National serviced office company reports a significant rise in average length of occupation

Abbey Business Centres announces that the average stay, per client, at its 13 centres across the UK is now 30 months, which is up approximately 10 per cent on 2007.

“Even with office clients being more price conscious, our 2008 figures will show an increase in average occupation figures,” said Julie Calder, managing director.

“Consequently, it is likely that Abbey Business Centres will at least maintain the profit of £2.3 million it delivered in 2007.”

The occupation trend is being reflected across the sector. A recent examination of occupation figures by the BCA (Business Centres Association), showed that the average stay for office space occupiers signing a three-month contract tended to remain in situ for more than three years.

Ms Calder continued: “Because they have always appealed to new and expanding companies, the average length of stay at a business centre has been traditionally lower than in the mainstream office market, where people sign up for five years or more – but we seem to be catching up.

“Generally it was perceived that our clients would come and stay for a short period of time, but that has never been the case. These figures now prove that the time people spend in serviced offices is increasing even more.

“Business centres account for only circa 3 per cent of total office space so there is still room for major growth, especially as the recession is tearing up so many of the old rule books.

“Leads and inquiries are up on last year and established clients are staying longer either because they like where they are or because they are wary of taking on the responsibilities and commitment of a conventional office lease. The all-in charging structure of serviced offices helps them budget, which is a comfort in these difficult times.”

Ms Calder denied that the all-in charging structure made serviced offices expensive pro rata. She said: “That perception was shattered when the Chartered Institute of Purchasing Supply carried out a detailed comparison and concluded that for firms with up to 50 staff, business centres were actually less expensive than conventional offices.

“Anyone interested in a conventional lease just now will be offered some fantastic perks like extended rent-free periods but they will still be required to enter an agreement that commits them for several years.”

“people always forget to add in rates, service charge, utilities, furniture, telephone lines, light bulbs, toilet rolls, all the things we provide which they take for granted.”

Ms Calder also added that business centres attracted more than just start ups and branch office operations. “Our clients include Telefonica, O2, Virgin Money, Shell, Experian. Barclays and Laing O’Rourke,” she added.

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