Minister for Electrification?4 March 2020It now seems a long time ago since driving an expensive 4x4 – or ‘Chelsea tractor’ – around London was seen as a status symbol. Today, the emphasis in urban areas is – quite rightly - on sustainability and the environment. The issue of London’s air quality is now high on the political agenda and will no doubt figure prominently in the run-up to May’s mayoral election.In that context, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement regarding the ban on selling new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars being brought forward from 2040 to 2035 should have been welcomed.However, this may be a case of hitting the accelerator at the wrong time. Most vehicle manufacturers are now starting to produce electric cars on a mass scale and the sector is clearly adapting. But while the Government’s plans are welcome in terms of their commitment, the e-vehicle market is still in its infancy and the government should, in the first instance, be concentrating on a clear and cohesive strategy for nationwide charging infrastructure roll-out, or even appointing a ‘Minister for Electrification’, such is the important of this to the environment, UK vehicle manufacturers and the motor retailing sector.A combined undersupply of charging points both at home and ‘on the move’ together with apprehension over lengthy charging times is currently contributing to a lack of buyer confidence and ‘range anxiety’. Meanwhile, concerns over the ability of the current UK energy supply to meet future demand and the lack of guidance for landlords and developers for integrating charging points in to commercial premises is causing misperceptions.Charging a vehicle at your home is fine if you have off-street parking, but most central London residents don’t. Some London Boroughs are selectively placing charging points in lamp posts. This is a great initiative, but what happens when every vehicle is electric? We already see cables stretched for 20 metres along the pavement which is a safety risk and open to vandalism.There needs to be more consistency in terms of the approach to the infrastructure. At the moment it seems a ‘free for all’ approach has been adopted, so anyone with an electrical vehicle who arrives at a charging point does not even know what type of charge they are going to receive, and whether it will even work. And, as charging times improve, the need for higher levels of electricity is also required, but some locations are not able to provide the required capacities.Further infrastructure needs to be created, particularly at existing petrol filling stations and arterial route locations. Filling a vehicle with petrol or diesel takes a matter of minutes, but even e-vehicle superchargers take significantly longer.The addition of charging points at filling stations in town and city car parks, shopping centres, retail parks, supermarkets and new public ‘charging parks’ represents both a challenge and an opportunity for landlords and developers.But whilst it’s good that Prime Minister Johnson is attuned to society’s desire for a better environment, he first needs to show support for the required infrastructure. If the mass migration of drivers to e-vehicles is going to be a realistic and achievable goal, the UK Government needs to fully support both the property and automotive retailing sectors, including petrol retailers, - rather than simply bringing a deadline five years forward.Author:John Robertsjohn.email@example.com+44 121 265 7553
168 Shoreditch High Street4 March 2020Stand outside 168 Shoreditch High St and swing a cat and within a single swivel you’ll hit the Michelin starred Brat, members club Shoreditch House, hipster hotel and hangout Ace, and a near infinite number of other delights to boot.Drop the now-disgruntled cat and cooly enter this brand-new warehouse-inspired office building located within the very heart of the heart of Shoreditch, and you’ll see there’s as much to excite the senses inside as out.The first and second floors are available either open plan (CAT A) or Fully Fitted, meaning you have either a blank canvas to create your perfect space or a ready-to-go, fully furnished option for an instant move in.Linear handmade brick and black powder coated windows combine to recall the area’s industrial history while curtain walling and black vertical fins on the upper floors create an altogether dramatic visual impression.Naturally bright and airy interiors with substantial ceiling heights provide space to move and breathe. Windows span three full elevations and flood the building in daylight. Air-conditioning, state-of-the-art WCs, showers, elevators, and bike storage complete the facilities.The nearest stations are Shoreditch High Street on the Overground (less than a 5-minute walk) and Old Street on the Northern Line (just over 10 minutes by foot), while a choice of busses—linking to the City and beyond—stop a literal hop away.As well as the aforementioned local landmarks, you have top quality independent retail, further fine dining and food markets, gym and exercise studios, street art, and music venues all within cat-swinging distance too.The first floor space at 168 Shoreditch High St totals 5,874 Ft2, the second floor, 5,876 Ft2, and both are available.Call us on 020 7101 2020 to arrange a viewing. Bring a cat.
eSports: from sofa to shopping centre?25 February 2020eSports: from sofa to shopping centre?
The stereotype image of the video gamer is someone rooted to a sofa while a TV flickers in a darkened living room or they’re up in their bedroom gazing fixedly at a PC screen while jabbing at mouse and keyboard.
