“Three years ago we were marketing commercial space in a town suffering from long-term under-investment,” says Leasing Director for Orbit Developments, Rhys Owen. “Today we have a very different story to tell.”
Six months into 2017 – 36 months since the town began to see the results of a £1 billion investment programme – Orbit Developments has experienced significant growth in leasing enquires across its 12-strong Stockport portfolio.
Several properties are now completely full following record-breaking years in 2015 and 2016, but what is proving interesting is the new type of customer being attracted to the town centre for the first time. The businesses attracted to the town are looking for the quality of workspace previously only seen in city centres, they are creating new demand for larger floorplates and are willing and have the ability to pay higher rents.
High quality, aspirational businesses – including several UK leaders in field – have relocated. And relocated in numbers.
Stockport now hosts Acuma Solutions Limited, part of the Saksoft Group, which is a leading specialist in information management and business intelligence. The company has relocated their Northern office to Stockport taking 4530 sq ft on the second floor in Applicon House, which is now fully let.
The centrally located, modern office complements Acuma’s sales operation in London and accommodates staff involved in digital transformation and information management projects across the UK and overseas.
Stockport town centre is also now home to Click Finance, a specialist brokerage providing secured and unsecured loans up to £100,000. The company relocated from Hazel Grove to better serve their growing customer base from a more easily accessible and central location. The company has taken 1400 sq ft on the 9th floor of Regent House, citing access to a high-quality talent pool for future recruitment as one of the main drivers for the move.
Wrightsure Insurance Group – one of the largest privately-owned insurance brokers in the UK – has also taken space in Regent House (see case study right) pushing occupancy levels in Orbit’s flagship office building up to 90%.
And relocating its national head office to Stockport is Creative Support – a high quality provider of health and social care services across England. The organisation recently moved into Wellington House, leasing the whole 18,000 sq ft, multi-storey building. Making the move from central Manchester – which had been its HQ location for the last 20 years – the leading not-for-profit agency said they chose Wellington House to better accommodate their people and services and to allow for growth.
And Travelodge celebrated a 30-year association with Greater Manchester by opening its first hotel in Stockport in January, as part of an expansion plan of seven new hotels across GM that will create 200 new jobs in the area. The 86 room hotel was the hotel chain’s 19th to open across Greater Manchester and is located within Orbit’s Regent House.
Quality, of course, comes in all sizes. This is why Orbit has been able to accommodate a range of other professional services and health businesses moving from smaller offices – sometimes from district centres, into smart, town centre environments, with room for growth.
Rhys Owen again: “Our customers tell us that the investment and improvements made to the town make Stockport a more appealing place to work, which in turn helps with the recruitment of new staff.”
“The fantastic mix of food and drink outlets, shopping and accommodation amenities on our doorstep means businesses are in a better position to attract and recruit skilled and quality staff who in turn will contribute to and benefit from the new and improved leisure economy around them.”
“And it’s not just about the big ticket items like Stockport Exchange and Redrock. Every business that chooses Stockport town centre will increase footfall and generate additional spend in the independent retailers, cafes and restaurants, so the local economy directly benefits from an increase of the number of businesses in the town.”
Orbit’s SKone scheme, which launched three years ago, is designed to encourage local spending in independent retailers with free discount cards available to all 3000 tenants and employees working within Orbit’s Stockport town centre properties.
With over 80 offers at any one time, the card has attracted deals from Robinson’s Brewery Visitor Centre, new café outlets like Rosie’s, Dom’s Sandwich Factory, Stockport Health and Fitness Centre and Perfume Essence. The card is supported with a dedicated website, monthly e-newsletter campaigns, posters and banners throughout properties.
Rhys concluded: “Build it and they will come is often cited around big infrastructure investment and Stockport is no different. Changes we see now of course started years ago in conversations in businesses, including ours, and within council walls to do more than build property. The vision was to rebuild some pride in place. The investment and enhancements that we’re now seeing is playing a huge part in attracting new, successful companies to the town, which will surely help drive its whole future economy.”