When an international property search and investment firm wanted to secure a new UK base, it took advantage of easy in/out workspace arrangements to meet its needs.


Homes or Houses, which provides a service to British expatriates or foreign individuals who are looking to acquire UK property, currently has more than £16m worth of assets under its management, including over 250 houses across the North East.


Led by founders and directors Jackie Fitzgerald and Michael Collins the company’s 20-strong team also provides property sourcing, refurbishment and management services as part of a range of outsourced services that also features advice in lettings and taxation.


As entrepreneurs in the fast-paced property sector, Jackie and Michael, whose clients are based around the world, must be able to react quickly to a constantly evolving economic landscape. And this goes for their own workspace requirements, which is why they decided to base their business at The Office Co.’s Metropolitan House upon returning from the Middle East to their native North East in 2012.


Currently occupying 200 sq. m of space across four offices, Homes or Houses benefits from an all inclusive lease arrangement that follows the ebb and flow of its own commercial fortunes; providing the flexibility required to accommodate expansion and, at times, business ramp-up.


Jackie Fitzgerald said: “The Office Co.’s rental packages are extremely versatile, very much suited to the needs of a nimble-footed SME like us, which works in an unpredictable investment and property world.


“What’s more, Metropolitan House with its close road links, is ideally located for access to our regional portfolio, and has ample safe and secure onsite parking for the team and the associated maintenance and lettings fleet.”


Workspace at Metropolitan House combines the suppleness required for expansive and ambitious small enterprises through tailor made, added value packages. These include superfast broadband, a manned reception, inbound call handling and deliveries among other infrastructure services.


Jackie, who has long term plans for the development of her business from Metropolitan House, feels that she benefits from an Office Co. team that nurtures a friendly and happy work environment.

She also sees landlord and owner Lynn Gate as a kindred spirit: someone else running an SME and who therefore understands the demands and pressures on businesses like Homes or Houses.


“Lynn is very professional and has a great rapport with people, listening carefully to what they want, and responding accordingly. Her open-minded and customer-first approach has enabled us take on additional space seamlessly over the years and evolve quickly from being a start-up.”


Services at the Office Co. are built around clients, who range from sole traders and start-ups to established small businesses. Indeed, it’s the ability to modify and move with the times, offering flexible packages around easy in/out leases, which differentiates the firm from others in a sector renowned for restrictive practices.


Jackie Fitzgerald said the ethos and rolling contractual arrangements are aligned to own her strategic vision for a business that will see new financial investment as the driver for growth in the coming 18 months.


“We anticipate significant expansion in the future, but the degree of uncertainty that this will undoubtedly bring can also be offset by the certainty of being at Metropolitan House - a great place to do business.”



SMEs are a key driver of economic growth but the creative, collaborative and innovative forces propelling them forward often require the benefits of flexible managed and service office space to accommodate their requirements. Lynn Gate, managing director of The Office Co looks at how one of her tenants benefits from life at Metropolitan House in Gateshead.


According to the Enterprise & Social Research Council, SMEs contribute 47% of revenue to the UK economy. In the North East, start-ups and small enterprises are prevalent, playing a key role in boosting productivity – but they need specialist support to expand their businesses and increase impact.


They need to be lean, keen and agile to succeed; and the same can be said of their workspace requirements, according to The Office Co. tenant Amy Gray-Chilton, who along with co-director Neil Wray, runs training provider companies N-Lighten and N-Able North East Ltd from 1,200 sq. m of commercial accommodation at Metropolitan House.


Amy and Neil are seeing their business flourish since relocating to six offices at The Office Co.’s site earlier in 2016. It’s a move that’s provided the capacity to expand the scope of adult health and safety, leadership and management, NCFE accredited qualifications and Nuco accredited First Aid, manual handling, and health and safety training courses provided to North East-based customers who include New Beginnings North East Ltd, which has a work force of over 300 employees.


A key requirement for Amy as she looks to sustain momentum is a supple, quality workspace environment that can be expanded to accommodate the needs of training teams and assessors when onsite delivering learning sessions.