However, it seems that video gaming is moving from solitary pastime to spectator sport with the emergence of ‘eSports’– and this is could be good news for property landlords.
Last year, the eSports market grew to $1.1bn. That was year-on-year growth of about 26% and the sector is forecast to jump up to around $2.3bn within three years according to Forbes. Growth is also being fuelled by the competitive nature of gaming: in 2019, Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite offered prize money of more than $100m for competitive tournaments.
And like mainstream sports, the best players of these games are also attracting an audience. First, this was through online platforms like YouTube and Twitch but now it’s moving to physical spaces ‘game arenas’ where you pay to watch and learn from the best players who are often competing as part of corporate sponsored teams.
And, like regular sports, if you prefer to play rather than watch there are smaller centres. In London this trend has seen the expansion of the Belong Gaming Arenas introduced by the retailer, Game, to sit alongside their traditional retail stores, and for Wanyoo to acquire their first UK gaming café on Charing Cross Road. Wanyoo is Asia’s largest gaming café chain with 1,000-plus cafes in more than 50 cities.
Revenue streams are driven by playing fees – typically £5-7 an hour – or the cost of admission if you’re watching your gaming heroes in arenas such as Gfinity eSports arena in Fulham Broadway. And, of course, there’s lots of scope for adding on food and drink offers.
On average, Wanyoo’s gamers stay in venues for 3-5 hours. While audience dwell times are shorter, the game developers are looking at how they can embed advertising in the same way that you have hoardings around a pitch in a televised football game with companies such as Bidstack bridging the gap between game developers and advertisers.
And the cross-fertilisation of the digital and real worlds doesn’t stop there: celebrities like Michael Jordan, Drake and Gareth Bale have made substantial investments into the eSports sector.
The good news for landlords is that these eSport centres don’t have any particular property requirements other than size; they have taken units on high street locations and shopping centres, and are not too precious about ground, first floor and basement spaces!
The global eSports audience is now estimated to be around 450m people and, of course, many of the gamers who cut their teeth on Counter Strike, Quake and SuperMario more than 20 years ago are still playing today so the sector has a strong demographic profile.
And, if you’re not sure that eSports are here to stay then consider this: they’re under consideration for inclusion at forthcoming Olympic Games.
Fuelling debate: will occupiers pay more for eco-friendly workspace?18 December 2019From the chairman of RIBA’s sustainability group to the mayor of New York City, there is a growing number of industry experts and public figures questioning the wisdom of building ever-more air-conditioned glass skyscrapers if the property sector and cities want take climate change seriously.
Even as far back as the late 1940s, the Swiss architect Le Corbusier was a vocal critic of the world’s first full air-conditioned glass tower, the UN Secretariat in New York, attacking it as unsuitable for the local climate. But the gleaming aesthetics took hold a city’s global credentials are often judged by the height and mass of its glittering skyline.
But the problems of regulating the temperature of glass buildings go back further than that, with a visit to London’s Crystal Palace a very different picture than the beautiful sketches we see depicting the Great Exhibition. The reality was of huge canvass curtains hanging around the interior to keep the giant greenhouse from overheating – something that proved horribly difficult to control – and blocking out much of the building’s glass aesthetic and natural light.
According to The International Energy Agency, the built environment produces around 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions, with the energy used on cooling alone now accounting for a chilling 14% of all energy use. As temperatures rise, so air conditioning needs to work harder, using not only more energy but increasing the wear and demand on systems with the likely result of shortening their lifespan.
As we have seen with the New Routemaster buses in London, the simple act of opening a window and letting in a breeze can be more pleasant, more reliable and more popular than air-conditioning, not to mention more eco-efficient. But the realities of big city noise and air pollution are an obstacle in applying this to many new office buildings, despite an estimated energy saving of around 60-70%.
We are conscious to plastic bags, excess packaging and littering the oceans, with changes in awareness bringing about major changes in habits. But what about the spaces we work in? The technology exists to build more energy-efficient buildings – and many landlords and developers we speak to in the early stages of their projects express an enthusiasm and desire in attaining a BREEAM rating – but the big question hanging over the conversation has been whether occupiers would care enough to put their money where their sustainably statements are. The latest research from CoStar answers that question with a resounding yes.
Over the last decade, BREEAM-rated buildings have attracted a significant premium, with an average increase in value of £374 psf since 2009, almost double the national market average of £196 psf.
The UK has around 1,700 office buildings with a BREEAM rating, with London hosting about half of them with just over 800 accreditations, making up about 3.5% of the Capital’s total office inventory. That percentage is the highest in the country and includes one of the world’s most sustainable offices, Bloomberg Place, where technology and innovation include smart ventilation, water conservation and half a million bulbs of efficient LED lighting.
