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Styles & Wood CEO confident on post-referendum office market

Office refurbishment and fit-out is set to boom in the post-referendum market, according to the CEO of one of the UK’s leading fit-out firms.

In an interview with Construction News, Styles & Wood CEO Tony Lenehan said that, with a number of commercial developments now paused or on hold in the aftermath of June’s EU referendum, “doing nothing doesn’t appear to be an option any more” for office development.

“When you introduce a pause in speculative development, you don’t then turn it back on again a week later. It will come back, but it might be in a year, or longer,” he said.

“Whilst that happens, people will refurb and refit, driven by lease events, but also driven by the need for building efficiency.”

Last week, the investor behind 22 Bishopsgate [pictured] asked its remaining backers whether they want to go ahead with the construction of the scheme after the EU referendum vote.

Axa Investment Managers-Real Assets will give the project’s co-investors three options regarding the site: start construction this year as planned; delay; or sell it.

Mr Lenehan added that, whether refurbishments were driven by the need for IT improvement or energy efficiency improvement, there would still be a growing market across the board for commercial developments.

Major commercial fit outs that Styles & Wood has undertaken include a £4.4m refurbishment of the five-floor Grade A office development Citygate in Manchester for client Hermes Real Estate.

In a wide-ranging interview with Construction News, Mr Lenehan reveals how the firm has turned itself around after seeing its turnover fall from over £250m to under £100m during the recession, and how it is priming itself for growth in a post-referendum market.

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