pretince

"We don't have an office right now, so bear with me for this pitch."


Buffeted by crises that have seen off its former CEO and sent its share price tumbling, listed firm Ince Gordon Dadds is ditching its London office midway through its lease, RollOnFriday can reveal.

The firm has not yet acquired new premises, and staff have been told it is likely they will have to work from home while a deal for another office is finalised.

Gordon Dadds inherited 35,000 square feet of Aldgate Tower when it acquired Ince & Co in 2018, with 14 years left to run on the lease. After Covid poleaxed office working, the firm closed one of its two floors in 2021 at a cost of £3.2m.

Adrian Biles, then the firm's CEO, said that "a greater degree of working from home for at least the medium term" meant it was only going to re-open one of the floors following lockdown, and that it would terminate the lease in October if it couldn't sub-let the space.

Now it is pulling the trigger on both floors. Ince emailed staff last week to say it was "delighted" to inform them that the firm was moving out of Aldgate Tower to a new office space at 60 Gracechurch Street.

Derided by a source as a "cheaper older" building above a Boots, the replacement location was described more positively by the firm as being "in the heart of the City".

There is one tiny issue. Businesses normally keep hold of their existing office until the new one is ready, so that staff have somewhere to work and meet. But not Ince. In an indication of the urgency of its situation, it has told staff they will probably be clearing out of Aldgate Tower before there is anywhere else to go. "Dates for the move are still to be confirmed", it said in its email, "and it is probable that there will be a period of working from home".

According to management, the heads of terms for the new letting "are agreed", but Ince is still "in the process of negotiating the precise terms of the lease". 

Even after an agreement is signed, fitting out the office could take up to six months. The alternative is to skip that step and take the new premises as they are - which Ince may have to, given its perilous finances - in which case staff could be sitting on upturned crates on an empty floor within a matter of weeks.

Or the lease may never materialise, and staff will work from home permanently. That appears to be the outcome for staff at Ince's head office in Cardiff and its branch in Wandsworth, both of which a source alleged were being closed.

One of the measures Ince said it was considering to enable it to continue was "property rationalisations", which ROF predicted would involve holding meetings in the corner of Pret. And lo, it has come to pass. The firm declined to confirm details, asking RollOnFriday for a few more days to revert as it was "a fast moving situation at the moment". Which is very true.

Tip Off ROF

Comments

Homeless Ince 30 September 22 09:21

Llanmaes is Adrian’s. We don’t want to be on his estate after sacking him 

Pissed off at ROF 30 September 22 09:25

Literally none of this story is true.  ROF and it’s “source” appear to have a vendetta at Ince.  It’s all assumption from a “source”.  Jamie Hamilton and his mate at Ince appears to take great delight at driving a firm that has had problems but is resolving them (see departure of the Biles announced this week) into the ground which will make life worse, not better, for the staff.

The facts, which this “source” neglected to mention -

1) Ince has been offered improved terms to stay at Aldgate Tower.  They are considering whether to accept.  If they don’t staff can come into the Arden offices (see below).

2) The “head office” in Cardiff was a converted stables at the bottom of John Biles’ garden. For obvious reasons (see above) the firm couldn’t stay there and wouldn’t want to.  The staff there have been moved to existing offices in Charles Street which are, in any event, better, more modern and more central.

3) Wandsworth is home to a small conveyancing outfit, Alen-Buckley, Gordon Dadds picked up in 2015.  Closure (or actually a part closure) of a small office in Wandsworth should not be news.

4) RoF’s “source” failed to mention that Ince’s sister company, Arden, has offered use of its offices as workspace and meeting rooms should Ince leave AT.  This “Pret” bollocks is just that, bollocks.

Yet ROF continues to publish this crap without checking it.  It wants the firm to fail and the redundancies that would follow.  For a publication that purports to be on the side of the ordinary lawyer it’s making a good stab at killing a firm with the consequences that would follow.  Hamilton would love that.

 

 

 

Sensible 30 September 22 09:27

How does this place have any staff left?

Unless they genuinely have zero other options, why would anyone continue to work there?

Anonymous 30 September 22 09:44

That's right, Pissed off at ROF, it's the press's fault your firm is a complete basket case.