In second place for numbers is the South-East with just over 150 buildings, although that accounts for just 1% of the total office inventory. In percentage terms it’s Wales that takes second place with 2.1%, followed by the North East and Northern Ireland, both around 1.5%.
It should be noted that these buildings are usually not 100-storey crystalline towers and tend to use materials other than glass and steel. But if we are to continue building upwards to cope with increased capacity, perhaps the answer lies in birthplace of the skyscraper, New York City. The origins of the world’s most recognisable skyline were in tall buildings of brick and stone that are no less striking than contemporary glass structures: no-one could accuse the Empire State or Chrysler Buildings of being inconspicuous or, in today’s terms, non-iconic. Could reinterpretations using the materials of then with the design of today and the technology of tomorrow be the solution to tall cities and high efficiency?
So if the demand is there and backed by hard evidence that occupiers will pay significantly more for an environmentally-friendly workspace, why are we not building more efficiently more often? Perhaps the missing link is simple awareness in the property sector. If more landlords and developers were aware of the financial opportunity of efficient buildings, surely an increase in delivery would follow? When looking at the increased amenity given to buildings to attract higher rents (gyms, wellness suites, cafes, lounges, terraces, etc), landlords have shown that they are all in.
As agents, we are uniquely positioned to convey the message. With such willingness among occupiers to pay a premium, yet with each UK’s region’s extremely low supply of BREEAM rated workspace, there is huge potential to not only build, but also to upgrade existing office space, in way that makes sound financial sense, delivers greater ecological rewards and lays the foundations of a sustainable future for expanding cities.
In short, a win-win solution.
Medical sector acquisition in Kentish Town11 December 2019Up in Kentish Town and just a couple of minutes’ walk from Hampstead Heath, we recently completed an acquisition for the medical innovator Second Skin on an industrial workspace on Gordon House Road, NW5.
The recently refurbished Spectrum House is a large three-storey factory building with a broad façade of white render and black window frames that gives no indication of what lies beyond, where multiple self-contained units in various sizes are arranged around a rear courtyard. In all, the development extends to around 48,500ft2 with the capacity for over 300 employees.
Mixing bright white décor with an industrial palette of hard edges – corrugated metal ceilings; black-painted steel columns; black doors and window frames – the aesthetic does a good job of capturing the essence of a warehouse workspace and is finished with rich oak parquet floors, suspended lighting and recessed kitchenettes in a modern grey with white metro tiles.
The development’s design allows tenants to keep their brand identity and independence while benefitting from a well-managed environment that includes 24-hour access, cycle storage and car parking spaces.
Second Skin has taken 1,236ft2 on the ground floor of Spectrum House. From here, the company will treat its clients in a variety of bespoke treatment rooms created from a tailored and DDA-compliant fit-out.
A lease was agreed for 5 years at a rent of £48 per ft2, with the fit-out costs and works borne by the landlord and a five-month rent-free period negotiated. Completion took place in early November.
Second Skin was founded in Perth, Western Australia in 1988 and is now the world leader in the design, manufacture and service delivery of custom made medical compression garments and dynamic splints for children and adults. The company has clinics in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK.
Office acquisition at AHMM-designed landmark in Southwark29 November 2019On behalf of GTI Media Ltd, we have acquired 2,845ft2 on the first floor of 240 Blackfriars Road, an AHMM-designed building at the junction of Blackfriars Road and The Cut in London SE1.
Constructed in 2014 by Great Portland Estates, 240 Blackfriars Road has completely redefined the immediate skyline and given new purpose to the busy intersection with Stamford Street and Southwark Street that connects Waterloo, London Bridge, Blackfriars and Southwark stations.
The large parallelogram form includes 220,000ft2 of high performance office space and sits like a giant crystal on the street, extruded up to 90 meters with cut away sections at street level and higher up to add to the public realm and to protect the views across the river.
The building’s glossy, glassy double height entrance façade gives way to voluminous lobby that recalls a contemporary art museum with lofty ceilings, subtle neutral tones and Jasper Morrison-designed Carrara marble benches scattered in seemingly random fashion in a modern interpretation of fallen columns at ancient archaeological sites
GTI Media has offices in London, Dublin, Oxford and New York. Formed around 30 years ago, the company is now the UK and Ireland’s leading provider of graduate and school leaver recruitment services including the UK’s largest graduate jobs website, the most-read careers publications on campus and holding events to increase work-readiness among students and help employers recruit early talent.
The company’s new offices on the first floor of 240 Blackfriars Road are at the southern end and look out over the street through full height full width angled windows that slope upwards and outwards from the building and into the air.
