Mark Dixon And IWG: The Start Of Another Terrible Week For Landlords

Posted on Sep 27, 2020. by NTI


What is the earliest ‘decent time’ to call someone on a Sunday morning?

Richard thought it was probably 6.30 and tried his luck dialling Neil’s phone. 

“Uuurggh ...” Neil groped around for a sentence and managed a noise. Richard took that as encouragement. 

“I’ve got the best idea,” Richard launched into his pre-planned opener  

”Even better than calling someone before the birds are up?” Neil tried. 

“What are businesses going to need most in the next five years?”

”Well, NTI are going to need a new director who can understand the concept of ‘the weekend’ and can read the time”, Neil ventured. “Am I close?”

”Flexible working space. It’s the next hot-desking. We buy up cheap office space - they’ll be loads of that to the pound in the coming years - and let it out to smaller businesses who want to buy working space by the metre. For them the advantage is being able to reduce their upfront spend on things such as outfitting and adapting an office, and the opportunity to benefit from fully maintained non-office areas such as coworking areas and breakout rooms. And bean bags ...” Richard knows Neil’s partiality for a bean bag in a work space. “It softens the edges,” he’s been known to say (no-one has any idea what he means by that).



”Rich, we’re a professional full service and training company ...”

”With ‘Innovation as Standard’,” Richard came back, weaponising NTI’s new by-line for the first time.

”With Innovation as Standard WITHIN the professional full service and training space. Where is this coming from?”

It turns out that Richard had read an article this morning (Sunday 27 September) about Mark Dixon, chief executive of IWG who likes to get his face really close to those of others when negotiating a deal. It’s fair to say that Dixon could be in a bit of a bad mood this month, IWG reporting a pre-tax loss of £176 million at the end of August, whilst claiming that it has spare liquidity of £830 million. In 2020 its shares have fallen by 42 per cent to £2.53, valuing the company at £2.6 billion.

This has clearly put Mr Dixon in a dark place and he has decided to take it out on this year’s ‘targets of choice’, landlords, these ones those of the Regus office space group, nestled close to the bosom of parent company, IWG. He has just decided not to do it by halves. He is a huge fan of the NTI newsroom and told Billy, over a particularly competitive ‘all-you-can-eat’ Chinese-themed lunch that he likes his pancakes with plum sauce on both sides. As a landlord he has raised the hackles of tenants, by only agreeing to reduce rents if they agree to sign up to longer leases, or agree to repay amounts underpaid later. As a tenant of over 500 Regus centres across the UK he has just announced that unless the company’s landlords agree to swingeing rent cuts he will dump the leases and/or start insolvency proceedings within days, effectivey terminating the leases, leading to all-new negotiations.

IWG told landlords through gritted teeth that last week it had won permission from the Royal Court of Jersey (where the company is legally based) to place the company into insolvency if landlords didn’t bow to the demands (and also call him ‘Lord of Darkness’ at meetings and on the headings of emails).

See? ‘In your face’ tactics.

The threat, for such it is, has infuriated property owners. “This was not about Covid, this was clearly pre-determined ... It is immoral at best,” a landlord said.

”Shut it, you mewling little pussy of a man,” Dixon growled back, taking out a cosh and slamming it down onto the table between them. It’s fair to say Dixon is not a man to be reckoned with. He took control of Regus in the early 1990s and has transformed it into a business with sales of £2.7 billion and 3,392 centres globally, 306 of them in the UK. Rumour has it that he buys his underwear in petite sizes, claiming that if he feels the squeeze so must those he deals with.

”Yeah, THAT’s the reason,” his wife said ruefully.

So, the beginning, it seems, of another ‘not very good week for landlords’. Now, go away and be quiet, Neil has just got back to sleep.







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