to their clothing labels, providing a direct link online to order or obtain information on sizes, colours and manufacturing. During their January sale campaign, QR codes adorned Zara shop fronts enabled consumers to link to sale items ready for order online without the need to enter the shop. Taking this one step further, the brand unveiled its new-look digital store concept at Westfield Stratford City last year, where amongst other features, a robotic arm collects and organises packages, and delivers products in seconds following the scanning of a personal QR code.

    In the international grocery sector, retailers have taken to combining elements of online and offline shopping to create the ultimate seamless in-store experience. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has done just this in their Hema store concept, with customers able to scan QR codes on food products to get information, including the exact date items were harvested, sourced and delivered. As a result of its popularity, Alibaba is rapidly expanding Hema throughout China. Amazon’s latest entrance into the grocery market ‘Amazon Go’ also relies on the use of a personalised QR profile to register users on entry/exit. On the European side, Sainsbury’s recently trialed their first till-free lane in Clapham, London, where QR codes are used to facilitate the payment of goods. 

    Retail, while being about experience, is also all about margins and any development in technology that reduces the cost of physical retailing is an important one for operators. The integration of QR codes both streamlines the shopper’s in-store experience and reduces the retailer’s overheads with fewer people required to staff a store. 

    The term ‘quick response’ now lives up to its name, and with Google Pay, Barclays PingIt and many others developing QR payment systems, it seems likely that we will see the widespread adoption of this payment method across the UK. 

    The convergence of physical and digital worlds is continuing apace and we expect the integration of QR codes to play a major role in disrupting the way we interact in-store, online and in more informal retail environments.


    Georgie Griffiths
    Surveyor Retail Capital Markets

  11. Should Bank junction be pedestrianised?

    14 February 2019
    Anyone who regularly walks around the Bank area must have noticed the drop in car numbers over the last few months. The trial restriction on road traffic through Bank junction has made a noticeable impact on both the level of noise and accidents, resulting in the City of London’s recent approval of pedestrianising the junction over the next few years.
    It's been a real pleasure being on foot in this part of the City since September, away from the usual experience of perilous skits across the street through long lines of traffic, or the ever-present threat of toppling from the kerb into the path of oncoming vehicles. And with more entrances to Bank station opening up and with increased numbers of pedestrians using both the station and narrow pavements, things clearly need to change.

    So could Bank junction go the way of nearby Old Street Roundabout? The City's northern gateway is set for a major transformation that will turn the iconic, manic and occasionally lethal gyratory into a new and altogether more civilised public piazza.

    Pedestrians and cyclists will certainly favour a shift in priorities away from cars and onto people – shared spaces like Lennard Street in Shoreditch have shown how workable this is – and we can see the delight in a carefree amble through one of London's most extraordinary collections of heritage buildings, free to stop and admire them without the risk of injury.  

    The makeup of the City is changing like never before, with places like The Ned, Puttshack and Bloomberg Arcade bringing new types of places and spaces, so could this extend to a more - dare we say it - European-style pavement culture?

    An increase in pedestrian traffic could well have a positive impact on the hundreds of coffee shops, cafes, restaurants and retailers, but they will have concerns over access for supplies. Experience tells us that simply expecting all deliveries to happen before 6am doesn't work for every business, but perhaps an answer lies in how they will do it at 22 Bishopsgate. This 61-storey skyscraper hosts multiple food and leisure operations, all of whose supplies are handled by a single fulfilment centre just outside the M25 and amalgamated into a pair of daily delivery trucks.

    There is also public transport to consider, with numerous bus routes and plenty of taxis currently passing through. Whether the junction could or needs to be liberated from every type of vehicle remains to be seen, but if buses and cabs were the only traffic during the day, then we are looking at a remarkable new future for one of the City's busiest intersections. 

    It's worth noting that there is a campaign, principally from the taxi trade, to have the scheme significantly changed or abandoned, citing a generally detrimental impact on City business from the exclusion of cabs and that many businesses are against it. In truth, there has been very little reaction from the business community. 

    It should also be said that the idea of darting about the City in cabs is somewhat dashed by the reality of the traffic, with even the shortest journeys often beatable by walking - so pedestrianisation wins on the wellbeing front. And with the arrival of Crossrail at Moorgate, journeys through the middle of London are already set for a major boost.

    Whichever side of the argument somebody takes, the benefits of lighter traffic, fewer accidents and better air quality are universal, so we look forward to seeing the next phase of plans around mid 2019 that could signal a new era for Bank junction that works for everyone.

  12. Pachamama heads east: Peruvian inspired restaurant opens in Shoreditch

    12 February 2019
    Given how deeply rooted Pachamama is as a Londoner’s favourite in the capital’s Peruvian dining scene, it seems somewhat implausible that not only did the Creative Restaurant Group’s first Pachamama only open in 2014, but that the Shoreditch opening brings the London total to only three.
    The Colliers Tenant Representation team were contacted by Pachamama last year to source a suitable location for the restaurant’s eastern expansion, and the team’s foraging unearthed an opportunity in Shoreditch at Ironwood Works, a warehouse building that was mid-refurbishment but had yet to go to market.

    Developed by Aitch Group to a design by Hut Architects, Ironwood Works is a classic Shoreditch building, with a brick façade and huge industrial windows with a dual frontage onto both Great Eastern Street and Willow Street. It’s a location that gives Pachamama East a highly visible position at the very heart of the Shoreditch Triangle. 

    The restaurant extends to just over 2,500ft2 and is a two-storey space across the ground and lower ground floors, with dramatic ceiling heights exceeding 4m at street level and 3.4m on the lower floor. Pachamama took the unit in shell and core condition before enacting a fit out by its design partner Inter Developments Consultants.

    Fittingly for its eastern opening, the Shoreditch Pachamama has augmented its menu by adding Asian influences, with bubble-tea cocktails and Sichuan fried chicken sitting alongside the restaurant’s signature pisco sours and ceviches.

    Upstairs at Ironwood Works are five floors of beautifully crafted office space: three from the original warehouse and two more from a new  extension and roof terrace, where developers Aitch Group have taken occupation. 

    The opening of Pachamama East puts the restaurant in exceptional company, with the Shoreditch dining scene now home to some of the most fashionable, exclusive and finest options for eating out in London, including Nobu, St John’s Cheese & Wine, Lyle’s, Clove Club, Andina and L’Anima.

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