With its excellent architectural pedigree, sharp lines and responsive design, 240 Blackfriars has cemented itself as a successful local landmark and a striking addition to SE1’s ever-growing accumulation of high-quality commercial and residential architecture.
The postcode has undergone significant regeneration in recent years and has matured beyond its initial residential col-factor to become a destination office location with a distinctive local flavour including peerless London icons like Borough Market and Tate Modern, and with excellent connectivity to The City, West End, airports and beyond via Underground, Thameslink and National Rail
Colliers achieved a very reasonable rent on behalf of GTI Media Limited with a term until March 2024.
Sustainability requires collaboration14 November 2019The recent Extinction Rebellion protests and the debate around the sustainability of ‘fast fashion’ have put a growing numbers of retailers in the firing line for social activists.
H&M has a long track record of integrating ethics into its business notably with its ‘Conscious Collection’ line of clothing and also through its sustainable supply chain strategy. But during London Fashion Week one of its stores in the capital was the venue for a ‘Boycott Fashion’ protest.
The irony - and perhaps inappropriateness - of this was further emphasised shortly afterwards when H&M announced the launch of a new clothing rental service aimed at making premium items available at an affordable price and extending the use and lifecycle of garments.
H&M isn’t the first retailer to announce this sort of initiative - Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters, Scotch and Soda and Ann Taylor Loft have all launched subscription rental services this year - but the negativity that the company is facing from the anti-fashion lobby has left its CEO, Karl-Johan Persson, exasperated. In an interview with Bloomberg, he warned that curtailing fashion retailing “may lead to a small environmental impact, but it will have terrible social consequences”. Perhaps not surprisingly, this only enraged his opponents further.
Britons buy more clothing than any other European country, and its estimated that £2.7bn is spent fashion that they only wear once so it’s not surprising that retailing is increasingly under scrutiny. And, of course, property has a similar challenge: the built environment is responsible for almost half of all carbon emissions in the UK.
So where property and retailing come together in the form shops it’s clear that we can make a difference in terms of how those spaces are created and operated. In London, major landlords such as Grosvenor, Shaftesbury and The Crown Estate are leading the way in this respect and retailers are responding to their lead.
In this context, it’s perhaps not surprising that streetwear brand Napapijri felt that Shaftesbury’s Carnaby Street was the right setting for its first London store. The brand recently launched ‘Infinity’: a 100% recyclable jacket that’s been made using recycled fishing nets and which you can ‘trade in’ after two years of use.
Given changing attitudes in society there is tremendous opportunities for retail and property to collaborate on sustainable responses to what shoppers demand. Hopefully, this week’s MAPIC retail property exhibition will generate many ideas which can support this process.
Trying something new5 November 2019Josh Leon looks at whether big groups with under-performing sites should think about partnerships to unlock profits.
I went to a seminar organised by investment bank, Citi, recently that looked at investment trends in the F&B sector and inevitably in that environment and in the current climate, the conversation came up about big chains versus innovative independents - the latter increasingly outperforming the former.
In this context, it was great to have Billy Hookway from JKS and White Rabbit founder, Chris Miller, on the panel as, while very different, they share the same aim of achieving scale through repeated diversification rather than the more familiar tactic of simple replication. Both have finance or private equity expertise as a core part of the business but both are operators. Imbiba is another London-based investor/operator with multiple small brands under its banner. Perhaps this model could act as inspiration for some of the big chains which have the sites and the resources but seem to have run out of ideas - and customers.
It's undoubtedly more difficult to consistently come up with new ideas than it is to oversee a brand ‘roll-out’. However, if a business opens its door to new creative talent and sets itself up as investor as well as operator there is potentially an unlimited pool of ideas from which to choose.
It's certainly more in line with what customers want. Although restaurant groups have traditionally grown through faithful replication, the trend for some time has been for unique experiences. And that’s ultimately why we’ve seen so many of the big brands fail recently.
Of course, there will always be room for a limited number of brands that can sustain ubiquity and be controlled at board level with a competent operational management firmly in place. But we’ve now seen that - outside the fast food and coffee sectors - that approach is increasingly unsustainable.
The independent sector, as ever, is where the innovation is, and that is what the customer wants. The recent explosion of street food halls and similar formats are clear evidence of this- a response to demands for choice, quality and an experience- a reaction against boringness.
So how can big institutional money tackle this challenge? While a board of accountants may be able to oversee a process of faithful replication, growing a group while continuing to innovate is a completely different game and one you only get to play if you have the operational and creative expertise generally only found in the independent sector.
