Role and company:Co-founder and co-CEO of The Office Group, which provides innovative, flexible and design-led offices, meeting rooms as well as drop-in and shared ClubRooms, throughout Central London. The Office Group works with local artists, up-and-coming interior designers and exciting young architects to create some of the most stimulating and environmentally friendly workspaces in London. The company aims to provide value for money offices for all sizes of companies, whilst enabling every way of working for every sort of business.
Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):Over 25m (Ebitda 13m) 2013.
Employee numbers:80 and growing.
Growth forecast for the next three years:2014, £28m (£13m) 2015, £35m (£20m), 2016, £50m (£26m).
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:We simplify the serviced office product, giving tenants more ownership more communal space and a considered, bespoke and design led approach to office space.
What’s the big vision for your business?To ultimately be the UK’s leader in the flexible office industry. Businesses are starting to realise that there is more to working life than four walls and a desk. To maximise employee production and retention you need to dedicate the same level of design consideration to your offices as you apply to other areas of your lives such as hotels and restaurants. There is a real gap in the market to create design-led spaces that engage employees; The Office Group will be the market leader by 2020.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations:Our priority is to focus on the UK and continue delivering high-quality office space. Ideally we’d like to have offices in every major UK city and then we can look into expanding internationally. We have 20 offices in the UK; 18 in London, one in Bristol and one in Leeds. We have just confirmed a £95m refinancing deal from HSBC to fund the next stage of The Office Group’s expansion. We have some really exciting new offices in the pipeline which we will be able to announce later this year but until then our lips are sealed!
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:Losing previous jobs due to changes in management and market conditions. This taught us the hard lesson that you make your own luck if you control your own business.
What makes you mad in business today?Despite technology allowing immediate communication, new transactions to grow the business are taking longer.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?Increased competition as the demand for flexible working space continues to grow and more operators will be looking to break into the market to satisfy this demand.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?Yes. The market for smaller flexible office space is strong. If you’re acquiring freehold property and running an operational business with a proven management team you shouldn’t have any trouble.
How would others describe your leadership style?To the point but diplomatic.
Your biggest personal extravagance?I have a passion for watches.
You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:To continue to do what he’s doing. It’s working. Entrepreneurial spirit is high. Oh yes and reduce income and capital gains tax! By Shané Schutte
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