July 9, 2020 / 7:22 AM / a month ago

Britain's Workspace sees demand improving in June

FILE PHOTO: Bicycles are seen parked in front of The Frames, an office building owned by Workspace Group Plc, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, June 5, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Newman

(Reuters) - British shared-office space provider Workspace Group (WKP.L) said on Thursday customer enquiries jumped in June as lockdown restrictions eased, while warning of short-term pressure on occupancy levels.

Government-mandated lockdowns have forced companies across the globe to adopt work-from-home policies, triggering a spike in defaults in rents owed to office-space providers and heavily weighing on occupancy rates.

“As our existing customers review their space requirements, we have seen like-for-like occupancy fall by 3% to 90% in the quarter and we expect to see continued pressure on occupancy levels in the short-term,” Chief Executive Officer Graham Clemett said in a statement.

Customer enquiries for spaces in June jumped to 765 from 272 in April, the London-based company said.

Workspace, which has a customer base of over 3,000 businesses, including Hugo Boss, Nutmeg and Bloom & Wild, said customer enquiries slumped by more than half in the first quarter due to the lockdown, while lettings dropped by 64%.

A 50% rent reduction offer from the start of the lockdown period in late-March ended in June, the company said.

The FTSE-250 listed company, which competes with U.S.-based WeWork, said it opened two new business centres in June and expects to complete another three projects during the remainder of the current financial year.

Shares of Workspace were little changed in early trade.

Reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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