Create Finance Makes New Home At Friar Gate Studios

A specialist mortgage broker has made its fourth move within the Connect Derby portfolio of managed workspaces, which is designed to give businesses the flexibility to upsize and downsize according to their business lifecycle.

Create Finance, which was founded in 2015 by experienced mortgage broker Gindy Mathoon, has taken advantage of the relaxation of rules allowing non-creatives to take office space at Friar Gate Studios and moved his 23 strong team of brokers to the headquarters of the Connect Derby scheme.

The company started life at Riverside Chambers on Full Street, which was the subject of a £2m refurbishment in 2015. Over the next three years its achieved significant growth – expanding from one to two offices and employing more than 15 mortgage brokers and 11 admin staff.

In June 2018, the company expanded still further taking over the historic Shot Tower building on the Morledge – with the creation of twelve new jobs.

The advent of the pandemic prompted a rethink of the company’s accommodation strategy and the decision to adopt a hybrid working approach, resulting in a move away from the three storey Shot Tower building to offices at Friar Gate Studios.

This will enable staff to make better use of their time, working from home, but able to come into the office for meetings and training.

Create Finance works with a range of customers – from the self-employed, contractors and professionals to people with adverse credit ratings.

Commenting on the move to Friar Gate Studios, director Gindy Mathoon, said:

“What we like about being with Connect Derby is the flexibility. This is our fourth office at Connect Derby, and we wouldn’t consider going anywhere else.

“Over the years, we have developed a tremendous working relationship with Ann and her team. In fact, when we told Ann we needed a bigger space at Friar Gate Studios than was available, she gave us her own office!

“We like the managed office space and the flexible tenancy agreement. Services like health and safety around the building are taken care of. If there are any issues, we just report it and it’s taken care of by the building manager, allowing us to focus on our day-to day business.

“Previously we had team of brokers working across the UK supported by local admin staff. When the pandemic hit, everyone reverted to working from home, so we no longer needed all the space at Shot Tower.

“Staff morale remains key, though, so maintaining an office will enable our admin team and brokers to touch base on a regular basis.”

Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, added:

“We’re delighted to have been able to facilitate Create Finance’s expansion and changes within the business over the past seven years and are delighted they have found a new home at Friar Gate Studios.

“The relaxation of rules which enable non-creatives from the supply chain to the creative industries to take space at Friar Gate Studios and Sadler Bridge Studios has proved very popular and resulted in a dynamic and diverse community of tenants at both workspaces.”

Head of Connect Derby Wins Regional Leadership Award

Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, has been recognised for her work supporting local businesses during the pandemic at the East Midlands Leadership Awards 2022.

Ann, who joined Derby City Council in 2003 and has been managing the Connect Derby scheme since 2014, won the Public & Third Sector Award at this year’s awards, which took place at the Crowne Plaza in Nottingham.

The East Midlands Leadership Awards, which are organised by Business Desk, celebrate the leaders throughout the region that set a shining example for people within their organisations. Winners of the awards have had a positive impact on both their employees and the wider community.

The Public & Third sector award honours those leaders who have been innovative and adapted successfully when faced with immense pressure over the last few years.

Ann is the driving force behind the Connect Derby scheme. She leads an 18 strong team to manage seven successful managed workspaces whilst also supporting tenants whose businesses and livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic.

Over the past two years Ann and her team have been at the forefront of the city’s economic recovery, helping to rebuild confidence and providing businesses with the support, guidance, and flexible accommodation they need to get back on their feet again.

During the pandemic, Ann also took over the management of the historic Derby Market Hall, putting in place procedures to support traders during a period of transition caused by the effects of the pandemic and the multimillion-pound transformation of the Market Hall.

Connect Derby’s recent annual business community survey underlines the results of Ann and her team’s hard work, with a massive 97% of respondents agreeing that Connect Derby meets or exceeds their expectations for the support it provides.

Connect Derby also maintained its ISO 9001 certification for another year, which reinforces its commitment to putting its customers first and highlights its dedication to continuous improvement.

Despite the current trading conditions, occupancy levels at Connect Derby remain at more than 79%, with 5% currently under offer.

