Purpose, founded by Dan Cohen, specialises in an occupier sector that WeWork and its peers largely bypass: genuine creatives. Purpose Group tenants throughout its 320,000 sq ft portfolio are more likely to be fashion designers than financial planners, sculptors than strategists and painters than planning consultants, although financial planners, strategists and planners are among the tenant mix.
What they have in common is that these are businesses with a budget, and a serious purpose (as the group name suggests), and the use of a complimentary beer tap and some super-expensive sofas comes low on their list of must-have priorities.
Words: David Thame
Purpose started a couple of years ago with a 30,000 sq ft office building in London Bridge that was earmarked for redevelopment. The business has now expanded into three new venues in Clerkenwell, Bethnal Green and King’s Cross and will soon be making a splash in Hackney Wick and Tottenham. If predictions about the importance of neighbourhood are right, and more workspace will be needed outside traditional central business districts, Purpose provide a magnificent example of how this might work.
And the key discovery made by Dan and his team is that money matters: in the coworking market of the future, transparency around pricing will matter more than justifying overpriced serviced offerings which, they believe, was typical of the overcooked pre-coronavirus coworking market. The woes of WeWork simply make the point, Dan insists.
‘Yes it has obviously been difficult for the coworking sector, but the difficulty only emphasises the need for what my business does, which is truly affordable flexible floorspace, aimed not just at well-funded start-ups, but operators in all categories.
‘I think, because we cover a broader spectrum of tenants than many coworking operators, we’ve been more resilient during the pandemic. Our occupiers need the physical space we provide more than in some other coworking locations. For instance, a fashion designer needs their sewing machines around them.’