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Face of Stockport for Orbit Developments reflects on 10 years with company

Rhys Owen celebrates ten years with Orbit Developments in 2015 with a continued commitment to generating positive change in Stockport’s emerging business sector.

Initially joining the leading property development group as a Leasing and Marketing Assistant in 2004, Rhys has since developed his career to become a Leasing Surveyor, specialising in turning around challenging developments into success stories.

Now responsible for the Stockport portfolio including over 330,000 sq foot in 12 town centre buildings, Rhys has noticed a significant change in the property market over the last decade.

“The main difference is the change in size and scale of customers in general. Whereas we might have had one company occupying multiple floors in large buildings like Regent House, we are now dividing up space to provide more flexible deals for smaller, start-up businesses in order to evolve with the market.”

“The key is to listen to your customers in order to fully satisfy their requirements. If you’re not in the industry, the process can appear quite daunting at first – especially to those who have never taken office space before. As a result our customers don’t always know what they need and that is when I can utilise my property experience to help them identify their requirements.”

Starting out in the residential market, Rhys soon made the switch to commercial property and was tasked with managing Parkway Business Centre located south of Manchester city centre, as long-term customers MyTravel (formerly Airtours) vacated leaving behind 120,000 sq ft of space.

“We had to reposition the brand of the park and identify its selling points in order to get it full again – which we did with the addition of smaller, serviced offices, an onsite café and private shuttle bus for customers.”

Following the success of Parkway Business Centre, Rhys was then assigned with the task of developing Park Square in Cheadle, Stockport. Formally the headquarters for the international brand PZ Cussons, the property was close to vacant and required a comprehensive business strategy in order to fill the space.

“One of the issues we faced was that the area was predominantly known for its manufacturing credentials rather than office space, so we had to tackle people’s perceptions of the area and turn it into a business destination. We overcame this by adding unique features to the scheme such as an onsite café, conference facilities, golf course and bowling green to attract a new type of customer to the area.

“We relaunched the building in July 2011 and 18 months later the building was fully let with well-known brands including Christy, Jacobs Engineering and On The Beach.

After ten years Rhys is now heading up one of the largest projects to date, Orbit’s Stockport Town Centre portfolio. The challenge not only includes generating new activity and interest in the buildings themselves, but also trying to change the current perception of Stockport from visitors and business owners in the local and surrounding areas.

He continued: “The challenge in Stockport is slightly different to my previous projects as there is a high level of involvement required in improving the general perceptions of the overall area -not just raising the profile of our own properties. ”

“We have invested in our buildings to improve the environment our customers work in- especially our flagship Regent House on Heaton Lane, however we are also in dialogue with the council to help play a part in supporting local events and activities which bring people back into Stockport town centre and give them chance to realise what’s here and what’s changed.”

“People’s needs have changed and as a result the cost of office space isn’t the most important factor anymore. They look for flexibility and a landlord they can have confidence in. This ultimately starts with the Leasing Surveyor being clear and honest at the beginning of the process, but it’s important for the rest of the company to follow suit with these standards.

“One of the main reasons I’ve stayed at Orbit Developments is because of the company’s culture and principles matching my own. We ensure our customers can concentrate on their business and not left to worry about the office space – that’s our job.”

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