Commenting on the award win, Ann said:

“It is such a privilege to be awarded the Public & Third Sector Award at this year’s East Midlands Leadership Awards.

“This award is given to leaders who have driven a cultural change in their organisation, which has been a key focus of mine given the shift in the managed workspace sector as a result of the pandemic.

“We have created a range of new packages for tenants, from fully furnished offices to hybrid working to make sure that all tenants are satisfied with our services.

“A huge thanks to the Connect Derby team for all their hard work. I look forward to continuing and developing my leadership skills at Connect Derby.”

Sam Metcalf, editor of The Business Desk, added:

“Firstly, congratulations to all our winners and shortlisted companies. The standard of this entries to the Leadership Awards this year was stronger than ever, and the judges had the toughest time picking a shortlist – never mind a winner.

“I’d like to extend my thanks to them – and everyone else who had a hand in making the East Midlands Leadership Awards such a success.”

Councillor Jonathan Smale, Cabinet Member for Finance, Assets and Digital Services, said:

“I am delighted that Ann has been recognised for her strong and innovative leadership skills, which have helped to establish Connect Derby as Derby’s leading managed workspace provider and brought huge economic benefits to the city.

“Over the past two years, Ann has been a trusted source of support for tenants whose businesses and livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic. Ann is an inspirational figure to her staff, those she mentors, and to the wider business community. She continues to go above and beyond to support SMEs and start-ups which are vital to Derby’s continued economic recovery.”

Connect Derby Gets Seal of Approval from Tenants In Annual Business Community Survey

Connect Derby, the city’s leading managed workspace provider, has published the results of its 2022 business community survey – and the statistics highlight the valuable role Connect Derby has played in helping tenants recover from the impact of the pandemic.

The annual survey measures the levels of service Connect Derby provides across all areas of its operation – from the quality of its workspaces and IT services to security and operational communication.

This year, the survey focused heavily on how Connect Derby has helped its 200 plus tenants get back on their feet again as they return to the office following the various local and national lockdowns in 2021.

Connect Derby received an 82% response rate from office tenants surveyed across the seven diverse buildings in its portfolio – Friar Gate Studios, Kings Chambers, Sadler Bridge Studios, Marble Hall, Riverside Chambers, Shot Tower and the iHub innovation centre on Infinity Park.

A massive 97% of respondents said Connect Derby meets or exceeds their expectations for the support it provides, an increase of 7% from last year.

96% of tenants reported that communications from the management team met or exceeded their expectations, an increase of 2% from last year.

The management team maintained communication with tenants to provide support and guidance throughout the lockdowns and restrictions of 2021, assisting them with applications for Covid grants and loans, addressing queries and helping them stay open for business. Connect Derby staff also regularly checked on the health and wellbeing of tenants.

95% of tenants said Connect Derby meets or exceeds their expectations, with 91% saying they would recommend Connect Derby to other businesses looking for managed workspace in the city.

Connect Derby has been supporting tenants return to the office by introducing new, flexible ways of working. In May 2021, furnished offices were introduced at flagship building, Friar Gate Studios in response to the changing working environment brought on by the pandemic. Offices reached 89% occupancy in less than two months.

92% of respondents said Connect Derby workspaces were clean, safe, and secure buildings to work in. Last year a bespoke COVID-19 induction programme was devised and implemented across all buildings. Connect Derby has continued to operate with some Covid measures in place such as hand-sanitising stations and social distancing signage.

84% of businesses said the IT network, internet access and Wi-Fi services meets or exceeds their expectations.

Connect Derby offers all tenants superfast Wi-Fi and telephony services allowing businesses to communicate with customers effectively. This has been particularly valuable to businesses who need to communicate with staff who are working from home.

Commenting on this year’s survey results, Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, said:

“The last 12 months have been tricky, with many businesses trying to get on their feet again as we come out of the pandemic, so we’re really pleased to have received such positive service ratings.

“I’d like to thank all tenants for being honest in their assessment of our services. We’re committed to providing all our tenants with the highest possible levels of services and support and will continue to work with businesses to help with their recovery in any way we can.”