Central London Office Market in April 2019

Central London office lettings in April 2019 reached just over 1 million sq ft, from 35 mid-large size office transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the month. The April 2019 figure is in line with the current monthly London average of 1m sq ft.

April was characterised by 16 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which were led by Facebook’s 175,000 deal at expansion at Regents Place, NW1 along with a large pre-let to G-Research at the under construction Soho Place in London, W1; Spaces at Cabot Square, E14; Trade Desk expanding at One Bartholomew Square, EC1; plus Mastercard at 1 Angel Lane, EC1 and Splunk in Paddington, W2.

IT Services topped the table of lettings by sector, compiled by Metropolis, underpinned by the Facebook deal and G-research’s expansion pre-let. This was followed by business services led by a number of serviced office sector deals. Financial services, led by Mastercard, plus media led by Trade Desk were also well represented.

Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London rose to 3.6m sq ft, and pending deal volumes are healthy in nearly all sub-markets, with a number of deals in solicitor’s hands.

By area, the City accounted for 28% of the office floorspace let in April 2019 at 280,000 sq ft. The West End saw 500,000 sq ft of take-up. Midtown contributed 139,000 sq ft of lettings and Southbank 25,000 sq ft. Current London office demand is calculated to be around 3.8m sq ft in the City and 3.1m sq ft in the West End.

The volume of grade A (newly built or refurbished office space) let during the month, reached a healthy 417,000 sq ft sq ft (42% of the monthly total), as transactions for new space maintained the recent strong showing. Availability is dominated by secondhand space in all London markets.

Metropolis research is currently monitoring 630 ‘live’ London office requirements, including a large volume of requirements from the banking and finance sectors, with pending deals for space of up to 1.5m sq ft due to sign in the next few months.

Paul Ives Metropolis

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Manchester Office Market Update

Recent research by Metropolis saw nearly 40 office Manchester moves confirmed in the first quarter of 2019, which is 10% above the same period last year. Furthermore, there are over 100 companies either searching or due to make decisions on future office space searches in 2019.

Local office agents expect take-up in the city centre market to top 1m sq ft for the sixth year running following a steady start to 2019. The first quarter of the year saw 314,733 sq ft of lettings according to the figures from the Manchester Office Agents Forum. The largest transaction so far this year is the long-awaited 47,465 sq ft pre-let at Two New Bailey to law firm Eversheds Sutherland.

Other large deals included co-working operator Huckletree taking 25,800 sq ft at the Express Building, the General Medical Council taking 22,000 sq ft at 3 Hardman Square and Knights Professional Services taking 16,272 sq ft at Two St Peter’s Square. Moneysupermarket.com took space at No. 1 Spinningfields at £35 per sq ft, a new record rent for the city.

The headline requirement is to BT, which it has recently increased its search to 150,000 sq ft. The out-of-town market saw lettings to two utilities companies Smart DCC and Landis & Gyr. There were also a number of deals to tech companies such as Capgemini, Playdemic and Cetus Solutions.

Analysis by Savills points to a diverse base of office occupiers, who are attracted to the city as a result of its strong talent pool, establishing it further as a key location outside of London.

Savills research points to a Manchester’s office market with record 2018 take-up levels of 1,750,276 sq ft, representing a 44 per cent year-on-year increase. It was also the fifth consecutive year that Manchester saw city centre take-up in excess of 1.2 million sq ft.

Recent office mover activity has been dominated by TMT, professional, financial services and public sector markets as well as co-working providers.

Manchester has seen an influx of flexible and serviced office providers looking to establish a presence outside of London including WeWork, Work Life and Central Working taking space as well as smaller independent providers.

Looking ahead, Metropolis has plans to speak to a further Manchester office occupiers that are approaching lease expiries on their office space over the next two years.

Paul Ives, Metropolis

Financial Sector and the London Office Market

The recent signing of a large pre-let of 123,000 sq ft of new London HQ offices by ICAP at 135 Bishopsgate, London, EC2 and large mid-size lettings to nearby to FIS Global and Peel Hunt, has underlined the contribution of the financial sector to London’s office market. Metropolis looks at the importance of the financial sector to office transactions and relocation moves in London.

In 2018, the financial sector made a huge 1.8m sq ft contribution to the 12m sq ft of office space let in central core area of London. Metropolis ran near 120 leads on financial sector firms finding medium or large premises during the year. There are thought to be over 3m sq ft of requirements in the London market, with Metropolis tracking 150 live requirements in London for 2019 and beyond, mainly driven by lease events, mergers and consolidation. Analysis of recent data suggests that financial sector office tenants are responsible for a quarter of London office deals so far in 2019.

JLL point to recent deals including 120,000 sq ft Grade A at 55 Gresham Street, EC2 let to Investec Asset Management. ICAP also taking acquiring 34,000 sq ft in Verde, SW1, consolidating from three West End offices, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation taking 161,000 sq ft pre-let at 100 Liverpool Street, EC2.

In the West End large recent Mayfair transactions include KKR pre-letting 57,000 sq ft at 18-19 Hanover Square, W1 and 21,000 sq ft over four floors to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management at 5 Savile Row, W1. The King’s Cross Central development has attracted XTX Markets. There are up to 100 asset managers, private equity specialists and hedge fund managers in various stages of searches and potential requirements in the west end. Recent research suggests that London requirements will increase over the second quarter of 2019, with a number of prominent financial occupiers launching searches in advance of upcoming lease expiries.