Anonymous 30 September 22 09:46

I suppose Ince isn't dumping it's Singapore and Germany offices either, Pissed Off.

Oh...

https://ir.q4europe.com/Tools/newsArticleHTML.aspx?solutionID=3680&customerKey=gordondaddsgroupplc&storyID=15566768&language=en

Pissed of at ROF 30 September 22 09:49

@9.44 - the firm’s not a basket case.  That’s the point I’m making.  Someone wants to make it one though.

@9.46 - where were those offices mentioned in the piece or in my comment?  Address the points I’m making.  What was incorrect in my post?  How was any of my post wrong?  Pray tell.

Anonymous 30 September 22 09:51

None of it's true? Except, Ince IS leaving its office mid-lease, it HAS told staff they may have to WFH while it moves, and it IS closing the other 2 offices...if Ince wants to sell the upside, it can, but it chose not to for some reason. To be fair to you, Pissed Off, you do a fair job - ever considered moving into comms?

Pissed of at ROF 30 September 22 09:59

@9.52

As I said, it’s not decided whether to close AT, so that’s not true.

The Cardiff office has not closed, it’s had to move to Charles Street, so that’s not true

Staff may have the option of working at Arden, so the WFH and “Pret” bits are not true.

I’ll give you the Wandsworth bit but even there they are keeping some space.

Keep up.

 

 

 

 

Anonymous 30 September 22 10:00

oh dear pissed off - difficult to keep perspective when it’s personal. ROF is a humorous and gossipy website for ffs! the reference to meetings in pret wasn’t literal….

nonetheless there do seem to be a lot of people around who have somehow formed the impression that the gordon dadds rump - pathetically rebadged with the once venerable Ince name - was largely full of turds 

Chill out 30 September 22 10:03

Looks like ROF touched a nerve there, Pissed off.
 

I live in Kilburn and would like to offer my spare bedroom to Ince as their new London HQ. We have wifi and a shared kitchen with a kettle and air fryer we will share. There is a communal toilet one floor up. It is near to transport links - in fact you can see the train line from the back window and even feel the vibrations as the trains go by. I need rent one month in advance plus a guarantor. Plenty of dining options nearby - there is a Subway, fried chicken joint and kebab van, but the latter only at weekends. Bills included. 

Anon 30 September 22 10:05

@9.27 - the sane people in the firm are looking to resign. The partners are owed money which is why they’re not resigning. But they will. 

Anon 30 September 22 10:11

I don't know much about Ince beyond what I have read on RoF. It is clearly a firm with problems. What saddens me is that most commentators on this site seem to take great delight in the struggles of other firms rather than wishing them well and hoping that jobs are retained and created. With Dumb and Dumber now in charge in Downing Street plenty more firms are going to struggle to survive. I just wish there was more empathy and understanding amongst our profession. It's people's livelihoods we are talking about here. Not some d**k swinging game

Anonymous 30 September 22 10:19

Super unusual and unprofessional for a large listed company not to have certainty on where your new office is going to be on the very month you trigger your break clause. That assumes the usual notice period of 3-6 month applies. 

I say this as a real estate lawyer who frequently deals with a lot of corporate office relocation is, both on the tenant and landlord side. The smacks of not even having a six-month plan for the business.

(I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they triggered a break clause, as opposed to agree on a surrender by paying the landlord a sack of cash as a result of bad forward planning).

As Roll on Friday have suggested, the fit-out of any new office is crucial. Fitting out a new office alone will take 2-3 months usually, and agreeing the documentation and the specs for that, and actually instructing contractors, will take at least another 1-2 months. While someone in the comments has flagged the potential option for temporarily sharing offices with a sister company, there will be logistical ramifications - who will store the deeds and equipment, how will access to this be maintained etc? While many companies to make use of flexible working spaces at WeWork etc, they retain a base/head office for their core needs and storage.

You don’t see the CEO of a major law firm, accounting firm or bank working exclusively out of a WeWork.

Anonymous 30 September 22 10:45

Working out of the Arden offices isn't a runner either - there's two regulators who will have issues with that!

Ince 30 September 22 11:00

@9.52 pissed off - you need to realise facts. Aldgate Tower has to be returned to the landlord by 31 October. It is closing. Wake up and accept reality. 

