Cornwall Commercial Property Research

30th March, 2015

We’ve teamed up with Business Cornwall magazine in 2015 to provide insights into the local business landscape.

The first project this year was on the subject of commercial property – to find out if the need for business premises in Cornwall is being met, both now and in the future. Also, what do businesses love about their premises and what are their gripes?

We conducted an online and telephone survey during February and March and here’s what 100 local businesses told us…

Businesses don’t move often

The research findings suggest that once businesses have found the right premises, they stay put for a considerable time – whilst a third (34%) had been at their current location for less than 5 years, 52% had been at their current location for more than ten years and 22% for 20 years or more.

The average length of time working from their current business location is 13 and a half years! The median figure is a third lower, at 10 years.

A quarter say premises are not fit for future needs

91% of businesses surveyed say that their current premises are suitable for their business needs now. 8% say no and 1% don’t know.

63% say they are suitable for their future needs, but 24% say not (13% don’t know). Those in offices were more likely than those in industrial or retail space to say their premises are not fit for their future needs.

The main reasons given for premises not being suitable for the future include:

  • too small (70%)
  • wanting premises with capacity/option to grow (37%)
  • wanting their own dedicated premises (19%)
  • wanting to be better located near customers/suppliers (11%)
  • too expensive (11%)
  • needing better transport links (11%)

Qualified commercial property consultants are important…

Where go for CP help

59% say they would go to an estate agent with a commercial property arm for help in finding commercial property. 42% would ask personal / business contacts and 27% would contact the business location directly. 7% would do an online search.

Just under a third (31%) have actually used a commercial property agent in Cornwall. Miller Commercial, Scott Burridge and Vickery Holman are most popular amongst survey respondents:

CP agents used

What you need to know about moving business

36% of businesses have moved premises and for 25% it all went exactly to plan. For the others, the problems typically experienced were:

  • Transferring telecoms / internet access (56%)
  • Disruption to ‘business as usual’ (44%)
  • Took much longer than expected (33%)
  • Cost much more than expected (31%)
  • Moving furniture / equipment etc. (17%)

The average cost to businesses in moving was £9,500 (including staff time to make the change). The range of cost is wide – with some saying it cost nothing to move and for a couple of businesses, over £50,000!

Location is still king

The most important thing about choosing business premises is – unsurprisingly – location, amongst 43% of business respondents. Next most popular was the cost (17%) and size of premises (16%). Good communications, i.e. broadband speed was ranked more highly (at 8%) than convenience for staff and having similar businesses nearby to network with (both at 3%).

Just under a third (29%) of businesses surveyed have staff working from home and a further 9% in emergency/contingency situations.

What do people love about where they work in Cornwall?

Overwhelmingly, the thing people love most about where they work from now is the location and countryside/coastal views. Convenience and a good commute are also cited, as well as working in ‘nice’, modern office space.

“Moved business to Cornwall 10 years ago and still loving easy access to outdoor environment and far less road traffic congestion. It is the best move I’ve ever made, literally.” – Andrew Kristoffy, Go24Group Ltd

“It’s a really lovely building and a great place to work.  It has lots of people and businesses to collaborate with and it’s a really nice environment to meet clients and prospective clients in.” – Clare Rutt, Limited

…and what are the biggest gripes?

Infrastructure and communication issues come top of the list – access, traffic congestion, transport links, parking and lack of superfast broadband:

“If our rail and air infrastructure was better it would allow for easier travel. Being a regional office for a national business comes with its logistical challenges.” – Anon

“Still waiting for fibre optic broadband; we have it both ends of the street, but not along the street where we need it.” – Mike Jarvis, Westcountry Quality Systems Ltd

People that work from home also have their own gripes:

“When one works from home, there is an unfortunate tendency on the part of friends and non-business colleagues (e.g. in voluntary organisations) to assume that one is a man of leisure, or able to abandon doing work at the drop of a hat to help out.” – Anon

”Takes up space in our home. Interruptions. Customers do not always view you as being professional. Customers expect to pay less for your services.”Anon

“Never away from work.” – Mark Stuart, Oceanside Business Machines

Another interesting factor was the availability of even more local business space:

“There is a general problem with availability of good office space spread out into smaller towns and villages near to homes: I would love to see professional high-quality single or twin room rented office space opened all over the county in rural areas, serviced with the now widely available high-speed internet, on a low-commitment licence contract, and at a competitive price.” – Andrew Kristoffy, Go24Group Ltd

“I would like to see further expansion of business parks in SE Cornwall, particularly Liskeard Business Park, and am interested in further development in our own right, but the land is not available at a sustainable cost commercially…” – Jim Lockyer, James Lockyer Associates Ltd

“I know there is office space available but in general it’s not in the right place or of the right quality. PIC is evidence if you build the right thing in the right place it will work.” –Sarah Trethowan, TRAC Services

Finally, and regardless of business location, the people (staff and customers) are mentioned amongst the things businesses love, but are also amongst the biggest gripes!

About the survey sample

Of the 100 businesses surveyed, 29% of businesses surveyed were located at home and 71% operated their main business at dedicated business premises.

For those that had business premises, 25% rented space from another company or organisation, 45% leased dedicated premises and 25% owned their own premises.

Type of tenure

39% of our survey respondents occupy office premises; 35% are in industrial premises and 18% retail.

For more information, call us on 01326 375705 or email