OT speaks to Tim Giles, CEO of London Executive Offices (LEO), ahead of the launch of their new serviced office location Octagon Point, St Paul’s in Central London.
When it comes to five-star serviced offices, London certainly doesn’t come up short. From Landmark Plc’s luxury portfolio and Kensington Pavilion’s high-spec members’ club, to Michelin-standard dining and workspace at 12 Hayhill, the capital is threaded with exquisite serviced office experiences.
One operator that has carved a significant slice out of the luxury sector is London Executive Offices (LEO), which now manages over 700,000 sq ft of high-spec serviced office space across 32 business centres in London.
Prior to its creation in 2014, LEO was formerly known as Executive Offices Group – an established London operator with a string of brands under its name, including the exclusive ‘Argyll’ collection.
Explaining the company’s re-branding and transition process, CEO Tim Giles said: “We wanted to offer the very best five-star serviced office product, but we had five different brands at the time and we felt the message wasn’t clear enough.”
At the point LEO was launched 18 months ago, Tim had already been with the company for 18 years. He joined Executive Offices Group in 1996 from Lambert Smith Hampton, and proceeded to work his way up and across the business in sales, marketing and development, later joining the board of directors. He became CEO in 2013.
This breadth of experience equipped Tim with the knowledge and vision to further grow the company, leading to its eventual re-positioning from the “crowded mid-market” tier of serviced office space into a top of the range product. And according to Tim, this approach is working.
“Our current occupancy levels are between 87-90%,” he said. “Most clients sign for 12 months, yet their average length of stay is three years. They tend to renew two or three times over.”
Like many flexible workspace operators, LEO doesn’t have a ‘typical client’ – they range from small well-funded businesses to FTSE 100 firms. Yet demand for high-spec workspace has been rising steadily and attracting interest from a widening pool of businesses.
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“Demand for this style of space really kicked off in the last five years or so. Even during the recession of 2008-10 our occupancy didn’t drop too low,” said Tim. This may be surprising, given the financial difficulties faced by businesses at the time. However, he attributes their relatively positive performance during the downturn to a genuine need for well-managed space.
“In the early days of serviced offices, short-term office space was hidden away in poor quality properties. One of the reasons the sector started was due to a need for good quality flexible workspace in prime locations.”
As for LEO, Tim cites three main factors that contribute to their success: “We use great, iconic buildings, re-fitted and furnished to very high standards. We use market-leading IT and telecoms and expanded bandwidth from essensys, and we have extremely high standards of customer service, which is evident in our client loyalty.”
As for the company’s current growth and expansion plans, LEO has just announced a new serviced office centre at Gloucester Place in Marylebone. It is also set to cut the ribbon of its prestigious new location Octagon Point, St Paul’s, 5 Cheapside, on Thursday 4th February.
Formerly known as ‘The Sugar Building’, having been bought and redeveloped by Lord Sugar’s company, Amsprop, Octagon Point has since been fully redeveloped from an ugly concrete-clad building into a sleek, contemporary landmark. On the inside, LEO has carried out a complete re-design of the space, which totals over 40,000 sq ft.
Looking further ahead, Tim cites plans for further expansion opportunities in key parts of London – including City, Midtown, Mayfair, and Knightsbridge – and also intends to focus closely on the Marylebone region. All things considered, LEO has made a positive start to 2016 and the rest of the year holds great promise for more announcements to come.
*Image taken from LEO’s Facebook Page