London Office Market: i2’s Mel Efstratiou Speaks Out
Mel Efstratiou, General Manager of Sales for i2 Office in London, discusses the current state of the market and how this has been influenced by the weak economy, as well as providing insights into life as a General Manager.
i2 Office, which currently operates six business centres around the UK, has had a busy year so far with the launch of a new centre in Leeds, a second location in the City of London, and another new centre in Greenwich near the 02 Arena. The company’s current focus is on the London City market and, according to Mel, this is down to the variety of enquiries and level of demand for space in the capital.
“London has always been a very busy and competitive market and receives a large number of enquiries on a daily basis,” said Mel. “The quality of enquiries in London varies hugely and one of the key things about London is to ensure you have a close network of brokers and agents that you can rely on for quality leads.
“If you provide a product that is excellently located, well run, smart and reasonably priced, you will always be able to place clients.”
Commenting on their City of London serviced offices, Mel says that there is “no one type of client or industry that dominates” but instead there is a spectrum of businesses – from start-ups right through to international corporations – and one of the most interesting parts of her role is liaising with clients and finding out what is important to them.
“Having said that, serviced offices in the City tend to attract those involved in the financial services sector and affiliated businesses,” she said, “but what is so exciting about our type of industry is that it is so varied, you deal with lots of different clients and get exposure to so many different types of businesses.”
However although the product continues to appeal, Mel says that the weakening economy “has made clients much more cost conscious” – but she says that this is not necessarily a problem for the serviced office industry as larger companies are now switching from conventional, long-term leases in favour of serviced space.
“Over the last couple of years we have seen more enquiries from companies who, prior to the economic downturn, would have gone down the more traditional leasehold route,” she says. “Companies are recognising that in times of economic uncertainty, the flexibility and cost efficiency of a serviced office is better for their business and allows them to only pay for what they use without the expense and hassle of fit-out, maintenance and space they don’t need.
“Clients are also recognising value – as long as you put together a reasonably priced, fair deal with obvious value they are generally happy.”
Speaking about the rewards of being a General Manager, Mel says that she enjoys getting to know the clients after they have moved in. “You meet lots of new people on a daily basis and youΓÇÖre always busy so you never get bored!” she says.
“It’s an extremely competitive industry which can be a challenge and you’re often dealing with many decision making factors that are outside of your control. Clients do try and negotiate and as a sales person I always find it difficult to walk away from a deal, but it’s important to have faith in your product and the value of it and walk away if you need to.”
Customer service continues to play a vital role in the industry and Mel has found that one of the recurring messages from their clients is that they feel “well looked after”, from the initial tour right through to moving in and during their tenancy. In fact it was this wealth of happy feedback that formed part of Mel’s decision to join i2 Office.
“We have great centre managers who always go the extra mile for our clients,” she says. “Our clients also say how much they like our cost transparency and the simplicity of our terms of service – speak to any of them!”
Mel Efstratiou, General Manager, Sales for London at i2 Office, joined the company earlier this year with over five years’ experience in serviced office sales. With the addition of new sites in London for i2 Office, Mel plays a key role in the company’s continuing expansion.
Compiled with the help of Kursha Woodgate from Mexia Communications.