Business members’ club at 70 per cent capacity one year on from launch

Amy Byram

Just one year on from its launch, a Huddersfield-based business members club has hit 70 per cent capacity and grown its base turnover to £157,000, with its eyes on expansion in 2023.

Empire House was founded by Amy Byram to provide a platform for the hybrid working model that many businesses and entrepreneurs have adopted post-pandemic.

Members now range from one-person £30,000 turnover businesses to 150-employee £20m+ revenue organisations, from fashion and retail to property and manufacturing, including Venari Group, Dotty Bridal, Bert Agency, Chadwick Lawrence, Cloud Gateway, and Smith.

Speaking about the business’ progress in 12 months, Amy said: “Empire House has developed into something that is bigger than myself or even our team. I couldn’t be prouder of the community that has been co-created by every single person who has stepped through our doors.

“Our memberships work for a diverse set of businesses and people. For example, remote companies have bought memberships for their staff who would otherwise struggle to WFH 9-5, five days a week – it helps them to create a good culture and is offered as an incentive scheme. For SME business owners, they now have somewhere to go to work/meet their team without the overhead of an office, whilst for CEOs, it offers a space to escape the demands of their office, so they can get their head down and concentrate.

“Working from home every day can be isolating, and on the other hand, commuting every day can become miserable. We offer something that sits between the two – somewhere to focus, surrounded by the company of people who lift you up and lend you an ear when you need advice.”

In a survey to members, it was found that over 80% of Empire House’s members have gained new business since joining. One lead alone led to a £58,000 contract. Empire House’s boardroom has also been used to host meetings in which multimillion pound deals, mergers and acquisitions have been brokered.

Amy added: “The last 12 months have been focused on creating a dynamic space where people want to work from and socialise, with events that people can learn from, be inspired and entertained, from monthly member meet ups, to director dinners and informative workshops.

We are focussed on adding value to our clients’ businesses, beyond the remit of a typical co-working space. We elevate them and try to make their lives easier. We do everything from introducing them to new contacts, to nipping to the post office on their behalf.”

This strategy has paid off, helping memberships to fill organically. Empire House now has 80 members, meaning its memberships are 70 per cent full.

Amy added: “We’ve built the foundations for a strong future. There are so many other opportunities for us to pursue beyond memberships, from sector-specific, virtual networks, through to CEO support groups. Next year, we plan to grow revenue by another 50%, and we’re on the lookout for a second location.

“Our members range greatly across backgrounds and interests, meaning that there is never a dull conversation. Every day, I feel inspired and motivated by our incredible members, but perhaps what I feel most proud of is when someone tells me that Empire House has changed their life.”

Empire House was originally a town hall, dating back to 1892, and comes complete with an underground air-raid shelter. During its 128-year history, it has had various uses and was most recently an office base for a fashion exhibition organiser. The building was renovated over 18 months during the pandemic, and now hosts meeting rooms, a bar and office space.

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