Serviced office provider UBC (UK) reports bumper demand for Birmingham serviced offices across its network, with its latest client taking less than a week to sign up.
Managing Director, Richard Johnson, runs seven business centres across the Midlands and South, from his Solihull Parkway HQ on Birmingham Business Park.
“Before COVID, our typical client would want two to five workstations, but we’re now consistently seeing enquiries for 15, 20 and even 30,” he says.
“These companies aren’t already operating in serviced office space, but without exception, they are looking to take advantage of break clauses, expiry dates or other lease events at their current offices to make their operating model more flexible.
“They don’t know what the year ahead might bring, and – despite the tremendous success of the vaccine rollout, and the various support packages announced in the Budget – they don’t wish to commit to long-term leases at the moment.”
Three months ago, KWB Director John Bryce shared Richard Johnson’s optimism that the sector would pick up during Q2, but admits the scale and speed was unexpected.
“The enquiry levels and underlying market conditions during November and into December indicated that an upturn was ahead, but seeing the number of deals for Birmingham serviced offices being completed in Q1, and across a range of sectors, is reassuring,” he says.
“If this momentum continues, and there’s no reason to think otherwise, I believe we’ll soon see companies that previously had 30,000 sq ft or even 40,000 sq ft looking to downsize, and then use remote working – either from home or serviced offices – to create more flexible models.”
UBC has a broad geographical spread, with business centres in Birmingham, Brentford, Cirencester, Fleet, Henley-in-Arden, Southampton and Warrington Birchwood, giving Richard Johnson a solid guide to sentiment across multiple sectors.
“In Southampton, a large publishing company wants significant space. In Fleet, it’s the regional arm of a major bank, and in Brentford, it’s a business operating in the travel sector,” he says.
“The single largest enquiry is at Warrington, where a client is negotiating to take up to 100 seats. Yes, there have been larger deals before COVID, but that’s a very sizeable letting given the year we’ve had.
“We just closed one deal on Birmingham Business Park when they came to view one day and had signed for their new serviced office space in less than a week. Such a timescale wasn’t unheard of before COVID, but in the context of the last 15 or 16 months, it certainly is.”