Pissed at ROF 30 September 22 11:03

@ 11.00 Anonymous.  You. Are. Totally. Wrong. There was a break clause but the landlord has offered Ince incentives to withdraw it and stay. There is a Town Hall meeting at the firm on Monday.

Anonymous 30 September 22 11:37

Anon 10:11:

” more empathy and understanding amongst our profession”

everyone wishes the regular foot soldiers well but “empathy and understanding” are unknown concepts to most of the shysters at the stable of slime badged Ince - as is evidenced by the comments on this site, live by the sword etc. 

Ex Ince Mariner Man 30 September 22 11:53

Sad, just sad. There were partners there who remain my role models to this day.  Not all - that's true, even one or two that should have been struck off, but the majority I enjoyed working with. A shame.

Anonymous 30 September 22 11:58

withdraw a break notice you say? interesting- watch out for the sdlt! best have a word with someone in your re team or have they all bailed out already?

Anonymous 30 September 22 12:03

@ LOL Rumour has it their comms agency was in bed with the Biles Sr. and Jr. and involved in the restaurant sexual harassment domino. Not reactively, either. It was first on the chopping block, but won't be last!

Anonymous 30 September 22 12:18

@Pissed off at 11.03

It’s not uncommon for landlords to offer incentives to tenants to stay after service of a break notice.

Other comments now suggest a break notice was previously served which expires end of Oct 2022. Unbelievably, that actually puts Ince in a worse position than I previously thought! They now have less than a month to get out, as opposed to 3 or six months.

First, a break notice, once validly served, cannot be withdrawn. If landlord and tenant purport to acknowledge such a notice as invalidly served, or agree that the notice can be withdrawn, the legal effect of this is that a new lease is granted for the relevant term. This happens quite often, but many companies don’t realise that can have SDLT implications. Never fun to get HMRC involved in these things…

One way to ensure that the break does not take effect in law is to ensure that the preconditions are not complied with. However, if things get to the very last minute, there is a risk for the tenant that the landlord can simply send a letter saying that they waive the breaches and that the break can take effect - leaving Ince with no offices. Alternatively, and more likely, if Ince stays in occupation past the break date then they will be on the hook for rent and service charge and other payments for the duration of the rest of the lease. Any early termination would then need to be negotiated commercially with the landlord, and the landlord would be in a far stronger position.

Secondly, while the landlord may currently be asking Ince to stay by agreeing to lower the rent for instance, it will almost certainly be looking for new tenants at the same time. If I were a landlord, in this situation, I would be offering Ince a massive rent reduction, but in return seeking something like a rolling landlord only break option to be inserted into a new lease. This is technically an incentive to stay, but is obviously unattractive to the current tenant who could be booted out on 3 or 6 months’ notice.

Finally, the fact that things have been left until the very last minute is highly unprofessional. It suggests that this has been handled in house, and not by a specialist. There is a reason why office relocation is offered handled by specialist consultants, often with the assistance of lawyers.

If anyone from Ince is reading this, I suggest they raise one or more of these points at the Town Hall on Monday.

MrMan 30 September 22 12:34

@PissedatROF 11:03, once a break notice has been validly served it cannot be withdrawn

Wandsworth office to close! 30 September 22 14:19

What do you expect with with no management! 

Extremely high levels of staff turnover, I hear, ppl leaving within first few months of new job appointment. 
lack of direction 

I say shut the whole thing down. 

 

Knight’s anon 30 September 22 17:06

Wonder if Adrian has found a new residence hidden within the Knight’s Fallen Empire… looking at today’s share drop!! I’m sure a couple of partners who have recently received large pay rises could prop up the market for the time being though. 

Anon 01 October 22 09:27

Great opportunity for Clyde & Co here. 
Assuming they still want to pursue a merger strategy!

Anonymous 01 October 22 10:37

Knights fallen empire lol. Who caused that empire to fall?  It’s a classic pump and dump.

 

Roger Peters 01 October 22 10:51

You could see all of this coming a mile off when I worked at what was Gordon Dadds 5 or so years ago.

Anonymous 04 October 22 14:08

Are we sure that Ince Gordon Dadds can have their meetings in Pret? I thought they weren't welcome in 'restaurants' or is this one of the eateries they are still allowed in?

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