Beast in the East

Beast in the East: Why Shoreditch is tearing chunks out of Soho

In recent years, companies based in central London have slowly had their heads turned by the warm glow emanating from the East.

Leicester Square by night

Soho has always lured big names. Beautiful buildings in iconic locations. Fantastic transport links and unparalleled nightlife. So what has caused a growing number of these organisations to up sticks and relocate to East London? As with all business decisions, money has played the primary factor.

While cheap rents can be secured in almost all of London’s central fringes, Shoreditch offers increasing value for money to companies that have grown accustom to £70 per sq ft rentals. With rents averaging around half that of Soho, “Shoreditch remains a highly sought after location both for aspiring entrepreneurs and the large corporates” who want the creative kudos without the accompanying price tag. Financial benefits can be off-set, however, by other drawbacks.

Certain areas in London, while cheap, are relatively inaccessible or impractical: convenience is hugely important for the modern business. Traditionally, Soho has housed full networks of interconnected companies, making it easy for communication and interaction.

Being geographically adjacent to your partners and clients has always created efficient clusters and enticed similar brands to join. Soho has enjoyed years of prominence as London’s centre for advertising and PR as a consequence of global giants taking residence in W1.

So what has sparked the relocation trend seeing companies scrambling from West to East? Monetary incentives aside, what is it that is luring established names into ‘Tech City’?Shoreditch, once known for “gloomy-looking industrial buildings and high crime rates”, now symbolises the revival of East London that has happened over the last decade. Traditional creative and design industries have been joined by an influx of technology companies clustering around Silicon Roundabout.

Scores of young entrepreneurs and start-ups flocked to the cheap rents and fashionable quarters of East London, bringing with them ideas that will invariably shape the futures of their respective industries. A community is building up around Shoreditch that has rejected London’s traditionally corporate image.

As you walk from Liverpool Street towards Shoreditch, the suits melt away and are replaced by floral shirts and trilbies. Chains of restaurants and bars have been shown the door. Independent coffee shops and pop-ups line the streets. East London has reinvented the way work and socialising are perceived. Meetings are conducted over a cider at Boxpark. Lunch is eaten in a corrugated shed with plastic stools and graffiti ridden walls. And we love it!pubThere is a work-life balance in East London that is hard to find replicated elsewhere in the capital. Take Soho as a comparative example. If you work around Leicester Square, bustled by a sea of tourists on your way to Pret every lunchtime, the likelihood is that won’t be your favoured evening haunt.

In Shoreditch, the opposite is true. After a day of hard graft on Leonard Street, employees flock to one of the many local, quirky freehold establishments for a refreshing beverage. The community is simultaneously inclusive and insular – welcoming to newcomers whilst protective of its identity. Over the next few weeks, Shoreditch Office Space will take a comparative glance at Shoreditch and its counterparts around London. Perhaps we can explain why everyone wants to join us here…