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The Crown Estate Is Getting Into The Flexible Workspace Business

Regent Street
Regent Street

The Crown Estate is making its first foray into the flexible workspace sector, Bisnow can reveal.

The company, which is more than 250 years old and owns the property assets of the Crown, is in the vanguard of real estate companies setting up their own flexible workspace concepts.

The Crown Estate is planning to launch the concept this autumn, and will initially set aside around 25K SF of its 9.5M SF Central London portfolio as flexible workspace for existing tenants. It will provide around 300 workstations that can be used by individuals or larger teams, as well as meeting rooms.

The exact location has not yet been revealed, but the majority of its office assets are based around its holdings in Regent Street and St James’s.

Traditional office landlords have been looking at different ways of tapping into the increasing desire for flexible workspace from tenants. British Land has set up its own flexible workspace brand, Storey, while Blackstone and Carlyle have bought co-working businesses.

Crown Estate Director of Central London James Cooksey told Bisnow the company was looking to innovate to make sure its office portfolio would provide what tenants want in the future.

“We’re launching our first foray into a totally flexible product run by the Crown Estate,” he said. “It’s a totally new way of operating for our business. The only way we will drive ourselves forward is by exploring new ideas.

“We’ve had some really interesting conversations with existing occupiers and we are really excited to work with them, explore this with them and learn lessons about what they want.”

Cooksey said the role landlords play in the business of occupiers is fundamentally changing, and property companies need to embrace this.

“It is not about collecting rent anymore, it is about being focused on what your customer wants and needs and helping them to generate revenue.”

In terms of what this entailed for the company, he said it was about having the right technology, data and the right people to provide the service occupiers needed.

He said the company decided to set up its own flexible product rather than just lease it to an operator because “we want to own the relationship with the customer, that’s the key ingredient”.