Just weeks after a publicity drive to promote its new flexible workspace DeskLodge Reading is to close.
Bristol-based DeskLodge first opened over the first floor in Sovereign House in Vastern Road in December 2022 with the vacant first floor available for future use.
The firm brought in David Berry to lead the Reading team and in recent weeks began a drive to attract customers to its range of office suites, shared spaces and meeting rooms.
Speaking exclusively to Thames Tap, founder Tom Ball said he had had to accept the choice of location on the north side of the station had been ‘an horrific mistake’.
He said: “People just want to be on the right side of the train station. We still believe in Reading and I hope we can return in a different location.
“Basically, four competitors opened on the right side of the station which meant there were 10 competitors with space on the right side of the station.
“The team we had did all the right things but it was just too slow to build up and the only option was to retreat and hope to come back another day.”
He added: “Hot desking and meeting rooms had been going well but getting office people was incredibly tough.”
Mr Ball, who had also moved house to Reading because he likes the town so much, said a total of four people have been laid off.
He went on: “It’s not so much that we were bad but, as a location, when you’ve got 10 sites in the right place, who is going to look at the 11th in the wrong place?
“We were literally the wrong side of the tracks. We thought it was an amazing location, you could see the station out of the window, but we were on the wrong side.”
He said flexible workspaces needed to be either in central locations with no parking or further away with lots and Sovereign House proved to be somewhere between.
Mr Ball regretted the loss of what he called fantastic staff in Reading and said a key mistake was not employing Mr Berry and his team earlier.
“We should have hired David before we started so his team could work their magic sooner,” he added.
By contrast, DeskLodge’s central Bristol centre continues to succeed. It accommodated 70 people on its first day.
Mr Ball said: “Bristol filled almost as soon as we could build it.”
In a statement to Thames Tap, managing director Jamie Ellis said: “We brought DeskLodge to Reading, believing our product would be a success and it would disrupt the current serviced office and co-working scene in the town.
“We have given it our all, invested in the workspace, built a product we’re proud of, and added an amazing team to run the space.
“But unfortunately, we believe we chose the wrong building and have struggled to make Sovereign House an operational success – despite an exceptional team. We hope to return to Reading in the near future.”
The Reading office’s final day will be Thursday, August 31.
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