In relocating to Metropolitan House, she said: “We needed somewhere that would provide high quality workspace but without all the usual associated costs, hassles and long term commitments that’s involved in renting our own dedicated offices.


“Coming to Metropolitan House has avoided all this in one simple, straightforward and financially advantageous move.”


Work space at Metropolitan House combines the flexibility required for a start-up with a practical and cost effective lease in a comprehensive package that allows the training provider to take advantage of hired facilities such as a reception, and tailored services which include inbound call handling and deliveries.


Amy also benefits from what she describes as the ‘great atmosphere’ at Metropolitan House, adding: “It’s a very friendly and happy environment, making it a fantastic place to work and run a business.


“The facility is extremely well run, welcoming and in a great location with easy access to main roads and ample onsite parking for customers. There’s an inclusive superfast broadband service that’s quick and reliable, while the service from Lynn and her team is never short of first-class.”


The Office Co. recognises that one size does not fit all and that the way to prosperity for tenants are all-inclusive packages centred around the values of a community driven business environment. This homespun approach works, providing an inspiring and creative hub in the heart of Gateshead where the ambition, drive and hard work of N-Lighten and N-Able’s directors pays dividends.


The month-to-month rolling contract arrangements on offer are aligned with Amy and Neil’s future plans, in particular the expansion of the workforce as training provision gears-up its activity over the next 12 months.


“We see 2017 as being an extremely busy year as we look to grow and expand our training provision. The need for flexible, cost effective office capacity will be central to achieving this; and I can think of no better place than Metropolitan House to provide this.” 



The Office Co., which is marking a decade in business this year, is eyeing further sector growth after letting more than 2,300 sq. ft. of commercial office space at its Metropolitan House site in Longrigg Road.


New deals have been secured with UK property specialists Homes or Houses, IT network firm SL Data, shipping company Schulte & Bruns UK Ltd, and commercial property cleaners, Let’s Clean North East Ltd.


They are relocating to Metropolitan House to take advantage of all-inclusive rental packages designed for businesses looking for short-term or highly flexible office space to accommodate expansion.


This is the latest success for The Office Co., which continues to achieve occupancy levels that are among the highest in the North East (85% – 90%) in the face of post-Brexit business uncertainty.


With current sales in excess of £300,000, the firm is supporting growth with investment in infrastructure services that include the latest superfast broadband services to deliver high-speed wireless connectivity for upwards of 50 tenants.


The plans are part of an ambitious strategy by owner Lynn Gate to double the size of the business in the next three years to meet the needs of start-ups, SMEs and other businesses.


She sees growth coming on the back of increasing demand for flexible office space that meets the specific needs of SMEs.


According to a report by the Enterprise & Social Research Council*, SMEs contribute 47% of revenue to the UK economy, playing a key role in boosting productivity – but need specialist support to expand their businesses and increase impact.


The Office Co. provides quality accommodation built around flexible all-inclusive rents and the core values of a community driven business environment.


Lynn Gate, who started the business in 2006, also works with commercial landlords and businesses to secure tenants for office space they have available for sub-letting.


Jackie Fitzgerald, founder and director at Homes or Houses, said they are looking forward to operating from Metropolitan House as the business expands.


She said: “We didn’t want to be locked into unworkable long-term rental agreements. We wanted to benefit from the flexible and cost-effective open door accommodation packages that Lynn and her team provide.


“In addition, the location of Metropolitan House is ideal for access to major roads both north and south, which suits our property business perfectly.”


Welcoming the new tenants, Lynn said that understanding and supporting the needs of the SME sector after 10 years in business has been the key to securing success.


“We will continue to target sector growth on the back of providing quality services and commercial accommodation. That’s why we have had clients stay with us since we opened Metropolitan House 10 years ago.


“Furthermore, with an emerging creative sector, we are committed to supporting like-minded business owners and managers who reflect our own core values and want to inspire and generate regional growth.”