Aberdeen entrepreneur Charles Skene insisted yesterday it was a good time to invest £1.5million in a business centre expansion in the Granite City.
Speaking at the official opening for the newly extended site in Queen’s Gardens, he said companies linked to the oil and gas industry were keener than ever to find flexible accommodation.
And Mr Skene, whose family own and run business centres, serviced flats and Inchmarlo Retirement Village near Banchory, said north-east start-up firms were likely to flourish amid the downturn offshore.
The expansion of fully serviced office accommodation in Queen’s Gardens – increasing the size of the business centre by 50%, or 3,100sq ft – was made possible through the repurchase of No 8.
Mr Skene, 80, bought 6, 7 and 8 Queen’s Gardens – previously the Osborne Hotel – in 1963, using part of the terraced property to raise his family.
He also ran a photography business from there and let out the rest of the accommodation.
No 8 was sold a few years later but the Skenes bought it again in 2015, and it has since been renovated as an extension to Nos 7 and 8.
Mr Skene, Skene Group founder and chairman, is a professor of entrepreneurship at Robert Gordon University (RGU) among other leading business roles.
He said start-ups and their accommodation needs were close to his heart, adding: “8 Queen’s Gardens offers flexible office solutions, with no capital investment and minimal start-up costs.
“We will be offering start-ups a sliding rental structure – they pay nothing for the first three months, then phased rental increases over time before eventually reaching the market rate.
“Given the current business climate and looking to the future of Aberdeen, we need to offer suitable space and both financial and technological support to help firms grow.”
In 2002, RGU renamed its Centre of Enterprise the Charles P Skene Centre of Entrepreneurship in Mr Skene honour and three years later the entrepreneur was awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in recognition of his long involvement with business education.
Mr Skene and his wife, Alison, were joined at yesterday official opening of No 8 by their two daughters, group deputy chairman Jennifer Lindsay and director Pamela Norris, and son, business development director Richard, Aberdeen Provost George Adam and invited guests from the local business community.
Richard Skene said: “We keep a close eye on changing work patterns and the evolving needs of clients.
“To help meet this new demand, we have we have invested £1.5million in the renovation of 8 Queen’s Gardens, which represents a 50% increase in floor space.”
Skene Business Centres operates two other sites in Aberdeen at 23 Rubislaw Den North and 96 Rosemount Viaduct.