Try To Look Beyond Postcode Snobbery
LOCATION, location, location: the old maxim is as potent as ever, but with London now a property patchwork of micro markets, are companies missing a trick by overlooking cheaper nearby districts?
Having the right address is seen by many companies as a corporate badge of success. It impresses clients and being in a cluster group is helpful for business. Financial services companies, whether hedge funds in Mayfair or banks in the Square Mile, are the most likely to insist on “old school” locations.
Insurance companies, for example, like to be in the Lloyd’s Triangle ΓÇö formed by Houndsditch, Bishopsgate and Leadenhall Street ΓÇö even though occupancy costs can be significantly lower a mere one or two Tube stops away.
Waterloo and London Bridge, previously seen as “spill-over” locations stand out as good value, according to Jim Venables, officebroker.com’s managing director.
“EC4ΓÇöSt Paul’s and Fleet Street is an area in demand, with average workstations costing up to ┬ú750 per person compared with ┬ú300 across the river in SE1.
“We are also have good deals in St John’s Wood, Bayswater and Islington. All these locations have good transport links and amenities and the quality of office space is improving.”
IT and media companies led by a new breed of directors are the most open-minded when it comes to location, adds Venables.
Without doubt new creative hubs are springing up across London as media and design companies abandon the industry’s traditional heartland of Soho and Covent Garden.
Of the 144 advertising agencies in London, 55 have Wl postcodes, while 15 are based in WC1 and 14 are in WC2.
Already the drift east has helped revitalise Clerkenwell and Shoreditch, and now the same is happening to districts in south and west London such as Southwark, Deptford, Hammersmith and north Kensington.
Creative businesses tend to operate on lower margins than professional services such as multi-national law and accountancy firms so they actively seek out and “make” the next hot place. Hoxton during the dotcom boom was a classic example.
“London is full of creative nooks and crannies,” says David Rosen of estate agent Pilcher Hershman, which has been instrumental in the move of art galleries and advertising agencies to places like King’s Cross and Spitalfields.
“Usually, creatives are the first to discover tough inner-city areas. They like the authenticity and the interesting buildings,
and the vibe they bring attracts other homebuyers and businesses.”
According to Creative London, part of the London Development Agency, the SE1 riverside stretching from the Design Museum at Tower Bridge to Tate Modern at Blackfriars Bridge is home to creative and cultural businesses that generate more than ┬ú600 million in annual revenues.
Creative London has identified 10 geographical areas outside central London. The thinking is that creative companies improve the image of an area, which boosts broader economic activity.
Mother, a leading ad agency, recently left the West End for designer offices in Shoreditch, where rents are about ┬ú20 to ┬ú25 per sq ft. In Deptford, where there are plans to expand the existing creative quarter around the Laban dance centre, rents are less than ┬ú12 per sq ft.