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Wednesday 28 November 2018
by Jackie Emson

Meet the Member - Andrew Cooke from Bruntwood

Name of Business Wilderspool Park, Bruntwood

Who are you? Andrew Cooke, Bruntwood’s regional director for Manchester and Cheshire. Here at Wilderspool Park we have studio space and offices to let in the historic former Greenall’s Brewery in Stockton Heath. It’s home to over 50 thriving businesses, from small start-ups through to large multinational brands.

What sets you apart from the competition? A family-owned and run business, with a single-minded focus on creating the right places and spaces for businesses of all shapes and sizes to flourish. Whether it’s a single desk for a day, or a whole building for 25 years, Bruntwood prides itself on not just meeting but exceeding its customers’ needs. With an unrivalled track record in developing and managing properties across the UK’s regional cities, Bruntwood believes in acting as a property partner, not a landlord. Flexibility, sustainability and leaving places better than we find them are all part of our core values.

How did the business come about? Over 40 years ago, Mike Oglesby (then a young builder turned property developer) saw an opportunity. A derelict, run-down old gas meter factor in Bolton. To most, the building was a problem. An eyesore, structurally questionable, and no-longer fit for any real purpose. Mike saw things differently though. In fact, he saw things in quite the opposite way to most others. He saw potential. With a small amount of money raised from a business angel, and a huge amount of hands-on effort, he completely transformed the factory. He discovered something else as well; something unexpected. An incredible feeling of pride in having taken a place that was empty, disused and unloved, and creating something full of light, life and people. A place that was thriving again. And so, Bruntwood was born.

What are your main target markets? We have a variety of businesses here at Wilderspool Park from financial services, marketing agencies and interior designers to solicitors, physiologists and charities.

How long has your business been in existence? Bruntwood started in 1976.

How many staff do you employ? We have seven employees at Wilderspool Park and over 700 people across the whole Bruntwood company. 

Tell us one interesting thing about the business that might surprise us? We’re committed to having a wider effect on local communities and are passionate about adding vibrancy to the places we work in. That's why every year Bruntwood and the Oglesby family shareholders donate a figure in excess of 10% of profits to arts, charity; environmental and medical initiatives. This is more (in percentage terms) that Amazon, Google, Goldman Sachs and Microsoft donate annually!

What job or achievement makes you most proud? We work closely with our customers and each year manage to retain on average over 70%, at the end of their lease agreements. That’s close to twice the national average and something which just wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t put our customers businesses at the heart of what we do. Outside work I also recently became a father, that blew most other achievements out the water!

Where do you see the business being in five years? We have plans to grow the business in Manchester and the North West significantly over the next 3 years, but also seek to invest in some amazing facilities in our existing buildings, the likes of which just aren’t being developed outside London. They will be at the forefront of technology, wellbeing space and create an amazing environment for our customers to be in.

Why Warrington? Warrington has all the right dynamics to succeed; it’s got a strong and growing economy across diverse business sectors, pretty much unparalleled connectivity, as well as close access to the North West’s best educational facilities in Liverpool and Manchester.

Tell us one interesting thing about you that people might not know? (ie, hobbies, amusing fact, etc) I play drums and used to be in a band before committing to a professional career. We gigged across the country from London to Leeds, including a few gigs at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, which was a boyhood dream come true!

Brexit – good, bad, opportunity? I have to say I was a remainer and still believe being in the EU would have been better for the UK, it’s people and economy. That said, we now just need to get some clarity for small and medium business on what the departure agreement will be and focus on avoiding a no deal exit, which would be the worst outcome in my opinion.

Fantasy dinner party – which six people alive or dead would you invite? ● David Attenborough ● David Bowie ● Keith Richards ● Brian Cox ● Salvador Dali ● William Shakespeare