Not so very long ago, if you started up a business in London, your company base was pretty much pre-ordained. You were in advertising? Then your HQ had to be in Soho. Finance? You’d be in the City, naturally…
Email, the internet and vastly improved transport links have laid waste to those ideas, and today’s thriving new enterprises and start-ups are as likely to be found in Wood Green as they are in the West End. And that can only be a good thing – it makes London more diverse, and creates new job opportunities and pockets of creativity and enterprise in previously neglected areas.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, for Workspace customers, location, location, location isn’t always the number one consideration when choosing a business space. “We know from speaking to our customers that in terms of priorities, the first factor is the quality of the space,” says James Friedenthal, Workspace’s Head of Corporate Development. “Number two is value for money. Location comes third. That’s not to say it’s unimportant – we know that around two-thirds of the employees in our spaces live within the same borough as the business centre they work at, or in the adjoining borough.”
What is vital for business growth, in today’s tech-driven culture, is being “connected”, both to digital services such as fast, reliable broadband, and to a wider network of like-minded individuals and companies, across all sectors and industries.
Cutting down the daily commute plays a part in office selection, then. But there are many other diverse reasons why a company might be drawn to a particular place – from a desire to be different and disrupt industry expectations, to wanting to be near restaurants, cool bars and shops to attract key staff, to plain old familiarity. What’s clear is that the postcode you’re based in – and being within a stone’s throw of other firms working within the same industry – is no longer a key driver for success. What is vital for business growth, in today’s tech-driven culture, is being “connected”, both to digital services such as fast, reliable broadband, and to a wider network of like-minded individuals and companies, across all sectors and industries.
Bulldog: going global
Over in W10, just a short walk from Portobello Road, is Ladbroke Grove’s Grand Union Studios, one of Workspace’s most recent developments. It’s home to an eclectic range of businesses, including an ethical tea importer, a visual effects agency, a bike-clothing designer and one of the cosmetic industry’s fastest-growing brands – Bulldog Skincare for Men.
The company has had a “really exciting” couple of years, according to co-founder Simon Duffy. From seven staffers two years ago, the team is now 17-strong – and there are plans to bring in another 10 to 15 people. “We’ve just launched in Walgreens in America in over 2,000 stores, but the business continues to grow well in all of our international markets,” says Simon. “We’re now sold in 15 countries.”
What sets Bulldog apart
So, why is everyone buying into Bulldog? “I think it’s our formulas, which include natural ingredients,” suggests Simon; their shaving gels, face washes and moisturisers are packed with essential oils and plant-based goodies. “But it’s also a great deal of other positive things like our cruelty-free certification, the fact we use no microbeads, and we manufacture in the UK. It’s all helped. It was innovative when we started. A few other brands have been copying this more recently, but that’s only a good thing if you want to see change happening across the whole industry.”
Being based at a Workspace centre is a good way to meet people.
Simon Duffy, Bulldog
Simon and the team have always been based in West London, although they were previously in our nearby Pall Mall Deposit. Simon admits his plan for finding his first office was “not that strategic”, based as it was mainly on his desire to avoid having to take public transport every morning. Yet Pall Mall proved the perfect environment for his burgeoning business.
Why Workspace works
“Being based at a Workspace centre is a good way to meet people,” he says. “I ran into a company called Channel Flip in the Pall Mall Deposit café, and we had a few conversations, and ended up working together to create an award-winning YouTube content marketing campaign with the comedian David Mitchell. It’s still something we’re very proud of.”
The new office at Grand Union suits the growing team, according to Simon. “It feels much bigger, it’s very flexible, we’re able to spread out a bit, and we’ve already seen the benefits of that in the way the team collaborates.” It’s also something of a people magnet. “It’s a very cool space, so it’s great to be able to invite people in, and I think it does a really good job showcasing the brand. We’re close to lots of pubs and restaurants, and it’s great to be in a really buzzy area. I think that’s going to help us attract more people to work with us in the future.”
Simon might be too snowed under to take advantage of W10’s social life himself, but he makes sure Bulldog has its finger on the collective pulse via social media. “We see Instagram as a great way to share visual stories about what makes our products so special, and Twitter is a great way to stay connected to people who use Bulldog products. There will be a lot more activity in this area from Bulldog in the years ahead.”
It’s not hard to see why our office and studio space is proving so popular at Grand Union Studios. With comfort cooling, floor-to-ceiling glazing and terraces with spectacular views across London, if you’re interested in securing space less than a mile from bustling Portobello Road click here to view our last remaining spaces.
You can also find many more features and comment on the business landscape for New and Growing Companies in London in our latest edition of HomeWork. Simply click here to download our second edition which focuses heavily on the role of connectivity in business growth.