PERFECT FORMULA FOR A VIBRANT BUSINESS DESTINATION IS CLUSTERS, COMMUNITY, DIVERSITY AND A DECENT PUB

  • Expert ShardTalks panel confirm the importance of ‘place’ for business success
  • Impacts on corporate brand, talent retention and staff productivity
  • Panel addresses transformation of London Bridge into ‘Manhattan’ of the capital

Around 250 people from a diverse range of backgrounds came together at The Shard for the fourth and final instalment of the popular ShardTalks series on Thursday 5 November. The panel made up of experts from the worlds of branding, enterprise, management consulting, talent, workplace inclusion and gastronomy to tackle the theme of ‘Place’ and its very real impact on business success – from a company’s reputation to the productivity and happiness of its employees.

The panel agreed that the perfect formula for a vibrant business destination is clusters, diversity and a decent pub followed by a good restaurant. Talking about the impact of place on business, brand guru Simon Williams, ‎Chief Growth Officer at FutureBrand, said:

“Place is an incredibly powerful tool in giving businesses the ‘creative oxygen’ they need to flourish, attract the right talent and shape their reputation. Companies need to differentiate themselves, which is forcing their leaders to look at their fundamental business models and the way they use ‘place’ in attracting and retaining top talent.”

Clusters are a pivotal consideration for companies looking to relocate, as they can have a positive impact on business growth. In the past, clusters formed when businesses from the same industry moved within close proximity of one another creating belts of law firms in Holborn or financial institutions in the City or Canary Wharf for example. Now companies with similar business interests are more likely to seek each other out to promote collaboration, which is creating greater diversity in new office locations.

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The Shard’s leasing director James Goldsmith pointed to the increased willingness of corporates to relocate to less traditional neighbourhoods in his opening remarks, but it is often young companies that tend to be the pioneers of these new areas. The Shard’s neighbourhoods of Bermondsey and Borough are the second most popular destination for start-ups after the Silicon Roundabout in Old Street with 5,850 entities, with Queen of Start-ups Bindi Karia commenting:

“Start-ups like to cluster, as people learn and live off each other – we are all energised by working with like-minded people who are passionate about their industry. Start-ups can grow quickly and need to be somewhere they can attract top talent and that is easily accessible for their people.”

Peter Richardson, managing director of global business consulting firm Protiviti, which recently moved to The Shard with its sister recruitment company Robert Half, reiterated the importance of place for attracting talent but highlighted the business benefits of picking the right location. He said:

“We wanted somewhere with a collaborative environment; a place that would be enjoyed by our staff and clients alike, but one that would also provide access to a variety of mature and emerging industries, and enable us to create valuable connections for those companies we work with and the surrounding local community. London Bridge ticked the box.”

The role of pubs and restaurants highlights an important consideration for businesses looking to relocate – the happiness of their employees. A good selection of social amenities provide employees with both day-to-day convenience and a place to unwind or have fun with their friend and colleagues after a hard day at the office. The attractiveness of a destination can actually have a make or break impact on the willingness of an employee to accept a job or stay with their company, so place becomes an important consideration for businesses seeking to attract and retain talent.

Over the last ten years, the London Bridge area has undergone a significant transformation. Iqbal Wahhab, London restauranteur and founder of Roast, is a member of the Department for Work and Pensions’ Ethnic Minority Advisory Group, which aims to reduce unemployment amongst ethnic minorities. He emphasised the opportunities that are being created in the area due to the influx of new business and, in response to the change he has witnessed from the heart of Borough Market, said:

“The centre of London first shifted east and now it is migrating south. A diverse range of sectors are moving into the area – technology, PR and even film – bringing employees with a broader range of ages. Ten years ago our customer base at Roast was 90 per cent older men. Now we see as many people under 30 as over 30.”

James Goldsmith, leasing director of The Shard, said:

“London Bridge is one of the capital’s oldest and most authentic business districts reinvented for the 21st century.

The attraction of London Bridge for businesses looking for a new base was best summed up by FutureBrand’s Simon Williams:

“It’s the melting pot of everything that makes London Bridge more like New York than anywhere else in London. It’s like Manhattan.”

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