What was The Buzz in April?

Our monthly roundup of real estate industry news.

Here are a few of the stories that caught our attention in April. From House of Fraser’s £132m makeover to a growth in flex offerings by Industrious, GPE, Grosvenor and Savills, it’s clear where London’s CRE industry is focusing its attention right now.

Oxford Street’s empty House of Fraser store is getting a £132m makeover

Everybody loves a comeback, and 318 Oxford Street is making theirs in the form of a gargantuan glow-up that will see the empty ex-department store transformed into a vibrant mixed-use development. The renovation is costing a staggering £132 million and is set to be completed in the next 12 months.

The development – set to be called ‘The Elephant‘ – will boast 366,00 sq ft of space spread across eight stories. Floors one to seven will be taken over with swanky office space, whilst the ground floor will be kitted out with a series of shops, a private gym and a 25m swimming pool. The newly-built eighth floor will be home to a rooftop restaurant and terrace, offering panoramic views across the city.

The renovation is due to be completed next year, despite the structural issues they’ve faced. The building suffers with ‘Regent Street disease’ – a problem that many early 20th century buildings with steel columns clad in masonry are affected by. Project Managers of the redevelopment, MGAC, are determined to preserve and enhance the iconic building, and are trying to maintain as much of the building’s original structure as possible.

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Grosvenor to convert 300,000 sq ft (20% of its portfolio) to flex & fitted workspace

Grosvenor is building a 300,000 sq ft of flexible and fitted workspace portfolio by transforming c20% of its existing office properties across London and other major cities.

Meeting a rise in occupier demand for premium flexible and fitted offices backed by a distinctive service, Grosvenor has opened 18 new locations in the last year, taking its total portfolio to c135,000 sq ft across 20 sites, with each leasing ahead of expectations.

In London, Grosvenor’s aim is to create exceptional flexible office spaces which are easy to occupy and ideal for modern hybrid working. Impressive design and generous layouts are complimented by staff, often from a hospitality background, providing occupiers and their customers with premium concierge and reception support. This is backed by simple membership offers which encompass rent, business rates and service charges, as well as secure WiFi, meeting room use, cleaning and maintenance services.

Alongside the business’ established operation in Eccleston Yards, 25EP, Grosvenor’s new locations in the capital include 128 and 162 Buckingham Palace Road and Fivefields in Victoria as well as 50 Grosvenor Hill, 34 Brook Street and 35 Grosvenor Street in Mayfair each providing private offices hosting from 2-60 people, meeting rooms and hot desks.

Eleven new fitted suites capable of hosting up to 50 people have also opened in Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol in the last 12 months.

James Raynor, CEO, Grosvenor Property UK said: “The flight to quality is as true for flex as it is for traditional office space. We see a significant opportunity in bringing together the right teams, products and services to deliver a premium offer that provides occupiers with the choice and flexibility that they are looking for.”

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Savills expands Workthere offer with flex leasing acquisition of Situu

This month Savills has expanded its flexible office specialist Workthere with the acquisition of market leading flexible advisory business, Situu.

Established in 2019 by its four co-founders: Dan Brown; Tom Leahy; Peter Hall and Harry Murphy, Situu is now a 10-strong London based agency who specialise in the delivery and marketing of managed office space on behalf of landlords. In addition, the firm secures serviced, managed and leased space for occupiers and serviced office operators across the capital. At Savills, Situu will be combined with Workthere, adding to its existing flexible office advisory service for occupiers, operators and landlords, creating a fully comprehensive offer that operates across the entire flexible office spectrum.

Cal Lee, Global Head of Workthere said: “This acquisition responds to a structural change in office leasing markets and the growing need to provide specialist flex advisory services to landlords, investors and operators, as well as occupiers in this growing sector. Workthere and Situu have complementary strengths, with Situu focussed very much on the flex managed leasing market which, combined with our existing occupier services and leasing offer at Savills, will allow us to offer a broad, best in class, flex advisory for clients. We are looking forward to progressing this strategy with Situu on board.”

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GPE hires new talent to deliver continued flex growth to more than 1 million sq ft

GPE announces three new senior appointments to support the existing team to deliver on its ambition to grow their flex portfolio to over 1 million sq ft, up from 0.5 million sq ft today. The addition of this in-house capability will enhance both the speed and quality of delivering best-in-class workspaces, whilst optimising costs.

Felicity Roocke joined as Head of Workspaces – Design & Delivery on 1 April. Felicity brings a wealth of experience in the world of flexible workspaces, having held roles as the Head of Design at Fora and Principal at Hassell, an award-winning design practice. She has over 20 years of experience as a Designer in the UK, creating agile award winning, people focused workspaces.

Chris Stokes has been appointed as Head of Customer Experience for Flex Workspaces from 7 May. Chris joins GPE from The Instant Group, where he has held roles as Operations Director and Client Services Director for over 10 years, having previously also worked for NEST as their Head of Facilities. Chris brings with him extensive knowledge on how to create great customer experiences.

Trevor Phyo has been appointed as GPE’s Senior Development Manager. Trevor joins the business from Fora, where he was Head of Development and his role led on acquiring, developing and delivering high-quality workspaces, throughout London and the UK. Trevor will join GPE in June to focus on Flex and HQ projects.

“I am delighted to be welcoming Felicity, Chris and Trevor to GPE. Our mission is to be the London property company that “owns” experience, and their collective skills will be instrumental in delivering our best-in-class workspaces across the capital. With our customers’ needs constantly evolving, it is important we reflect the right changes within our team structure to ensure we hit our target of delivering more than 1 million sq ft of Flex space in Central London, whilst also maintaining our market leading Net Promoter Score. We look forward to welcoming all the new talent to the team at GPE,” said Nick Sanderson, Chief Financial & Operating Officer.

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Industrious takes over former WeWork space in Moorgate

Flexible workspace provider, Industrious, has taken more than 70,000 sq ft at Royal London Asset Management Property’s 131 Finsbury Pavement scheme. The space will be the sixth, and largest, UK location for the flexible workspace provider.

The site, which was formerly occupied by WeWork, overlooks Finsbury Square and is fully furnished, providing a variety of workspace options including hot desks, dedicated desks and private offices. On-site amenities include an arcade room, meeting rooms, event space, bike storage and showers. Industrious will retain some of the building’s existing tenants and incorporate its own branding while upgrading the building.

Sam Beldam, asset manager at Royal London Asset Management Property, said: “We are really looking forward to working with Industrious at 131 Finsbury Pavement and transforming it into an improved and successful modern service offering. Royal London Asset Management Property is pleased to support Industrious’ European expansion plans and excited to grow our exposure to this evolving sector of the office market.”

Tom Redmayne, managing director and head of Europe at Industrious, added: “We are incredibly excited to open our latest Industrious at 131 Finsbury Pavement as we look to double down on London as a core part of our European network strategy. Royal London Asset Management’s building will greatly complement our existing City locations at 70 St Mary Axe and 77 Coleman Street, that have been two of our top performing units globally, and allow us cater to the pent up flex demand that we are seeing in the market from both local and global businesses.”

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