CEO, Arterial Group
Grant Powell is the CEO at Arterial Group, a real estate collective that brings a hospitality focus to challenges surrounding today’s flexible economy. The organization partners with landlords to help activate spaces through hospitality, design, and technology. Grant works closely with COO and business partner, Ola Akinyemi, to provide white label services in the areas of design, fit-outs, builds, and operational management for some of the largest landlords in Europe. Notably, their customers include Grosvenor, an international organization that develops, manages, and invests to improve properties and places across many of the world’s leading cities.
Your company is addressing a very crucial need in real estate! How did you get started in the industry?
We were actually early pioneers in the coworking sector. At the same time WeWork was growing in the United States, we were starting a similar business in the UK. Both mine and Ola’s first experience in the commercial real estate industry was in this line of business, helping it scale and grow. We’ve now been working in the space since 2013, and our experience spans over 13 buildings and with 3,500 member companies in our network. We’d been operating at a large scale for a while, and then Grosvenor approached us to help them white label our services for their 25 Eccleston Yards property, now known as 25 EP, which is their first foray into the flexible working space.
Before we dive into the Grosvenor project, have you always worked on office space? Are there other industries you pull experience from?
We’ve been in the luxury hotel sector for a number of years, working with many of those types of clients. However, office space is our ‘sweet spot’ for what we do. More importantly, it is the flexible, small-to-medium-sized businesses ranging from two to around 100 employees. But, of course, 25 EP is larger than that. It is 30,000 square feet of space and in the heart of Belgravia – a really central location. When we work on projects like these, we bring those high-level elements and services from hotels into the location. We make sure there are concierge teams to book reservations for you, or to sign for all your goods. We also use our experience to serve as an extension of your company, to set you apart from everyone else.
Tell me a little more about 25 EP.
This is where the innovation of Grosvenor as a landlord really comes into play. Eccleston Yards is just over four years old and it’s a part of Grosvenor’s placemaking in Belgravia. Essentially, Eccleston Yards used to be an office building and a car park – a very disused unit. Grosvenor brought it all together to create a place where people can truly live, work, and play.
Typically, what would anchor a retail development would be a supermarket, a Marks & Spencers, or a John Lewis department store. However, 25 EP was the first time that coworking actually anchored a retail development. At full occupancy, it will have about 600 people plus those that already work in the buildings. Additionally, underneath and around the development there are gyms, restaurants, cafes, and shops. It really is a wonderful place for businesses to come and thrive. They can work in the mornings and go to the gym in the evenings, attend a yoga class, or even meet their clients for lunch at one of the nearby restaurants or cafes.
Since you work so closely with Grosvenor, why do you think they care about the workplace experience and how does it relate to the flexible spaces you create?
Grosvenor is one of the largest privately-owned real estate businesses here in the UK. Their business is about 400 years old, so they think in centuries. For Grosvenor, it’s not only about what they can do for this decade, it’s about the next decade, and the decades after that. That’s why their take on workplace experience is not just about running a nice building and making it beautiful; it’s about longevity. Eccleston Yards has had many phases to its launch. It’s about creating a destination that can be enjoyed for not only the workspace clients but the wider community as a whole.
They’re really thinking about the people using their space. If they’re spending a lot of time in a given place, they’re going to need more restaurants, a hotel, and more retail. Grosvenor thinks really holistically, and in this instance, there is a lot of emphasis, effort, and money being invested in Belgravia. It’s probably one of the most sought-after real estate post codes in London. You’re right next to Buckingham Palace, and you’re right in the heart of it all, but it’s an enclave that not many people know about. It’s about putting Belgravia on the map.
When it comes to projects like these, there’s obviously a need for technology – that’s why you’re partnering with HqO. From your perspective, what challenges does 25 EP face that technology can solve?
There are many problems technology can solve, and to be honest, we’ve seen a lot of platforms try to solve them. Not to be biased, but HqO is exceptional from a UX perspective. I’m digressing a bit, but there’s one use-case that really springs to mind on how easy it was to work with your team. We have another business that is based near us called First Table. If you book a restaurant and you’re the first in, they give you 50% off your bill. So, we introduced it to our HqO team and they loved the idea.
They very quickly, in the span of a few weeks, rolled out that feature across your platform – not only for the 25 EP tenants, but for the wider HqO tenants. That’s exceptional, because you have an idea that generally can take months to put into practice, and we’ve been able to do that in a really short timeframe. The other element is being able to have rich data. We’re a hospitality business at our core, and we want to make sure that our members have a wonderful service experience here. The HqO app gives us those insights, and helps us be at the highest level of service to our members. It’s really unique.
What interests me is that you mentioned that Belgravia isn’t well-known. Have you been using the communication tools within the app to connect with tenants and showcase the surrounding neighborhood?
We have! Eccleston Yards is a new development, so it’s about getting that on people’s radar. Literally only one street away you have thousands upon thousands of people a day coming into Victoria Station. So it’s mostly been about utilizing the app to get people to navigate and find their way around; and when they get to Belgravia, we want them to understand everything that’s in Eccleston Yards. Allowing people to download the app, and then navigate through and find all of the available information is truly invaluable for people.
Is there another part of the platform that has been particularly useful?
For us, because we’re a hospitality business, we have a “Getting to Know” section in our app. We represent all of our team members who run this building, and each of us can share a little bit of insight about us and our team to make it more personal for our members. Looking at the data, that remains one of the most viewed sections on our app. I think having something that is digital, that still makes the experience more human by connecting people to the service delivery team here, is pretty cool. I really like that tech and human interaction!
This has been truly wonderful! Anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?
As our website states, 25 EP is where leading hospitality meets flexible working. Beautiful buildings and design are a given; the workplace is really about the location and all the offerings you get from it. Many companies are learning that they cannot drive innovation from home. People are following a hybrid work model now, but they still need that interaction that you get when you come into the office.
We’ve been seeing a lot of inquiries come in for utilizing space on a flexible basis. A lot of the offices here are now set up for coworking, where people can choose a space and the social aspect of work when they need to. By using the app, we can create real value in these spaces. We are able to promote things, help companies socialize together, and make sure that we encourage that human connection we’ve all missed out on. We also offer exclusive perks and deals to our members, to allow people to take advantage of local restaurants and retail. These are the types of things that create true value for the workforce.
Conversations was a monthly blog series that featured the managers and partners who use HqO at the property level — the things they saw, the challenges they had, and how they thought technology impacted them. You can still catch these stories by subscribing to its podcast counterpart: Conversations with HqO. For more information about The Arterial Group, click here. For more information about how HqO can elevate your workplace experience strategies, schedule a free demo today.