‘More IT firms are moving to Yorkshire’

Ward Hadaway Property Partner Kevin Weston
Ward Hadaway Property Partner Kevin Weston
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GROWING numbers of fast growing hi-tech firms are moving their headquarters to Yorkshire, according to senior figures at a leading law firm

Property and technology specialists at Ward Hadaway believe that the county’s lower costs and skilled workforce make it an attractive choice for firms who are worried about overheads in other parts of the UK.

The comments were made as the build-up continues to the Yorkshire Fastest 50, the annual run-down of the fastest growing privately owned companies in Yorkshire which Ward Hadaway sponsors and organises in association with The Yorkshire Post.

Ward Hadaway Property Partner Kevin Weston said: “Getting the right property at the right price is key to the success of any business and there are a lot of factors which owners and managers need to consider before making their choice. The flexibility to expand production or make room for additional staff is particularly important for fast-growing companies such as those in the Yorkshire Fastest 50. As a result, things like having first option on additional space or, for the more adventurous, taking on larger premises with the ability to short-term sub-letting agreements are major factors when it comes to deciding on property requirements. The state of the property sector since 2008 has made it something of a buyer’s market so owners and developers who offer this kind of flexibility are likely to see more demand for their space.

Also, since maintaining and restricting costs is important for any business, any incentives which can deliver that – such as lower or zero business rates – are going to make properties more attractive to potential occupiers.”

Developments in technology are now allowing businesses to operate in ways that previously would not have been possible.

Providing customers with round the clock service and allowing staff to work remotely are often now seen as essentials for any modern business to keep ahead of the competition. This is making the location and size of business premises less of an issue than it was previously.

Nevertheless, “bricks and mortar” are still important. Getting the right “look and feel” for your office space sends a strong message to customers and office fit-outs are increasingly playing a part in attracting staff, improving productivity and generating ideas.

Gareth Yates, partner in the technology team at Ward Hadaway, said: “Increasingly, businesses are leveraging the availability of modern, hi-tech facilities in Yorkshire when deciding where to establish their main base of operations. We are seeing increasing numbers of business across all sectors, in particular the IT and life sciences sectors, seeking out opportunities to establish their HQs in Yorkshire – often relocating their businesses from other parts of the UK where overheads are higher.

“The announcement last week from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of plans to improve connectivity and boost tech and life sciences start-ups across Yorkshire fits in to this trend.

“Yorkshire provides an ideal location to locate key back office functions, whilst still providing a national reach for businesses given the county’s central location within the UK.”

Mr Weston added: “Location is important when it comes to the workforce which you can attract and, depending on the nature of the business, how quickly you can get goods and services to your customers. As a result, the transport infrastructure in a particular location plays a vital role in the choice of property for a growing business. We are also seeing the increasing importance of clusters or hubs of similar businesses. Sometimes it can really help a company to be in close proximity to others in its sector, such as in a hub of creative businesses. This can increase the pool of talent available to a company and make it more attractive for workers to join a business. In a similar way, many companies who have operations at different locations want to bring those different parts together in one location.”

Ward Hadaway recently advised commercial energy company Contract Natural Gas (CNG) - a Yorkshire Fastest 50 entrant for the last four years – on its relocation to new purpose-built headquarters in North Yorkshire. The relocation to No.2 Victoria Avenue in Harrogate increased CNG’s office space by 4,000 sq ft and consolidated its operations within one property, having previously been spread across two buildings on the same site.

Steph McGovern, the face of business on BBC’s Breakfast programme, will be the guest speaker at the Yorkshire Fastest 50 2015 Awards. The awards, which are due to be presented at Aspire in Leeds on Friday, March 20, celebrate the achievements of the region’s fastest growing companies. Ms McGovern will be meeting business leaders and representatives of Yorkshire’s fastest growing companies at the awards. The awards will see trophies presented to the fastest growing small business, the fastest growing medium-sized business and the fastest growing large business. One of these three award winners will then be crowned Yorkshire’s overall fastest growing business for 2015.