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London Landlords Plan Autumn Plug-And-Play Surge As They Cosy Up To Flex Occupiers

Plug-and-play office floorspace at Boultbee Brook's Hyphen building in Manchester

London landlords are lining up “several hundred thousand” SF of plug-and-play office floorspace for launch this autumn, as they begin to chart a course toward the new normal.

Flex by MAPP, an outsourced property management platform launched in June, said talks with landlords have moved fast over the summer, as landlords race to offer fitted-out floorspace on flexible terms.

The venture, lead by James Friedenthal, said landlords wanted to build direct relationships with flex space occupiers, relationships that letting floorspace to third-party providers tended to inhibit.

Friedenthal was head of operators at Hana from its 2018 launch to its recent merger with U.S. operator Industrious. He also spent 13 years at Workspace Group, covering various roles, from head of marketing and lettings to head of corporate development.

“We’re talking to landlords, from global owners to private investors," he said. "We only began this business in June and we’re at advanced stages in talks with occupiers looking at several hundred thousand SF of office floorspace. This is exactly what the institutions are looking at. They want to create a flexible environment for occupiers who can flex in and out, and open a new product set.”

Friedenthal said landlords were interested in “a blend of income with more control” of the flexible tenant base than working through third-party operators could provide.

“Until now landlords may not have had a direct relationship with the occupiers of flexible floor space, but they now realise that relationship has to be about the quality and experience of their building, and plug-and-play is a great opportunity to do this in a cost-effective way that adds value to the asset.”

“More and more of the total office space in this country will move across to this kind of flexible offer.”

JLL UK Head of Office Research Elaine Rossall said the extent of plug-and-play interest was as yet hard to quantify.

"It's quite tricky to capture the full scale of the offer as some landlords are using plug-and-play on an ad hoc basis and also testing out the water but it is an increasing part of the market offer,” Rossall said.

“There are a few good examples such as Shaftesbury and L&G who have developed a branded plug-and-play offer — Assemble and Capsule and others are following suit in a response to [the] rise of flex fully serviced offerings and desire for more tenant flexibility and reduced capital expenditure for the tenant.

“Most landlord offerings include fully operational floors inclusive of furniture, fixtures and IT setup. Plug-and-play is most commonly being used for smaller floorplates, and suites of less than 10K SF are most common in the current landlord offering."

Related Topics: Plug & Play, James Friedenthal, MAPP