What does the 2016 Budget mean for London businesses?

Over the past few days, the details and potential impact of the 2016 Budget have been one of the most discussed topics throughout the United Kingdom in general and among London-based businesses in particular. The British capital has always been considered the country’s main economic engine and a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation, and many predicted that the Budget would focus on solidifying the city’s prominent position in this respect, fostering a culture of investment and enterprise.

Continue reading “What does the 2016 Budget mean for London businesses?”

Top London Tech Conferences for 2016

Conferences attract the best minds in tech, as well as the latest and most innovative products. They are opportunities to showcase the latest gadgets, concepts and services in the technology sector. Conferences in London also provide an opportunity to network and connect with others in the sector, resulting in new leads and partnerships. Here is a list of some of the most influential and significant tech conferences being held in the UK’s capital during 2016.

Bett Show 2016

Bett 2016 is a free event at Excel London that showcases the latest technology in the education sector. Held from January 20 to 23, the conference and tradeshow provides educators and others with an opportunity to learn about the latest technology tools that can add new layers to the classroom and learning in general. It is an opportunity to try the latest technology and hear from experts in the industry. The event also provides educators to meet with peers from around the world to discuss how technology is and will transform the way we teach and learn.

Website: www.bettshow.com
Twitter: twitter.com/Bett_show

SkyTech 2016

With drones becoming more and more popular for personal use, they are also becoming important tools for businesses to deliver improved services. On January 27 and 28 at the Business Design Centre, SkyTech will help advance the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) commercial industry in Europe with a two-day business-to-business conference and exhibition. In its second year, the event includes national and international speakers, workshops, product launches and marketing opportunities for the UAV community.

Website: www.skytechevent.com
Twitter: twitter.com/skytechevent

Finovate Europe

Dedicated to effective uses of mobile technology, Finovate Europe is being organised on February 9 and 10 at Old Billingsgate. The conference looks at mobile tech in both private and public sectors, providing a forum to explore the future of banking and finance technology (‘fintech’) in Europe. Covering a broad range of financial technology issues, the agenda includes demo sessions and networking opportunities. FinovateEurope attracts start-up and established companies as well as financial institutions with new fintech innovations. With a selection process focused on novelty and potential, participants will be treated to a diverse and innovative conference. Continue reading “Top London Tech Conferences for 2016”

The Business Benefits and Economic Boost : Crossrail Eastern Section

Crossrail will provide a broad range of economic benefits to London, as well as other areas of the South-East of England and across the United Kingdom. The estimated benefit of project to theeconomy will be at least £42 billion, according to Crossrail. The new transport corridor will also spur new business development, employment opportunities, and improved commuting times.

The Eastern section of Crossrail will stretch from Stratford in East London to Shenfield in Essex. As part of the project, a number of rail stations will see improvements to provide better transport gateways. Improvements to stations will also help promote development and regeneration in the neighbouring area, particularly within a kilometre of the station. Improvements along the 25-kilometre, 15.5-mile route are planned for Brentwood, Chadwell Heath, Forest Gate, Gidea Park, Goodmayes, Harold Wood, Ilford, Romford, and Shenfield stations. Other stations along the eastern section of the Crossrail route include Manor Park, Maryland, and Seven Kings. Continue reading “The Business Benefits and Economic Boost : Crossrail Eastern Section”

The London Commercial Property Market: An Overview of 2015

4th Quarter – Commercial Property Market in London

As 2015 comes to an end, it’s time to sum up the key trends that have characterised the commercial property market in London over the past 12 months. The latest RICS UK Commercial Market Survey highlighted the growing demand experienced across all commercial property sectors, and in particular with regards to office and industrial properties. As expected, increased demand has resulted in higher prime rental values across all sectors. These averaged a 9.4 per cent increase in office rental prices, 7 per cent for retail stock, and just below 4 per cent for industrial properties (1).

The retail market benefited from exceptional levels of consumer confidence, which are at their highest since the late 90s. Annual change rates for retail rents in the West End averaged 14 per cent, whereas in the City they stayed at 4 per cent (2). Citywide, rental growth averaged 13.2 per cent. Vacancy rates dropped to 3 per cent, a figure that stands in stark contrast with this year’s national average at 14 per cent. Another key trend this year had to do with the performance of the industrial market, which experienced a boost as the e-commerce sector solidified its presence (3).

Office Market – Q4 2015

During the last quarter of 2015, the London office market has continued to display robust activity levels. At the beginning of Q4, year-to-date take up levels amounted to 9.7 million square feet, a figure that represents a 3 per cent increase over last year’s values. Most transactions involved firms involved in sectors like professional services, media and technology, and banking.

