Retail

Meeting now in aisle 14: Tesco pilots in-store flexible office space


Client meetings and emails could be picked up alongside a pint of milk and a box of eggs under a new deal between Tesco and flexible office operator IWG.

From later this month, the owner of office operator Regus is to test out a 3,800 sq ft flexible working area within Tesco’s New Malden supermarket, with room for 12 private desks, 30 co-working spaces and a meeting room.

The tie-up emerges as supermarkets look for new ways to fill space in stores where they once sold electrical goods, music or films now largely bought digitally. It is thought likely that Tesco will open more flexible offer space if the idea proves popular.

Louise Goodland, head of strategic partnerships at Tesco said: “We are pleased to be working with IWG to offer customers the chance to work more flexibly from their local Tesco. We are always looking to serve our customers and communities better and we will be interested to see how they respond to this new opportunity.”

The office venture, called Spaces, will join other Tesco partners including sports equipment seller Decathlon, Pets at Home, InPost parcel lockers, Holland & Barrett health food stores and the likes of Timpson and Vision Express, which have sprung up to fill spare supermarket space.

The deal also reflects a boom in flexible working space spurred on by months of pandemic restrictions that forced businesses to get more comfortable with allowing employees to work from home or elsewhere.

Facilities are springing up on local high streets and in redundant space in shopping centres, cinemas and airports as many businesses downsize their permanent office space permanently and allow workers to dial in from somewhere handier.

Electrical goods retailer Currys, for example, recently announced a deal under which more than 1,000 of its head office staff can use more than 50 sites run by rival office specialist WeWork in the UK.

As much as 30% of the UK office market could be made up of flexible space by 2030, according to property advisory firm JLL, compared with far less than 10% at present.

Research by IWG found that 72% of workers would prefer the ability to work flexibly, over returning to the office five days a week.

Mark Dixon, the founder and chief executive of IWG, said: “People don’t want to spend hours commuting every day and instead want to live and work in their local communities. A Tesco Extra in a suburban location, in the middle of a vibrant local community, is the perfect location for flexible office space.

“New locations in suburban areas will transform communities and are a response to the growing demand we are seeing from customers who want to live and work locally.”

IWG, which operates about 300 offices in the UK, is set to open neighbourhood working spaces in Twickenham, Sutton and the revamped Battersea Power Station, all in London this year. Upmarket rival Fora, which has 14 locations, is planning six more and is planning to merge with The Office Group, which operates from 44 buildings and has six more under construction.



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