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Date Published: 22nd November 2018
Somerset business park’s “grow on space” proves the perfect place for a green-fingered business to expand – and expand again
A national “interior landscape” franchisor company based in Somerset has just doubled its head office space to cope with continuing growth – and to allow for planned future expansion.
Urban Planters, who relocated to Somerset from Yorkshire following an MBO in 2004, were the first tenants of the Stables Business Park in Rooksbridge when it opened, going on to double its accommodation in 2008. Now it is the largest independent specialist interior landscaper within the UK, with some 16 franchisees nationwide under its belt - between them employing a total of 181 staff.
With more growth anticipated in the coming year, the company has had to double its head office space once again.
“We've been riding the wave of popularity for companies looking to improve the wellbeing of their staff through the imaginative use of plants and greenery in the workplace,” says the company’s Director Alan Page.
“Biophilic design operates on the principal that people are connected to the natural world, so having greenery and natural materials around them can create a sense of wellbeing – something that’s as important in the workplace as it is in the home. It also reduces a business’s carbon footprint.
“Office greenery has come a long, long way from the ubiquitous sad-looking pot plant in the corner! Today we offer everything from desk top plants through to interior and exterior greenwalls… and everything in between – and our business is going from strength to strength.
“Sales went up by 10% last year, and this year we anticipate a further 5-10% increase. In total, we and our franchisees are now looking after more than half a million plants.”
Key to Urban Planters continuing to remain at The Stables as it has expanded its operation has been the flexible nature of the business space available there. “Each time we explained to the owner that we were looking to expand he has been able to reassign us to another, larger building. Being able to ‘put down roots’ here has been a major factor in retaining our all-important support staff.”
The first building that Urban Planters took - the former “Tack Room” - was just 325 sq ft. Their second office ‘The Granary’ was 640 sq ft, and the one they are just moving into, “The Forge”, is 1,352 sq ft. That will enable them to take on a further 5-10 office-based staff in the future.
Says Tom Dalley, owner of The Stables, “Finding office space which can keep pace with your ambitions can be one of the biggest and most disruptive challenges that a forward-looking company can face.
“With 18 different offices here occupying a total of 13,000 sq ft, all let on flexible five-year leases and served by 100Mbs fibre optic broadband, we can usually ‘shuffle the pack’ and help our tenants grow – and sometimes to consolidate their operations. We also have the option to provide more design and build grow-on space should it ever be needed, making use of the available land here.”
From Urban Planter’s perspective, the recent growth spurt is just one more step in their continuing expansion: “We are actively developing our international franchise opportunities in mainland Europe, so that the Urban Planters brand may become as strong abroad as it is here in the UK. Hopefully that will create even more jobs here in Somerset!”