Can you explain how you got the idea behind Clubhouse?
We launched The Clubhouse in 2012 and that was born purely out of my need of this kind of space. My background is not in this sector at all, it’s actually residential property and before that I used to be in the city. I developed residential property for the best part of 15 years, and I found myself increasingly meeting my clients in hotel lobbies and coffee shops around Mayfair. I didn’t need an office in town, so I didn’t need a co-working space or a serviced office, but I needed somewhere that was smart and impressive to meet my clients which wasn’t a coffee shop, hotel lobby or typical members club. So the need was my own and today The Clubhouse fills that gap very neatly and is defined between a coffee shop and hotel lobby on the one hand and the serviced office and co-working space on the other.
What are your long
term growth plans for the business?
In my residential property days, I always saw London as this kind of group of urban villages, all very distinct personalities. So whether you live in Notting Hill or Shoreditch or Wandsworth, they are all very different areas. I think over the last few years, where people work has started to follow that path. So we want to build up a network of clubhouses across London in all the key areas where people work so our key members have got somewhere to drop into. So we started off in Mayfair, we have a clubhouse in St James, here in Bank and we are opening in Holborn next month. So that will be 4 Clubhouses but I think we could probably get up to 8 or 10 in the key work locations. Particularly as there has been some major infrastructure improvements in areas like Victoria and Kings Cross, so I would hope we will see a Clubhouse there very soon.
How do you establish the right office when opening a new Clubhouse location?
When we opened it was really based on my needs and six years on we have learned from our members. We have about 1000 members, from about 400 different companies and everything we do here is designed around the needs of our members. In fact, we have one aim which is simply; to make our members and their businesses more successful. One way that we are very different to how most co-working spaces operate is the level of service that with give. We are very hospitality driven and we get to know what the needs of our members are, either through just chatting to them or surveys that we do. So each Clubhouse is now designed around the needs of those members. Typically, we need about 10-12.5 thousand sq ft to make our model work and within that space we can really provide everything a member needs. What I mean by that, is providing a smarter, more flexible, more agile alternative to them having an office for themselves.
What was it about 20 St Andrew Street which drew your attention?
The next and 4th Clubhouse will open at 20 St Andrews Street and that will open at the end of June and again it’s really driven by the needs of our members. Our members are meeting clients all over London, they might be in Mayfair in the morning, they might be over in the City in the afternoon. So having somewhere in Holborn really has great advantage by putting somewhere in the middle. We then have a nice spread across central London from Mayfair and St James’s in the West, through to Holborn to the City. Transport connections are very key for us, because most people will look to meet someone where it is easy to get to. When Crossrail opens very soon you will be able to get to The Clubhouse in Mayfair just off Bond Street to Farringdon in no time at all and then through to Moorgate which is only a stones through from the Clubhouse at Bank. So you will be able to get from all extremes in about 10 minutes, which will be fantastic for our members.
Can you give us a sneak insight into how Clubhouse will look in 20 St Andrews St once work is completed?
At 20 St Andrews Street we will keep evolving what we are doing here, so everything we do is based around the needs of our members like I said, and we like to raise the bar each time in terms of design. At The Clubhouse bank we worked with Fletcher Priest, who did the external architecture of the building but also did the interior for us as well. We are also working with them on the interior of 20 St Andrews Street. It is a fraction smaller, it is 10 thousand sq ft over the top 2 floors, we have an amazing roof terrace at the top and we will be offering everything that we do in our other Clubhouses. That includes a large presentation room that can seat about 60 people and we have names that after two very prominent names in the area; Haywood, who designed Holborn Circus and Wren, who was responsible for re-building St Andrews Church. This follows a theme that we’ve got at various Clubhouses that we have. So for example the equivalent room over in the City is named after Soane and Baker, two architects that worked on the bank of England. We like to bring a bit of local history into our spaces. We will have a great room that can seat up to 60 people, presentation and theatre style. We will also have a deli offering a great selection of snacks, sandwiches and salads, which keeps our members fuelled when they are busy at work. As well as a range of meeting rooms, hot desks, lounges and really everything our members need while they are doing business in town.
Which location do you spend most of your time at?
It’s tricky because I love all of them, they are like my babies in a way, but I have tried to spend a fairly equal amount of time across all of them. Our main offices at the moment is in St James’ but I’m in the city a couple of days a week and I will certainly be spending some time at St Andrews Street.
Since opening in 2012 how has the London Office market changed in your eyes?
I think it has changed massively, as I have said The Clubhouse was born out of a need, it wasn’t something I researched and I didn’t predict the future of the office market. When we opened it was about the same time as WeWork opened their first building, we all know how they have gone on and now become the largest occupier in London. Really this is testament to how quickly businesses are now growing. When I had the idea back in 2008 and the light bulb moment took place a couple of things happened, the financial crisis set in and that was the biggest thing that gave all these aspiring entrepreneurs and especially lots of people that worked for larger corporate firms, the motivation to go out and set up their own business. So there are lots of frustrated business people and entrepreneurs out there who want to do their own thing but particularly when you are reaching your mid 30s/40s and if you have a family and a mortgage, it’s quite a big jump to go and set up your own business. So back in 2008/2009, the opportunity cost of that completely shifted and you had a lot of people that thought ‘right I’m not going to get paid how I have been paid before, I have got this great contact book, let me go and set up my own business. Also at the same time it was the birth of cloud computing, the iPad is only 10 years old, so suddenly you had the technology that supported the way in which people were thinking of working. So you had the demand, you had the technology but what wasn’t really there was a flexible alternative to an office that people setting up a business could use or people that had business outside of town and just wanted a remote base to attract the best people, to recruit or retain the best talent they could in London. I think that’s where The Clubhouse really fits in. Now because that technology has allowed people to work in a different way and people have realised and become accustomed to working in a different way, that is why we have seen such a growth in flexible workspace and collaborative workspaces. As well as the concept of meeting space and office space as a service, very much like a software is a service offering. So there has been a fundamental shift over the last few years, which is why flexible workspace is certainly not going to be anything temporary but it is going to be here for the long term. I think that is quite exciting because the choice is there. The number of flexible workspace providers in London is enormous, but yet 6 years on no one is really doing what we do here at The Clubhouse the way we do it.
Find out more about The Clubhouse