It’s hard to believe it but BusinessLodge is 20 years old this month! You may not realise that BusinessLodge was built as part of a European funding initiative with Bury Council, designed to boost the Borough’s economy – and it’s certainly done that! Have a read of our blog to discover more about how BusinessLodge started.
BusinessLodge is a family business and our parent company is Haircloth Weaving & Finishing Company limited, formed in 1951 as typical Lancastrian weaving business using horsehair to produce fabric used for the interlining in men’s jackets and coats.
The company developed and extended to different types of fabric, including non-woven materials and the use extended to other garments and a variety of other products such as baby buggies – and even to improve the harvesting of bananas in Latin American plantations!
So, how did we get from bananas to business?!
Bury Council had a long-established relationship with Haircloth Ltd and asked for their support in launching several ventures which they wanted to develop within the Borough of Bury. One was the development of flexible workspace and the Council had received an allocation of European Grant aid towards such a development. Europe had only given them 10 weeks to locate an organisation prepared to build such facilities and to prepare a detailed business case for it – and if they couldn’t do that, the funding would be lost and Bury would be considered less favourably for future European funding.
Initially Haircloth declined to become involved, having no knowledge of the requirements for flexible workspace and felt there was insufficient time to put a detailed project together. However, the Council urged them to reconsider and, because of the ongoing good relationship, Haircloth agreed and set about putting a project together with help from the Council. The result was that the proposal was accepted by Europe for grant aid and Haircloth built Europa House, its first venture into the business centre world – and BusinessLodge was born.
During the construction period, Haircloth researched the needs of the business centre market by visiting a number of centres in the UK and US along with advice from the recently formed trade body – The Business Centre Association – in the UK.
From the beginning, the decision was taken to offer the highest quality of facilities in the belief that good quality facilities and service would attract great businesses to the building. This included some pretty revolutionary installations:
- Installing the Internet for every office. After six months we regretted doing this as virtually none of our clients made any use of it and after 12 months we even started discussing whether we should remove the facility. How things change and today we couldn’t operate without it – today Bury has a superfast main line with back up line which fails over seamlessly with additional resilience of being in different exchanges, buildings and suppliers.
- We set up a training room with 12 computers which we believed would help train and familiarise in-house and external clients with the use of IT – something unheard of in the industry at that time.
- When we opened our car parking space was limited and, as part of ensuring we offered the best facilities to clients, we gradually acquired adjoining land and today we have more than ample car parking for all clients and visitors.
The next phase
With Europa House off to a flying start, we quickly wanted to expand. Imperial house was originally built by Haircloth in the 1970s as a production unit but had subsequently been sold and used by Kodak for printing photographs from photographic film in the pre-digital camera age. At the time Europa House became fully occupied, Imperial House, which had just been comprehensively refurbished became available and so BusinessLodge expanded its serviced office offering into there
With the success of many of our clients who had joined us taking a very small office, the requirement from them for expansion space continued and one of the companies Haircloth had incubated also expanded from Minerva House and Barcroft House to new premises elsewhere in Bury. This enabled us to expand our serviced office facilities into those two additional buildings.
Today, BusinessLodge is the jewel in Bury’s business centre crown. We’re a thriving community of successful organisations, and there is no denying the warm and welcoming feel to everyone who comes through our doors.
Over the years we’ve added to our facilities to meet the modern business needs, with a professionally equipped gym, eateries and a state-or-the-art phone system.
In 2019, we fulfilled ambitious expansion plans with the opening of new premises in Staffordshire to offer innovative office solutions to Stoke’s growing business community. The new building, Trent House, has been finished to an extremely high spec and offers modern serviced offices, virtual offices, meeting rooms and conference facilities, along with catering and relaxation options. We’ve developed a great camaraderie between our two centres and the Stoke team have fitted right in!
We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve built and we feel we’ve achieved our objective of creating a great place where people really want to come to work – and businesses thrive.
Here’s to the next 20 years!