It’s an open secret that businesses in the Bristol area are struggling to find suitable commercial accommodation, and the problem is especially acute in the city centre – with grow-on space in particularly short supply.
That’s according to Paul Williams at Bruton Knowles’ Bristol office, who says the tight market is creating particular problems when businesses are looking to expand or re-locate.
He said: “Many SMEs are finding it difficult to source cost-effective office space in the city centre due to the conversion of so much of the city’s office space to residential use, and although this trend has not affected the out of town business parks on the North Bristol fringe, this area too has seen a drop in supply of available space over the past couple of years.
“Because firms in this category do not generally have their own in house property team or specialist, we are often called in to help steer businesses into the accommodation that best matches their needs.
“For instance, although commercial properties are typically marketed on the basis of their size, people can’t generally visualise what an office of 2,000 sq ft or 5,000 sq ft actually looks like until they start to look around different buildings, but because we deal with these matters day in and day out, we can help to define their requirements based on head count and other factors, potentially saving them significant amounts of otherwise wasted time in the process. The shape and internal layout of a building will also affect how much space is required to accommodate a given number of people.
“It’s fundamental to establish whether any potential new property is the right size and configuration not only for their immediate needs, but also to allow sufficient flexibility for their future growth and development.
“On the other hand, nobody wants to find themselves in a building which is far bigger than their requirements, adding unnecessary cost to their overheads in terms of rent, business rates, and service charges.”
Paul Williams said the region needs all its present commercial space and more if it is to keep pace with the increasing numbers of businesses looking to expand their operations. Future products, ideas and innovation are crucial to economic effectiveness and to encourage and attract business investment requires quality commercial space.
With established offices in Bristol, Gloucester and Worcester, Bruton Knowles’ Commercial team believe a regional perspective is vital in understanding opportunities in the fast-developing logistics and communication hubs along the M4 and also the M5 corridors.
He said: “The current difficult market conditions with depleted stock, and a degree of uncertainty in the wider economy mean it is more important than ever to save time and money and find just the right fit.
“At the moment we are helping a number of companies who are looking to move on from their current offices into larger premises.
“In our experience, while there are a number of variables involved, the key criteria remains location above everything else. But as always when dealing with property of any sort, there have to be compromises along the way in order to achieve a successful outcome.
“Part of the service we can offer is providing an objective assessment of the pros and cons of different options based on our detailed knowledge and experience of the property market, in addition to achieving the best lease and rental terms.
“While virtually all firms will use a solicitor to carry out the legal due diligence, they may not think to appoint an agent, but even the most switched on occupier may be caught out by issues they aren’t familiar with, particularly with regard to lease terminology, and employing an agent has the potential to more than pay for itself in terms of future savings by identifying and eliminating problems which can come back to cause substantial difficulties in the future if not properly addressed at the outset.”