IT BEGAN on a bing in Lanarkshire and has led to the creation of the biggest office development in Glasgow, hailed for its green innovation that envelopes workers’ wellbeing.

Three decades on and HFD is this year celebrating developing £1 billion of property, while its portfolio includes 330 companies which employ 15,000 workers.

HFD itself has 130 staff. It has a raft of firsts and top marks for connectivity racked up.

But it is not just all about numbers, says Stephen Lewis, managing director of Bellshill-based HFD Property.

He said one of the firm’s key values is wellness at work, and that it has put its money where its mouth is by building the only rooftop running track of its kind in Scotland, in the centre of Glasgow.

READ MORE: Prime office space at all-time low in Glasgow after big deals

It has smart lighting designed to lift workers in the morning and help them wind down towards the end of the day, and a gold-standard atmosphere.

The groundbreaking 177 Bothwell Street - Bothwell Exchange - is to be the largest multi-occupancy office building in Glasgow with Clydesdale Bank owner CYBG moving in.

Mr Lewis said: “It all started way back in 1989 at Strathclyde Business Park.

“Our group CEO [William Hill] stood on what was a coal bing in Bellshill and said ‘I’ll make this Scotland’s premier business park’, at which point most people laughed.

“Lo and behold that’s what he did, and then SBP is now home to 240 companies, with 6,500 staff, ranging from one person new-starts all the way up to corporate headquarters and everything in between. It continues to be the benchmark for out of town business parks.”

The group also includes HFD Construction, which builds the projects, HFD Property Management Services, which is a serviced office business, an investment business, and two IT firms.

He continued: “One of the differentiators of HFD Group is we are what’s called a full service property company, which is pretty unusual,and we do everything through the full property life cycle.

“It starts with the developments. We have HFD Construction, which builds and constructs our projects. They’re then managed by HFD Property Management Services who also has our large serviced office business, and if we retain them, which is what we do with probably the majority of our assets, it sits in our investment business, so, take it through that full kind of cradle to grave process where we are involved in every aspect.

“We have two integrated IT businesses, one as part of our property management group for 25 years, and more recently we have a dedicated data centre business because we built a data centre in sunny Lanarkshire five or six years ago, and provide those services to not just our own business park and occupier clients but also a wider array.”

READ MORE: New York bank closes in on new Glasgow site

Mr Lewis, who is also a committee member on the British Council for Offices, also hails its other developments which include the Wood building in Aberdeen, their first in the city, but Bothwell Street is clearly a beloved jewel in the crown.

“Bringing it back to 177, it’s the first building in Scotland we believe to have a running track on the roof which is not gimmicky it’s there for a reason, not just to stop people seeing me running around Glasgow in Lycra which is a sight that nobody should ever see, but it’s a little oasis in the city centre, it is their ability to get up whether they want to walk, jog, or run round it, it’s within an 8,000 thousand sq ft terrace on the roof, so it is the ability to get away from it all whilst still being in the city centre and fresh air, on maybe the two days a year we get some sunshine.”

Its firsts are around sustainability, IT - with a WiredScore Platinum 100% score - and wellness, also with certification, and he says “177 again is pushing the envelope in terms of sustainability, so we’ve put our money where our mouth is in these things”.

“It’s a big focus. Again, the good thing is there is an independent certification for that, so buildings can be compared if they all apply for the same certification. So it started in America, it’s called the WELL Certification funnily enough.

"Whilst there’s an obvious focus on physical health, so things like at 177 the running track on the roof, but also encouraging people to take stairs as opposed to using the lifts, positioning things in as occupiers and they’re fitted to get people to get off their seat and out their desk just for glass of water or whatever.

“WELL is much more than just the physical attributes. It’s as much interested in the quality of the water, air quality, light quality, and one of the things we’re blessed with in Scotland is a very good water quality, but the WELL standards stills requires the elements of filtration on that water to ensure there’s no nasties coming through that into the drinking water.

“Likewise, for air quality in city centres, Glasgow’s adopted now its low emission zone plan and there’s a desire to reduce the amount of cars and car emissions in city centre which is absolutely laudable, so again you need to ensure that the air quality in your building is sufficient that you’re not impacting your occupiers’ health.

“Lighting’s an interesting one.” He cites circadian lighting it is claimed can give workers a boost early in the day and then towards the end of the shift bring you down slightly, which is also employed also used in Bothwell Street.

READ MORE: 'Dark cloud above our heads in form of Brexit'

He says there was half the staff at HFD when he started 11 years ago. “Now our developments are 200,000 sq ft or above which for a local developer, he says in inverted commas, are sizeable developments. It’s scalable. We will continue to develop, but certainly in a sustainable way, not to overextend ourselves.

“For us our barometer is occupier demand. We develop our buildings, our end users are our occupier; they are our clients.

"As long as our clients still require more space, whether that’s to grow or for relocation or what the driver may be, if the economy’s sufficiently strong and there’s sufficient confidence to allow companies to grow and develop, including our investors to Scotland, then we will continue to develop, to meet those needs.

“There clearly was a dip, certainly on the investment side, post the independence referendum and as we approach Brexit, but given the prolonged nature of both, then businesses thankfully have said we just need to get on with it, and business doesn’t stop whilst we live through these annoyingly uncertain times.

“But uncertainty is the biggest single factor which impacts on our view of businesses, whether it’s our own business or our occupier clients who that uncertainty makes it difficult for them to plan and they either to put projects on hold or they may scale them down."

He also said: “But thankfully occupiers have continued to take space, well that’s the 40% that we’ve pre-let to our friends at Clydesdale Bank, and the general occupier demand is still strong.

“Whilst it remains that way we will continue to develop.

“I think, come October, if there is a hard Brexit I think that will affect us, or affect the Scottish economy quite hard.”

He remains optimistic against a changing backdrop, however.

Mr Lewis says: “With the spectre of a hard Brexit there and it still being on the table, hopefully it will encourage our European friends to look at either a slight amendment or repackaging of the deal that was there to get it through.”


Barbados: I took my other half Terri five years ago, flew out on the Thursday, got engaged on the Saturday and then married on the beach on the Tuesday - all to her surprise. Nine months later our daughter arrived.

Copenhagen is also a favourite; I am just back from the BCO (British Council for Offices) Annual Conference which was hosted there. It’s a beautiful city with fantastic culture and architecture.


As a child I wanted to be a firefighter, just like my Dad. As a teenager this very quickly changed to a Property Surveyor - sad but true.


Not perhaps traditional, but my biggest break was my first real property job at Scottish Enterprise in 1995, initially working for a one-year placement in Aberdeen. I learned so much and it shaped who I am, professionally, today. I’ve never had an interview since.


The worst moments have been when I’ve left a great job, with great people. I believe you should never stay in a job to the point you don’t like it - that’s a day too long.


Professionally, it would be Richard Branson of Virgin. He has and continues to be hugely successful across such a wide range of businesses, yet his staff appear to adore him and he seems to have a lot of fun along the way.


The last book I read was The Snowball – a biography of Warren Buffett.

The last film was Pokémon Detective - with my four-year-old daughter - and the album I’ve been listening to is Love is Dead by Chvrches.