Despite a recession hit commercial property market, the outlook for Birmingham’s flexible managed space sector remains optimistic with many business centre owners announcing an increase in enquiries.
Property experts at the recent Business Centre Association (BCA) summit agreed that the commercial property market in Birmingham was the worst regional city-centre location to be hit by the recession. However, business centre operators at the convention reported a rise in enquiries from new and small businesses as well as corporates seeking to downsize or reduce costs.
Jennifer Brooke, executive director of the BCA comments: “More and more businesses in Birmingham have realised during this recession that for any location with fewer than 50 staff, serviced offices are the intelligent business solution, being generally less expensive and certainly more flexible than conventional office space.
“Feedback from BCA members has proved that the flexible managed space market in Birmingham remains reasonably robust, demonstrated by reports of an increase in the number of enquiries they have received as well as a number of serviced office providers, such as Orega, having just opened serviced offices in the Birmingham area this year.
“The easy in, easy out license agreements offer flexibility and peace of mind; giving total transparency on costs, unlike a conventional lease. This is essential during recessionary times.”
Flexible space provider, Executive Communications Centres, has performed well this year and managing director, Tony Waldron, credits the centre’s bespoke client services and purpose built locations to the company’s success.
Waldron explains: “We have three Birmingham business centres, two close to the airport and one in the city centre, and all have been highly successful this year. The number of enquiries we have converted has grown since last year, with the significant number of enquiries coming from large companies that have downsized.
“Despite the problems in the economy, we have not compromised our offering to our clients and continue to provide premium facilities, including bespoke services such as a complimentary uniformed chauffeur.
“There has been a trend for business centres to focus on the technology offering, which has proved successful for some operators. We have simply delivered on our promise to offer the highest quality in location, service and furnishings.”
City-based business centre, City Spirit St Pauls, has also defied the economic downturn, recently letting two of its largest offices and reporting a 90 per cent occupancy rate.
Anne Corstorphine, managing director of City Spirit agrees that a bespoke client offering is crucial to a successful business centre. She says: “We are committed to providing a tailored service-offering to our clients and as an independent business centre we are able to respond quickly to our clients’ feedback and needs.
“This year, we have focused on encouraging inter client networking to ensure all our occupants are able to share leads and do business with one another. Our clients have said that it is the additional services, such as networking events and an emphasis on service that gives serviced offices the edge over traditional lease premises.”
Despite an increasing number of enquiries for space, Birmingham’s serviced accommodation sector has been affected by the economic downturn as clients, especially those in the financial or recruitment sectors, reported negative results.
Corstorphine explains: “Certainly at the end of last year many flexible space providers in Birmingham experienced difficulties from the recession, especially those who had a large client base from the financial and legal sectors.
“At City Spirit we have seen a surge in the number of web-based and des