[caption id="attachment_3529" align="alignleft" width="296"] I:Centre, Bucks Biz[/caption]
Last August we caught up with Dominic Muscat of Bucks Biz in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, to find out more about their portfolio of flexible workspace.
At the time, Bucks Biz was enjoying its "highest level of interest ever" and the firm had recently taken on two new buildings at its MK:ONE site.
Dominic explained that clients valued the fresh decor and health club feel of the workspace which was a key factor in the continued growth of the Bucks Biz portfolio. However, there were challenges to overcome - and one of the biggest trials they faced was the potentially crippling effect of Empty Property Rates (EPR).
So more than six months on, how is Bucks Biz faring in 2014?
"2014 started with a bang for us, we were so busy getting space ready for new clients that we worked right through the Christmas break," commented Joe Muscat, Dominic's father and business partner. "We are committed to the Milton Keynes area and we have big plans for 2014 across our three sites."
Those plans include a £1million refurbishment project at MK:TWO, a new channel for Bucks Biz in the form of collaborative workspace and a rebranding exercise.
The large-scale refurbishment plan for MK:TWO, which has been renamed Bletchley Business Campus, is designed to enhance the overall look and feel of the site.
"We want to bring it in line with I:CENTRE, our very popular business hub at Newport Pagnell," said Dominic. "This centre has a health club feel which consistently receives great feedback. It has gyms for clients and also for public access, which is a great perk and has proven very popular with both new and existing clients.
"Such is the level of demand that I:CENTRE is currently fully let on what we have developed, and we're expanding our plans for the building to accommodate more businesses."
MK:ONE is also nearing full occupancy. However because of the current Empty Property Rates (EPR) legislation, Bucks Biz has stalled its plan to purchase more buildings within Milton Keynes for the time being.
Empty Property Rates are a constant threat and one over which businesses like Bucks Biz have little control. The BCA has helped to secure several victories in the battle against EPR, but the threat is far from over. As such, it is still a high priority for the BCA and will remain so until a more sensible and business-friendly taxation level is achieved.
Dominic is timing the refurbishment programme and renaming of the centres with a number of other changes across their sites, including the introduction of new collaborative workspace at Bletchley Business Campus (formerly MK:TWO) and I:CENTRE.
"Coworking is a great idea, and we already have a fantastic community vibe at I:CENTRE which we intend to build on with a new open-plan shared workspace area," said Dominic.
"We are aiming for a community-led campus approach, which partly influenced our decision to rename MK:TWO to Bletchley Business Campus. Our coworking spaces will be made available to existing clients too, who may appreciate the opportunity to work in a more informal environment where they can exchange ideas with other business owners."
With this plus many other plans in the pipeline for 2014, Bucks Biz has a clear strategy in place and is delivering a range of flexible workspaces that are hitting the right notes with local businesses. With so much positive progress in six short months, Bucks Biz is a prime example of the opportunities available and the enormous feats that can be achieved within our industry.