Property giant British Land has made a big play in the booming ‘flexible office’ market

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Business Insider / Thomas Colson

LONDON – Property giant British Land has started catering to the booming demand for “flexible” office space with the launch of a new brand, as it tries to capitalise on changing tastes and priorities in the London market.

The FTSE 100-listed firm, which manages a £19.1 billion portfolio, has launched a brand called Storey which will provide short-term office space for companies employing between 20 and 70 people in its three London campuses.

The launch represents an ambitious move by a traditional property firm into a market currently dominated by the trendy offerings of firms such as Workspace and WeWork, with demand for flexible workspace in London soaring.

Last week WeWork signed a deal to take 280,000 square feet of co-working space in Southbank, and this week US private equity firm bought a majority stake in The Office Group which valued the London-based flexible office firm at £500 million ($630 million).

Chris Grigg, British Land’s chief executive, said the brand was launched as political and economic uncertainty pushes companies to shorter and more flexible leases.

British Land’s Head of Operations, Joff Sharpe, said Storey will cater to both big firms seeking additional space and to smaller firms who have outgrown the “co-workspace” offered by rival brands.

“There are a lot of co-working spaces and incubators focused on the one, two, or even ten person tech company. But the SME seems to be surprisingly under-serviced,” he told Business Insider.

“A lot of the incubator type operations curate a sort of community. If you’re just starting, you probably appreciate having a community provided for you. But if you’re running a business of thirty or forty people, you’ve got your own suppliers and your own customers. You’re a different and more mature business, and you need a different space.”

Sharpe said the brand has an advantage over its competitors because it owns the property involved – rather than having to lease it – and already has a campus with coffee shops, gyms, and restaurants.

An initial 80,000 square feet of flexible space will be offered across British Land’s three London campuses at Broadsgate, Paddington Central, and Regent’s Place, and an additional 80,000 square feet of space has been earmarked for the rest of the year.