UKFast doubles space in landmark property deal
Article date: Mon, 10 Oct 2016 12:23 GMT
Growth at one of the North’s best-known firms looks set to continue as UKFast announces it is doubling the size of its HQ in a landmark property deal.
The deal sees the cloud and colocation business, run by tech entrepreneur Lawrence Jones MBE, secure a further 40,000 sq. ft. adjacent to its current campus in Manchester Science Park.
UKFast finalised the purchase of the neighbouring building, currently occupied by Laing O’Rourke, as part of an ambitious expansion plan to house their rapidly growing businesses.
Jones says: “Moving to our current location was a game-changer for us. It was a bold move but the team here have never been happier, so it has worked out brilliantly. We’re right on the edge of the city and it gives us the added benefit of car parking and room to not only grow but to create an events area that is now proving an enormous benefit to our clients.
“We have outgrown it sooner than we’d planned. Our strategy to dedicate 30% of our space to relaxation and recreation has been incredibly important to the environment we’ve created at UKFast and I plan to continue that when we expand next door. This deal gives us the opportunity to complete the next stage of our growth. The cost and disruption of relocation would have caused a lot of pain.”
Jones’s vision for UKFast Campus is one of the most ambitious property projects in the country.
UKFast Campus has won awards for its design and currently houses a fully equipped gym, steam room, bar and networking area, an auditorium for up to 300 event attendees and a second-floor Japanese spa garden.
More than 300 employees are currently based at UKFast Campus, with the new move opening up the opportunity to house up to 800.
Jones continues: “Our current space isn’t quite full, but we want to maintain the balance of keeping a third of our office space free for non-business use by our team and our clients. It’s not about cramming the building with desks and people; it’s about creating a space for people to feel at home and enjoy the time they spend here. It’s a model that is working well and we don’t want to break this by filling the space up too much.”
UKFast has reported double-digit organic growth every year since its inception and added more than £10m in recurring revenue in the last two years. Earlier this year the firm announced a £40m fund from the Royal Bank of Scotland to build on its organic growth, which helped it to acquire security specialists Pentest in June.
Jones says: "UKFast is growing faster than ever. It took us 10 years to get to £4m and only another 7 years to reach £40m. In spite of Brexit and currency challenges, we just had our best quarter yet winning our three biggest customers. I am very excited about the future and the building immediately gives us a home for some of the other embryonic UKFast non-core businesses we are currently developing."
Chartered surveyors OBI Property advised UKFast on the deal. Will Lewis, Founding Director, says: “This is a really important strategic acquisition where real estate will play a key role in enabling one of Manchester’s fastest-growing businesses to successfully expand within a true campus environment. OBI is delighted to have advised on this complex transaction and our team worked tirelessly to ensure we completed matters within a challenging timetable.”
Jones has intimated that he is going to open up the building to other tech-centric businesses giving start-ups a chance to flourish in their early years: "The building is too big for us on day one, so we may as well give the surplus floor space to others who need it more than us. All will be revealed in time. I am just happy that we have a home to grow into."
The announcement sees Jones complete his tenth property deal as part of his business portfolio, which includes data centres, a Swiss ski hotel as well as UKFast Campus.
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