Opportunities Abound for Flexible Workspace Operators in the Midlands

Opportunities Abound for Flexible Workspace Operators in the Midlands


Across the UK, there is no shortage of business optimism. And while London is often the focal point of high performance business and economic indicators, regional towns and cities are delivering plenty of positive headlines. Indeed, the BCA's most recent MarketWatch report, released in July 2014, identified numerous highlights in locations up and down the country.

Furthermore, the latest CBI Labour Market report - combined with recent impressive GDP growth - continues to paint an optimistic picture of a healing UK economy. Specifically, the CBI report highlighted an increase in the number of people in permanent work, in every UK region apart from Wales. It also highlighted further growth in self-employment figures.

So where are some of the UK's brightest business hotspots?

A key area of Britain that's generating more than its fair share of positivity is the West Midlands. This part of the country now accounts for around 7% of the UK's gross domestic product, and has a local regional economy valued at around £96 billion.

Much of this development is led by Birmingham, which holds the largest concentration of businesses outside of London. Furthermore, last year, more companies were launched in Birmingham than any other UK city outside of London.

Numerous high-profile campaigns are in progress to attract inward investment, and parts of Birmingham are undergoing intense redevelopment as part of the 20-year Big City Plan. This includes the Birmingham Airport runway extension, New Street Station's £600 million redevelopment, the NIA's £26 million refurbishment, and a new Midland Metro line, among others.

The arrival of HS2 is also set to bring untold benefits to the area and generate a massive boost to the regional economy.

All of these projects suggest that the West Midlands is profiting from extensive investment and is already seeing enormous progress in its economic development. But are flexible workspace operators feeling the benefits?

The BCA's July 2014 MarketWatch report found that, despite intense business activity in Birmingham, conditions for operators are decidedly competitive. Companies looking for flexible workspace in Birmingham are often price-led, and are able to compare the growing number of business centres across the city in order to negotiate on price.

That said, the BCA's MarketWatch report suggests that some city centre workspace locations are beginning to see a gradual increase in rental values. With Birmingham continuing to attract high-profile businesses and startups, and with more intensive development on the cards, this could lead to more favourable conditions for operators over the coming year.

Furthermore, across the wider Midlands region, the latest Barclays and BGF Entrepreneurs Index report shows that 26.3% of companies are now considered high-growth. Given that these businesses are expected to significantly contribute to the local economy by the creation of jobs, investment and the use of local services, this again presents potential opportunities for flexible workspace operators.

Ultimately, the UK's second city is undergoing enormous development which is designed to enhance economic stability in years to come, but which is already having a positive impact. The 20-year Big City Plan is already well underway. Where could Birmingham's flexible workspace market be by then?

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