Business

Chamber chief welcomes growth of serviced office sector

Belfast Chamber chief executive Simon Hamilton and VenYou client services director Donna Linehan pictured on the terrace area of the Scottish Provident Building. Picture: Elaine Hill

BELFAST Chamber chief executive Simon Hamilton has welcomed the growth of the serviced office sector, despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

He was speaking following a visit to the Scottish Provident Building in Donegall Square, managed by bespoke serviced office provider VenYou, which has seen a marked improvement in occupancy levels in recent months with several new companies moving into the building.

VenYou client services director Donna Linehan says occupancy levels at Scottish Provident Building are around mid-80 per cent compared to last March when it dipped to 70 per cent after the first Covid lockdown, having been in the high 90s.

The Scottish Provident Building houses businesses from a variety of sectors including financial corporations, recruitment agencies, corporate travel management companies, television production companies and creative agencies.

Recent new tenants of the building include Hool Law, one of Belfast's leading law firms, CAA Base, an agency for professional footballers and the Watts Group, which offers mechanical and electrical building services, are returning to the building having been in a conventional office space for a period.

A number of existing other tenants have expanded their services and have moved into larger office space. These include HHAeXchange, Provizio, Overwatch Research, AP Consultants, Artemis Human Capital and Germinal Holdings.

After touring the building and meeting staff, Mr Hamilton said: “After one of the toughest years for Northern Ireland businesses, the effects of which few sectors managed to escape, I'm delighted that the Scottish Provident Building is offering a supportive environment for businesses to establish themselves and grow.

“One of the Belfast Chamber's main objectives is to promote and support local businesses and, as such, I'm keen to encourage office workers to return to the city centre as we look to aid our economic recovery.

“Throughout the past year, we have worked together to help keep each other safe, and now we must work together to help our city recover and to encourage businesses to return to Belfast. I'm confident the serviced office sector will play a key role in achieving this.”

Donna Linehan added: “We are delighted to see new companies joining the building and indeed some of our existing tenants experiencing such business growth that they require a larger office space.

“In terms of the flexibility and services we provide, we know that the serviced office sector is very attractive to business owners. In a post pandemic world, the serviced office sector could be vital when it comes to offering business owners an alternative to conventional office spaces and the limitations that occasionally come along with them.

“With lockdown restrictions beginning to ease and with many business owners considering a return to Belfast City Centre, the serviced office sector could provide a flexible and manageable way forward and ultimately, could be extremely important to our city's economic recovery.”

Harry Dowey from the Watts Group says VenYou's flexibility, coupled with the Scottish Provident Building's prime location, was a major plus for the company moving away from a conventional space and returning to serviced offices within the building.

He added: “The nature of our work requires us to be in the city centre where we can easily network with clients and industry colleagues. The great thing about the Scottish Provident Building is not only the superb facilities of this beautiful building but it's location – it's close to restaurants, cafes, car parks and is easily accessible by bus and train which is fantastic for us.

“The flexibility offered by VenYou also made our decision to return to the Scottish Provident Building a very easy one. Flexibility is vital for many businesses, especially in this current economic climate and the team at VenYou is able to deliver that and so much more.”

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