Most popular office space locations for small businesses
Following a recent investigation into enquiries for office space, in which Birmingham topped the bill, we’ve taken another look at our officebroker.com enquiry levels to find out which areas of the UK are proving to be the most popular – this time for small businesses.
Small businesses currently account for over half of the UK’s private sector employment. That’s a massive ┬ú1,653 billion. It’s no wonder that small businesses are often called ‘the lifeblood of the economy’.
Here at officebroker.com we get hundreds of requests every single week from businesses searching for office space. They range from large corporations seeking to move thousands of employees, to start-up enterprises looking for office space for one or two people. With small businesses in mind, we examined enquiries that came in over the first few weeks of June, for requests of between 1 and 3 workstations.
Results showed that yet again Birmingham topped the list – followed in hot pursuit by Manchester. Office space locations in Luton, Cambridge and Edinburgh also made it into the top 5.
Graph showing Top 5 most popular office space locations (excluding London) for small businesses in June 2009
Birmingham and Manchester are often high in the popularity stakes. However we’re noticing a definite shift in workstation size, as more and more small businesses and the self-employed are looking to move into office space to grow their business. This could be proof that the current economy is finally turning a corner. Ironically, this could also be due to employees who face redundancy as a result of the recession, and who are looking to turn the situation to their advantage by starting up on their own.
This theory is backed up by Fiona Spruce, officebroker.com expert for Birmingham and the West Midlands, who said: “The market is much more positive. We’re getting a lot of enquiries from clients who currently work from home and want to move into a physical office.”
According to our enquiry levels, around one third of Birmingham’s enquiries were based in the city centre, while the rest were based in out-of-town locations including West Bromwich, Henley-in-Arden and Tamworth. In fact, Tamworth also received high levels of enquiries in our last report. We believe this is partly due to its excellent transport links, and close proximity to major roads including the M42, M6 and A5. As a result, access to Birmingham is relatively easy by road or rail.
As a traditionally less expensive location, Tamworth is likely to appeal to the smaller business that is looking to save money while still being in an accessible location.
In addition, Tamworth has received positive press recently as the target for a commercial development master plan. The town’s council, in partnership with the private sector, is looking to increase office space in one of the most significant schemes of its kind in the Midlands. In an article by the Birmingham Post, John de Kanter, InStaffs chief executive, said: “There is a great deal of potential in Tamworth for investors, and our priority has to be to work with the council and the property industry to attract new business and investment into the town centre.” He also added, “The opportunity is there to provide the services that people are going to need.”
However, for our 2nd placed Manchester, enquiries for the city centre were much stronger than Birmingham, taking up over half of all enquiries. Once known for its canals and mills, Manchester has reinvented itself as a dynamic city bustling with modern architecture. Being based in the city centre holds many advantages, not least easy access by public transport and proximity to competitors. Also, having a city centre business address can project a more successful image, something which often creates an excellent first impression.
Andrew Quigley, officebroker.com’s expert for Manchester and the North-West, has noticed a significant change in enquiries for the region: “Manchester is really popular right now, and we’re getting a lot of interest from self-employed or small businesses.” Andrew reported that many individuals contacting him for office space are using the recession to snap up a bargain in the city centre.
However, not all companies need to be in the city centre, and a key factor when choosing a new location is the type of business you’re in. Some will strive to be in the centre in order to join their competitors and be in close proximity to their clients. For example, Birmingham has a large network of solicitors and law firms, so it was no surprise to receive enquiries last week from solicitors who wanted to set up a small amount of office space in the city centre. Others may find that the outskirts serve just as well.
In a business report by BBC News, small companies were urged to consider the type of business they were in, and how this reflected where they needed to be. “Consider whether proximity to main roads, train lines or airports is likely to be important to customers, employees, suppliers or business contacts.” In addition, the report went on to highlight that struggling areas “may have an oversupply of vacant property at low cost, but may not offer the best prospects for your business.” This is especially worth considering now, when the recession is encouraging businesses to look for bargains in prime areas that they wouldn’t normally consider. While you may be looking at a great deal on paper, take time to consider whether the location is ultimately the best one for your business – to avoid facing another relocation 6 months down the line.
If you’re a small business seeking office space, and you’re looking for advice on which area is best for you, contact us at officebroker.com for free impartial advice. We can help you price up your options and secure the deal and location that best suits you and your business. Visit officebroker.com to perform a search, or contact us direct to let us do the searching for you. Our services are free, so don’t hesitate to give us a try.