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Despite Everything, Flex Operators Spot Manchester Opportunity (And Big Balance Sheet Boost)

Linley House at the end of its cul-de-sac of Portland Street, Manchester

Manchester’s flexible workspace scene just got a little more crowded.

Despite the high entrance fee of buying into Manchester’s office market, private equity business Castleforge Partners has acquired the 68K SF Linley House, off Portland Street, for its expanding Clockwise serviced office brand.

It says a lot about the perceived strengths of the Manchester market that a building down a side alley off the bus-filled canyon of Portland Street could be regarded as a promising prospect. But Castleforge is following the own-and-operate model pioneered by Workspace, which is a different approach than the buy-wholesale sell-retail model of WeWork or IWG. Following the Manchester office buy, and late autumn buys in Exeter, Southampton and Leeds, a portfolio with a potential gross development value of £175M now sits on its balance sheet, Insider reported. The Manchester site is marked at £30M.

Castleforge has been repurposing parts of its existing UK portfolio as serviced space since 2018. This included a 32K SF Liverpool outlet opened in 2019.

It has now begun acquiring new premises, bargain hunting in an unsettled market.