Client Success Stories: How Bowel Cancer UK Saved £1m+

By Jonathan Vanstone-Walker
Charity • Projects
10th April 24

Bowel Cancer UK is a growing charity doing crucial work to fight Bowel Cancer. It’s also making astute property decisions and massive savings on real estate.

When I last worked with the charity in 2018, the office landscape was totally different.

We acquired 5,000 sq. ft. in Workspace’s Edinburgh House in Kennington, South London. The location was commutable, and the building had just been refurbished to offer a communal café, shared meeting rooms, hotdesking, and a cool design. It was perfect for a charity that was working on its newly-merged culture.

I remember BCUK was worried that they had taken too little space at the time. But it worked well, and the communal areas offered a pressure release on busy days.

Then the pandemic happened, and remote work kicked in.

Staff were working well and were happy with the arrangement. Leaders recognised the fundamental shift in working patterns and embraced flex. Even once the pandemic was over, the office was under-used.

So, it made perfect sense that the leaders at Bowel Cancer UK wanted to use an upcoming lease break to review the situation. It was crucial that charity money was being used effectively, and the workplace was a hot debate:

  • Should they keep paying for office space in case people returned to the office en masse?
  • Or embrace a new, flexible way of working, taking less space and committing to hybrid for the long term?

TSP was appointed just a few weeks before the break notice date.

Jonah and I reviewed market options with BCUK, outlining the best available alternatives and their costs. We visited a handful of buildings from the list, which helped the SLT decide that a smaller office in the same building was the best choice.

We agreed terms for a new 2-year lease, which was much shorter and more flexible than the last lease. This trend is something I see across the whole office market as companies struggle to predict their future workplace needs.

Agreeing the new lease meant the break could be served with confidence.

But we didn’t just agree flexible new terms. TSP also negotiated away onerous break conditions, including a £20k penalty.

Break options can be a nightmare for tenants, so I worked hard with the legal team to ensure there were no hidden pitfalls and that the break dovetailed with the new lease.

I introduced BCUK to a professional team of Lawyers, Building Surveyors, and a charity-focused contractor. These were all people I’d worked with many times before and trusted to handle the work with care and responsibility.

Once the break was validated, BCUK oversaw a great value fit-out, featuring smaller meeting rooms, phone booths, and a kitchenette with breakout space.

The relocation generated more than £1m in savings, which are now being used to help fund cures for bowel cancer.

 Key takeaways:

  • Break options are fantastic opportunities to save – Don’t ignore them!
  • Start thinking about your strategy at least 6 months before the notice date.
  • Review the market to see whether there are better alternatives out there. I highly recommend tracking both flex and traditional options.
  • Smaller, higher-quality space can create huge savings while improve the staff experience. A real win-win.
  • Most importantly: Seek professional advice from a Lawyer to ensure your break option is served correctly. In my opinion, it is the best value you will ever get from your lawyer!


Thinking about your own property strategy?

Send me an email, call 020 7284 9040 for a chat, or connect with me on LinkedIn

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