So how do developers/investors like Oxford respond to this shifting, kaleidoscopic marketplace? The answer seems to be to hedge your bets with a portfolio that includes a little of everything and, if possible, the best in class. And when you buy or build, do it big.
‘We’d like some new buildings and some existing buildings to work with – large floorplates matter because they ensure flexibility,’ he says. ‘We’ve been very successful in our central London developments, and now we want to refill our development pipeline. But there are limited opportunities in central London.’
Each location also needs to be judged against its capacity to make a big enough splash, because Oxford want to be able to set (rather than follow) the trend in their chosen sub-markets.
‘Globally, we like to focus on scale, and the best in each location, and that way we get to control the environment around our buildings, because that context is what drives the way our customers think,’ Henry says.
‘It’s around creating an environment with amenities that work for our buildings, and one of the challenges in London is that buildings in the city are generally quite small compared to other global cities. And you need scale to make amenities work at the right level. A 1 million sq ft building is rare in London, although common in other global cities.