According to research data published by BNP Paribas, during November and December the main trends affecting the London office market were above-average leasing activity and a surge in investment levels. Vacancy rates dropped to 4.28 per cent in November, although this figure is likely to increase with the delivery of more than 7 million square feet of Grade A space over the course of 2016. Year-to-date take up rates reached 12.40 million square feet in early December (4). Continue reading “The London Commercial Property Market: An Overview of 2015”

Quirky, Cool Christmas Office Party Ideas in London

With only a few weeks left until Christmas Day, most office managers and business owners are busy organising their annual Christmas office party. Year after year, the festive season presents us with an opportunity to reward our staff and show our gratitude for a whole year of hard work. Corporate Christmas parties are also effective at building team spirit and motivating employees, in addition to being a great PR and marketing exercise.

But perhaps this year you’d prefer to organise something more interesting and memorable than the typical office Christmas lunch or dinner party. If you’d like to bring your team together by doing something fun and completely atypical, read through the suggestions below and learn more about some quirky, cool Christmas office party ideas in London.

Underground Crazy Golf at Waterloo
Underground Crazy Golf is set to become one of the most popular corporate day out experiences in the British capital. We are all familiar with Christmas golf breaks, which can be as appealing as they are costly. If you are looking for a more affordable way to celebrate Christmas with your staff and do not want to leave golf out of the equation, Underground Crazy Golf is the right choice for you. Continue reading “Quirky, Cool Christmas Office Party Ideas in London”

The Business Benefits and Economic Boost: Crossrail Western Section

Crossrail will result in a range of substantial economic benefits to London, the South-East and the UK. According to Crossrail, the economic impact of the new transport corridor will be at least £42 billion. It will also promote new business development and employment opportunities, as well as improved commuting times for those living and working along the corridor.

Running from Paddington in Central London to Heathrow Airport and Reading, the western section is set to open in 2019. A number of stations will be enhanced along the route, while new stations will open at Acton Main Line, Southall, West Ealing and Hayes & Harlington. These improvements are also encouraging development and regeneration, providing new places to work and do business along the Crossrail corridor. Other stations along the western section of Crossrail include Burnham, Ealing Broadway, Hanwell, Heathrow Airport, Iver, Langley, Maidenhead, Reading, Slough, Taplow Twyford, and West Drayton. Crossrail will help support the regeneration of town centres such as Ealing, as well as other areas including Southall.

One of the most significant impacts of the western section will be on the residential market. By reducing travel times, Crossrail will help increase house prices along the route. This will increase the appeal of several areas, such as Ealing. Ealing Broadway Station is being refurbished, while the town centre is subject to extensive regeneration plans including an upgrade to the Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre. These improvements are attracting commercial property developers to Ealing, with major schemes including the St. George’s development on New Broadway.

Shorter commute times will also help attract new commercial development to the area around five Crossrail stations within Ealing. The new link will help make Ealing an attractive alternative to areas along the M4/A4 corridor in West London. According to Crossrail, 44 per cent of planning applications for development within a kilometre of the five stations in the London Borough of Ealing cited the project as a justification for moving forward. For example, the Southall Gas Works will bring 3,750 new homes and 525,000 square feet of new commercial and community space close to Southall station. The development of the 83-hectare brownfield site will also include a new primary school. Continue reading “The Business Benefits and Economic Boost: Crossrail Western Section”

Overview of London’s Commercial Property Market – 3rd Quarter 2015

Across the United Kingdom, the third quarter of 2015 has been marked by acceleration in GDP growth rates and by the strong performance of the service sector. These factors have had a positive effect on the country’s commercial real estate market, which has experienced increased stability and growing demand over the past three months. This trend has been particularly evident in the British capital, as summarised in the report below.

London Office Market: Trends and Highlights

In line with previous trends earlier this year, the office market in central London has continued to be driven by increased demand and record rental values have been the predominant theme in the West End and core city office locations. A Cushman & Wakefield market report revealed that in August 2015, availability for all office space types in Central London dropped to 9.7 million square feet, a figure that represents a 3.7 per cent decrease over the previous quarter. This record-breaking figure is also below the decade’s average, which stands at 15 million square feet. According to the report, the amount of office space under offer in central London has also increased substantially during this past quarter, growing by more than 4 per cent, or 60 per cent higher than the past 10-year average. It is estimated that there are currently 4.4 million square feet of office space under offer in central London.

