Scottish Capital Partners Ltd., a Scotland-based private investment firm, is investing £50 million to create a portfolio of WorkSpace brand business parks that will include self-storage and office space for startup companies. The facilities will offer both services on a flexible basis, allowing renters to adjust their square footage as often as monthly, according to John McGlynn, founder.
The first business park opened last year in Paisley, Scotland. Scottish Capital had purchased the property in 2014. The site comprises 180,000 square feet of space. More than 44,000 square feet of space has already been developed into WorkSpace offices and studios as well as 640 self-storage units. Once complete, the center will total 90,000 square feet, according to the source.
A second site in Cambuslang, a suburb of Glasgow, Scotland, recently had a soft opening due to customer demand, the source reported. The 7.5-acre center will be formally unveiled once the landscaping is complete.
Scottish Capital plans to open 10 workspace sites over the next 12 to 18 months. The properties will offer purpose-built, drive-up storage units in varying sizes up to 200 square feet. Each will include 24-hour access, board and meeting rooms, furnished offices, kitchens, phone, Internet, reception services, postal facilities, security measures, and parking.
“I see this as a great way to foster growth of small business in the area,” McGlynn said. “At a time when there feels to be some uncertainty in the country, the more flexible we can make things for businesses, the more likely they are to take the leap of faith to start or grow; we want to encourage and help that.”
McGlynn, who launched his first business, Airlink Group, from a law-school library, said startups need support to establish a base. He cited businesses enrolled in Entrepreneurial Spark, a free startup-accelerator program designed to help new companies in Scotland, as an example. “People come out the other side and the support mechanism doesn’t exist,” he said. “A new startup company—the chances are they’ve got no idea how big their first order is going to be.”
The month-to-month lease will give businesses flexibility, McGlynn said. “If they have a huge order, they can take 10 storerooms; a month later they can give us nine back. It’s to create ultra-flexibility; this is basically the pay-as-you-go mobile phone for the property business.”
Flexibility will be key to WorkSpace’s success, McGlynn said. “Most startup companies don’t have the cash to pay for a property or commit to a three- or five-year lease, never mind asking a lawyer to review a 50-page lease. The economy has moved on, and people who are providing business space have to move with it. We’ve looked at best practice around the world and said, ‘If we’re going to do this, let’s do it properly.’ So it has to be chunky capital for 10 sites or we don’t do it at all.”
The firms renting space will also have more to offer prospective investors, McGlynn said. “If we’ve got 50 really cool businesses in there, and some have come from other programs like Entrepreneurial Spark, that means they are investor-ready. Now, if you get to see these companies close at hand, what better for an investor than to have a cluster? So I think there’s an appetite for people to invest in companies where they can fly into Glasgow, go and visit five or six of their investee companies in the one building, and then get on a plane again.”
McGlynn has launched more than 50 business ventures in the past 20 years. In addition to Scottish Capital, he’s the founder of Storage Investments, a commercial landlord that owns a drive-up self-storage chain in the United Kingdom. In 2014, he sold several car-park sites to focus on commercial investment properties. McGlynn entered the self-storage market after attending industry shows and realizing the investment potential, the source reported.
- Herald Scotland: John McGlynn to Invest Â£50m in Start-Up Office Space