In London, for example, there are still numerous sites held by the big restaurant and pub groups that are considered ‘prime’ yet massively underperform in relative terms. This is to the detriment of customers, landlords and to the institutional owners of these businesses. Maybe it’s time for those groups to switch from ‘Operator Mode’ to ‘Investor Mode’ in certain cases. Instead of coasting along or selling the asset at a loss, perhaps they should first try partnering with an independent operator with proven success, who may hold the key to big profits but doesn’t have the funds for a big premium or the required capex.
In this scenario, everybody can win including landlords who retain the covenant strength of the ultimate owner of the asset. In due course, these owners may find themselves with a stable of small, agile and innovative partners to invest in and work with, providing sites, staff, and capex and taking a share of the upside. Deciding who to partner with is clearly the main consideration but if in doubt advice can be sought from people who know the sector intimately and have a firm grasp of the market.
Ultimately, as the trend increasingly veers towards independent talent, maybe that’s how the big money invested in the sector can ultimately get in on the action.
Right here, right now: plug’n’play space for immediate rental in Hatton Garden28 October 2019This third floor office space comprises 535ft2 and is a complete plug’n’play solution, supplied with a stylish contingent of complementing furniture and fittings including 8 fully cabled workstations, black mesh chairs, metal-framed room divider glass shelves, sleek LED lightboxes and comfort cooling units in anthracite. A sleek minimalist kitchen in gloss white with plenty of cupboard space blends into the white décor and a parquet wooden floor runs throughout the workspace.The building has a striking and classically-influenced exterior stone façade along with refurbished common parts featuring a beautifully restored original mosaic floor, which combine to create a sense of occasion and arrival. Additional facilities include refurbished WCs and a passenger lift.Two units at 6-7 Hatton Garden are occupied by the meeting room provider Breather who chose the building as one its London locations offering workspace and meeting room facilities at hourly and daily rates – perfect for an onsite solution if you’d like the facility to host larger meetings or events without a long-term commitment to more space.Hatton Garden has deep roots as a jewellery district and still retains a number of high end showrooms that keep its heritage alive. More recently an influx of design and media occupiers has given new energy to the street scene, creating a lively creative corridor between Holborn and Clerkenwell Road and home to the place-making Johnson Building by Derwent London.The location is just moments from the daily street food market on Leather Lane, the next street over to the west, and a firm favourite on the local lunchtime scene, while the rest of the immediate vicinity is packed with places from breakfast to bedtime and beyond.With the entrance to Chancery Lane Underground station (Central Line) at it’s southern tip, Hatton Garden is also just a few minutes walk from Farringdon station where Thameslink and three Underground lines are set to be joined by the new Elizabeth Line. This will create a pivotal Central London interchange and the only place where Thameslink and Crossrail intersect, as well as and the only station in the capital with direct trains to both Gatwick and Heathrow Airports.
Highly bright: 5-metre ceilings and wraparound glass at street level office25 October 2019Connecting Old Street roundabout to Angel, City Road has undergone a monumental transformation in the last few years, from a simple gateway to the City into an architectural corridor of residential and commercial towers.One of the most eye-catching is the 24-storey Canaletto building at number 259, designed by the renowned architectural practice UN Studio and a confident break from the norm with its curved cladding snaking around the exterior to create an arresting sight.The ground and lower ground floors are home to 6,850ft2 of B1 office office space in a single, self-contained unit that includes an extensive street frontage of full height windows that wrap around the entire external elevation and offer remarkable and highly visible prospects for branding. Inside, ground floor ceiling heights up to 5.3 metres allow the floor area to be increased and further dramatised with the installation of one or multiple mezzanines, while even the lower ground floor has a height of 3 metres.Sold in shell and core condition, the space features chunky concrete pillars around its perimeter allowing for an almost uninterrupted open plan floor plate, giving an ingoing business the freedom to create at will the space that fits its operation.259 City Road sits at the corner of Wharf Road, home to the Shoreditch location of Victoria Miro gallery and the approach road to the nearby Wenlock Basin and Regent’s Canal. The presence of so many galleries in the adjacent streets adds an artistic tone to the pervading creative buzz from the Tech City scene and proximity to Silicon Roundabout.Teeming with start-ups, fashion brands, architect firms, media and advertising companies,Hoxton and Shoreditch are now home to some of the globe’s most recognisable brands. As well as a local abundance of Victorian warehouses and workhouses, the neighbourhood has entered a new era through an influx of world-class architecture, offering some of the best contemporary workspace in London, such as 259 City Road.The office space is available as a virtual freehold and we are quoting offers in excess of £4,250,000, equating to £620 per ft2.
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