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Workplace experts say their business is booming as Aberdeen faces up to a space shortage.

Record oil prices are keeping the local economy buoyant, with many Granite City businesses escaping the worst of the credit crunch.

But with commercial property at a premium in the city, experts expect more businesses will need to creatively renovate existing premises to cope with growth.

Since it was founded in Aberdeen in 1997, Space Solutions has become Scotland’s leading independent specialist in the design, build, fit-out, refurbishment and relocation of modern and productive business environments.

Steve Judge, Managing Director

Steve Judge, Managing Director

 

Managing Director Steve Judge believes it is inevitable more companies will be looking to redesign existing bases over the coming months.

He added: “There is limited good quality commercial property in Aberdeen, which is ironic because the city is one of the few places that is escaping the worst of the credit crunch and there is still a high demand.

“With oil prices at a record high the reality is that the economy here is healthy and businesses are thriving. Frankly, there isn’t enough commercial property to accommodate the kind of growth we are seeing. Because of the demand, what property is available is expensive.

“Aberdeen is not immune to the world economy, albeit the oil sector is shielding us somewhat. Developers are less likely to build commercial property speculatively which is fueling demand.

“We believe businesses should start to look more carefully at what can be achieved in their existing premises. The good news is that we can usually help them make dramatic improvements to solve challenges with provision and use of space.”

During the last major economic slowdown of the 1990s, when oil prices hit rock bottom, Space Solutions witnessed a surge in demand for its services with companies looking to reduce property overheads. During that 18 month period companies enlisted Space Solutions for moving premises and rationalising space.

Steve added: “We provide services that allow companies to cope with change from an accommodation perspective. Companies are likely to look at this when upsizing, downsizing or merging – the market conditions clearly have a bearing on this.

“The oil sector in Aberdeen has always involved large numbers of itinerant contractors, so we have worked with many businesses which need to contract or expand their workplaces quickly and efficiently.

“That means we have unrivalled expertise in this type of work and we expect that to be crucial in the coming months. We are very much looking forward to helping businesses adapt to meet the challenges of the current market and doing our bit to ensure Aberdeen’s economy continues to thrive.”

Companies are often amazed by just how much they are under-utilising their space. Properly planned workplaces can accommodate more people, increase efficiency and productivity, streamline storage.

The Space Solutions team boasts expertise in architecture, space planning and design, construction, project management and commercial relocations. These are available as individual services or as start-to-finish solution.

The company, that has five bases in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Peterborough, has noticed a marked difference between the needs of the North-east and Central Belt markets.

It recently launched a Sustainability Service, advising businesses how to reduce their carbon footprint while also reducing energy costs. Businesses which are altering their premises can take advantage of many fuel, waste and water efficiencies.

Space Solutions had a turnover of £12 million last year and employs 130 people.

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Workplace experts have revealed how the credit crunch is forcing thousands of Scottish businesses to consider how they can make more efficient use of their business space.

Space Solutions is Scotland’s biggest independent expert in managing workplace change and its fortunes have shown a dramatic upswing in the first half of 2008.

Derek Binnie, Director

Derek Binnie, Director

Director Derek Binnie says the firm has seen an estimated 22% increase from the same period last year in contracts across the Central Belt as businesses of all sizes make changes to their premises to better cope with volatile market conditions.

He said: “The credit crunch has created a general air of gloom around the property market, so people are often surprised to hear that, as a business whose entire currency is property, we are actually doing very well at the moment.
 “The reasons for that are pretty simple. For most companies, property is the second biggest cost on their balance sheet. When the market is tough they take a far more detailed look at how their premises are performing. That is where we come in.”

With 130 staff and five main offices, Space Solutions operates UK-wide design, build, fit out and refurbish modern and productive business environments. Its team provides expertise in architecture, space planning, interior design, construction, project management and relocations.

Derek added: “Forward-thinking businesses realise there is some pretty serious science involved in proper space planning – it is not just a case of knocking down walls and shifting desks around.

“Having a responsive, well-planned workplace is a key factor in everything from efficient use of resources, motivating staff and creating the right impression with customers.

“Factors involved include having the right amount of storage space to ensuring all the communications system work efficiently. With proper workplace analysis and space planning business can make significant savings.”

Space Solutions handles any part of the process from auditing and assessing existing space and future needs, through the technical aspects of drawing up plans and securing consents, to the practical delivery, including fit out and logistics. It offers services individually or from start-to-finish.

Derek said the firm had recently worked with a major company helping it to consolidate its business HQ. Space Solutions experts identified so much wasteage in unnecessary storage, it was able to free up an entire floor of the building.

He added: “As a result it has now sublet 1500 sq ft and can focus more money and attention on long-term growth because it has more capital to play with. It not only makes sense financially, but allows far better and more responsive business planning.”

Space Solutions regularly advises businesses of all sizes – from those with single bases, to those with multiple offices looking to slim down. It can set up efficient remote working and hot desking – helping firms which have previously baulked at reducing desk numbers.

Increasingly, concern over global warming has forced businesses to look at their carbon footprint, and many choose to take action while reshaping offices or other premises.

Derek added: “We recently launched a full Sustainability Service to help businesses become more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. What most of them find amazing is the amount of savings they can actually make in the process.”

As one of four directors who masterminded a successful MBO of Space Solutions in 2007, Derek is delighted the £12m-a-year business is in a healthy position, despite the credit crunch.

He added: “It’s not just that we are doing well, it is also very rewarding to see that we can really make a difference that will help our clients weather the economic slowdown. 

“Yes, there is an outlay, because businesses have to spend to make a saving. But the returns from a successful streamlining of the workplaces can be vast and long-term for most businesses. 

“There is no doubt the careful and expert planning and management services we offer will be increasingly in demand in 2008 and 2009. Particularly in the Central Belt, where the credit crush is having more of an impact than the oil-rich area around Aberdeen.”

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