Another key trend that has emerged over the past quarter is related to the large number of FinTech start-ups that have been launched across London. CBRE market analysts have reported that FinTech clusters are now well defined in areas like Canary Wharf, which is home to nearly 10 per cent of all recent start-ups in this industry sector. Office space in the South Bank is also highly sought after by FinTech start-ups, with postcodes like EC2A and EC1V following suit, and with another FinTech cluster evolving in and around Tech City, also in East London. If current market trends are anything to go by, in the near future we can expect to see a surge in demand for incubator space coming mainly from FinTech firms, as well as larger floorplate requirements, given that many of these companies are ready for expansion. Continue reading “Overview of London’s Commercial Property Market – 3rd Quarter 2015”

Company Relocation: Office Relocation Checklist

The fourth in our series on Company Relocation

Planning is crucial when relocating. To help plan for an office move, the following checklist outlines important steps to consider when relocating.

The Planning Stage

During the early stages of planning for a move, it is important to consider the company’s needs and goals for the new location. Understanding these will help inform the design of the new space, as well as facilitate a smooth relocation.

Ensure you:

– Choose a relocation team that is led by a senior-level champion
– Clearly define roles and responsibilities for affected departments and parties
– Engage employees and seek input
– Engage stakeholders, including board members, regulators, clients and suppliers
– Define goals and priorities for the new location
– Define needs for the new location, including amenities, services and storage space

The Development Stage

Once priorities have been identified and affected groups are engaged, the relocation process moves into the development stage. At this point, budgets and plans should be drafted. Sites should also be explored and narrowed down to identify the new office pace. Continue reading “Company Relocation: Office Relocation Checklist”

Company Relocation: Relocating your Office

The third in our series on Office Relocation

Relocating an office can be both exciting and stressful, as well as being one of the most expensive decisions made by a company. This makes planning vital for a successful move. The following outlines key considerations when moving a company, from early planning stages to the actual move into new office premises.

The first step in relocating is to identifying the team responsible for organising the move, including a senior-level champion who will make decisions. Roles and responsibilities should be clearly identified for each departments involved in the planning process, including finance, facilities, IT, operations, marketing, human resources and senior managers. Moves can cause stress and anxiety, and keeping staff informed is a good way to avoid misunderstandings and confusion. Staff should have opportunities to provide feedback and access information about the move throughout the process. In some cases, engagement with trade unions and employees directly affected by the move is required under the Information & Consultation of Employees Regulations. Other stakeholders may also need to be engaged, including the parent company, board members, department heads, and regulators.

Finding the right location

Prior to planning a move, companies should identify requirements and priorities for the new location. Defining these will help ensure that the right location is identified. The location should have good access to potential employees with the skills needed to support the company. Consider transportation links and services, including public transport, highway and road access, and parking. The new location should allow employees to have a reasonable commute from their home and also be easy for clients and others to visit. There should also be local amenities for employees, such as shops, restaurants and other services. Once a site is selected, a full survey should be carried out to determine the condition of the building and identify potential issues that may affect costs as well as the design of the new office.
Continue reading “Company Relocation: Relocating your Office”

Company Relocation: Relocating People and Employees

The second in our series on Company Relocation

When a company relocates within or outside of the United Kingdom, they may also relocate their employees. From time to time, companies may also be required to relocate staff to other cities or countries. This might be the result of opening a new office or trying to meet operational requirements by having enough resources in different locations. Companies need to consider the rights of their employees when relocating people. At the same time, employees need to understand the conditions of their employment contract when they are asked to move.

Whenever a company relocates, employers are responsible for ensuring the rights of their employees are respected. This includes respecting the terms of any mobility clause in an employee’s contract. A mobility clause outlines the conditions and limits when an employee must move. This clause normally allows companies to force their workers to move, in accordance to the terms outlined in the clause. Employers are not required to provide compensation for employees if they relocate, unless this is identified in the employment contract. Employers must ensure that any request to move is reasonable. For example, asking an employee to relocate outside of the UK with only one day’s notice or if the move would affect the employee’s children’s education would not be considered reasonable requests.

It is important for employees to fully understand their employment contract and mobility clause, if present. Any employee with a mobility clause in their contract must move at the request of their employer unless they prove that the request to relocate is unreasonable. If proven that the move is unreasonable, the clause may not apply and the employee can request alternative arrangements. Employees without a mobility clause have the option to choose whether or not they wish to move. Continue reading “Company Relocation: Relocating People and Employees”