A forlorn looking space-hopper sits with some brown archive boxes in Cardinal Place, as Microsoft packs up for Paddington...
Victoria had its own mini tech revolution in 2006 with lastminute.com and Google leading the way. Google need large floor plates for their campus style operation and ironically lastminute.com had left their decision very late, so ended up here. Microsoft were faced with a difficult decision in 2006 when very little space of the size they required remained on the market, Victoria was a practical and efficient location close to transport links and a nice shiny new building reflected their status. What Victoria didn’t have at the time was a broad variety of amenities, and both Microsoft and Google kept much of their staff facilities and catering in-house. They are now leaving the area just as a huge number of bars and restaurants are being created.
The decision of Microsoft to leave their London base at Victoria’s Cardinal Place was unsurprising. Paddington is far better located for access to their UK headquarters in the Thames Valley. They have been replaced in Cardinal Place by Land Securities who are taking the majority of the space, along with various other tenants likely to be from a variety of different sectors.
Victoria has changed radically in its appeal to the commercial property tenant over the last few years with quality space drawing tenants in from across the West End and the City, as well as appealing to long-term Victoria tenants like Rolls Royce, Bill Gates Foundation and World Fuels.
The wealth management division of DeutscheBank raised some eyebrows when it chose Victoria as its base recently. However, surely being close to the wealthy residential enclaves of Chelsea, Belgravia and Knightsbridge as well as access to the West End, is more appealing to their clients rather than trekking over to the City for a meeting.
Jupiter Asset Management and Oaktree were both in buildings in Knightsbridge for many years, but have now chosen Victoria as their new corporate HQs. The quality of space that these organisations demand, as well as the prestige that a location needs to offer, has perhaps never been something that Victoria has been able to provide in quantity. However, the extraordinary new amenities at Nova will create 18 different restaurants from high quality grab-and-go all the way through to top end restaurants. For the likes of Jupiter Asset Management and Deutsche Bank this is clearly a crucial element to their decision making.
Google and Microsoft are well known for providing in-house facilities for their staff in order to retain them at their work stations for as long as possible (company Space Hoppers are part of the package). However, most employees clearly like to be able to escape the working environment on occasion at least, and having suitable amenities on the doorstep is often vital when taking a job. Property costs are a large part of any companies business but in the financial services sector in particular they are dwarfed by staff costs. As the economy has improved it has become ever more crucial to keep your staff happy as choices abound. Victoria now provides a huge variety of entertainment and amenity to suit all tastes.
Microsoft vacating Victoria is of course a pity and it's a shame to lose any commercial tenant bringing so much to the area. But the Space Hopper leaving and being replaced by the table tennis tables of Jupiter Asset Management, will breathe new life into the area and particularly the vast selection of new amenities at the Nova development.