Looking ahead, there are 300 London based media companies approaching lease expiries in the next two years. Future large identified requirements include: EBRD (Just signed in Canary Wharf), Bank of New York Mellon and The Northern Trust, together with expansion driven requirements from Brewin Dolphin and Smith & Williamson.

For further analysis and details contact Paul Ives at Metropolis

Media Sector and the London Office Market

The recent signing of a large pre-let of 124,000 sq ft of new London HQ offices by Sony at 4 Handyside Street, Kings Cross has brought renewed focus onto the contribution of the media sector to London’s office market. Metropolis looks at the importance of the media sector to office transactions and relocation moves in London.

In 2018, the technology and media sector once again dominated the London’s leasing profile, accounting for 27% of take-up across central London at around 3m sq ft and signing two of the year’s three largest deals. This is the third consecutive year that the sector has finished the year in the top spot. In many respects, the media and tech sector has been the standard bearer for London’s continued global magnetism

Kings Cross has become a popular destination for the creative and media sector with recent moves agreed with Universal and PRS for Music. In addition, Google and Facebook, which straddle the line between media and technology companies, also chose Kings Cross as their London HQ destinations.

Other large media sector moves announced recently, have included WPP agreeing to centralise HQ functions at 1 Southwark Bridge Road, SE1 and McCann Worldgroup pre-letting nearly 150,000 sq ft at the under construction 135 Bishopsgate, EC2.

Metropolis has also recently run large London moves planned by Publicis, Datamonitor, Ree, Macmillan Publishers and Trade Desk.

Media occupiers have been active across all sub-markets, but they have been particularly dominant in the West End, accounting for over 30% of all activity in 2018. In Midtown, Herbal House, EC1 and The Farmiloe, EC1 attracted a variety of media and creative tenants. Research by Colliers shows that media sector tenants negotiate the shortest lease lengths and therefore the sector is the most likely to be looking for its next move.

Looking ahead, there are 220 London based media companies approaching lease expiries in the next two years. Metropolis is tracking over 130 which have expressed an interest in a move. Future large identified requirements include: 20th Century Fox (80,000 – 100,000 sq ft) and The Telegraph Media Group (70,000 – 80,000 sq ft).

For further analysis and details contact Paul Ives at Metropolis

South East Office Market Rising

Recent Metropolis research into occupier moves in the South East, has revealed 250 relocations over the last 6 months and forms part of a pattern of rising level of market activity, that saw nearly 3.5m sq ft of office space let in the region in 2018.

Occupier confidence returned to the market with a number of high profile lettings being agreed including Sanofi’s 71,000 sq ft letting at Thames Valley Park in Reading, Starbucks acquired 54,000 sq ft at Building 7
Chiswick Park, and healthcare analytics company IQVIA leased 56,000 sq ft at No. 3 Forbury Place, Reading. However, the main volume of mover activity took place in the 5,000-20,000 sq ft bracket, accounting for 70% of transactions in 2018.

Take-up in the South-East office market of 3.5 million sq ft was the highest since 2007. Whilst deal numbers increased by 44% in the second half of 2018. CBRE say that over two thirds (69%) of office take-up occurred in H2. Whilst the overall number of deals increased, there was a surge in larger sized deals. There were 10 deals over 50,000 sq ft, accounting for 873,120 sq ft in 2018, all of which took place
in the second half.  Publicis took 211,000 sq ft at White City in west London and Virgin Media who took 121,000 sq ft at Green Park in Reading. The serviced office sector, which accounted for 10% of take-up in 2017, was increasingly active during 2018 with 19 new centres acquired. These sites totalled 512,000 sq ft and represented 15% of all take-up, with Spaces/Regus the most active operator.

Other large moves included KPMG, Chivas Brothers and McLaren Technology Group finding space.

Looking ahead, CBRE say that lease expiries in excess of 6 million sq ft in the next two years will be a key driver of take-up in 2019. As will a continuation of the recent merger activity. Future requirements could include Starling Bank, Allergan and telecom giant Three. Continued demand for new, high quality office space combined with a finite supply of available Grade A space and only a moderate pipeline of new stock coming through will result in competition for the best office stock, and a potential increase in pre-let activity.

Central London Office Market in March 2019

Central London office lettings in March 2019 reached nearly 850,000 sq ft from 48 mid-large size office transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the month. The March 2019 figure is just below the current monthly London average of 1m sq ft.

March was characterised by 14 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which were led by Sony Music’s 120,000 deal at Kings Cross Central, N1 along with large deals to Milbank Tweed at 100 Liverpool Street, EC2; Glencore at Hanover Square, W1; WeWork at Dixon House in EC3; plus Peel Hunt at 100 Liverpool Street, EC2 and Merian Global also in EC2.

Media topped the table of lettings by sector, compiled by Metropolis, underpinned by the Sony Music. This was followed by professional services led by law firm Milbank Tweedy. Business services, especially Spaces and WeWork, finance and mining sectors were also well represented.

Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London rose to 3.5m sq ft, and pending deal volumes are healthy in nearly all sub-markets, with a number of deals in solicitor’s hands.

By area, the City accounted for 46% of the office floorspace let in March 2019 at 390,000 sq ft. The West End saw 218,000 sq ft of take-up. Midtown contributed 160,000 sq ft of lettings and Southbank 72,000 sq ft. Current London office demand is calculated to be around 3.9m sq ft in the City and 3.2m sq ft in the West End.

The volume of grade A (newly built or refurbished office space) let during the month, reached a healthy 400,000 sq ft sq ft (47% of the monthly total), as transactions for new space maintained the recent strong showing. Availability is dominated by secondhand space in all London markets.

Metropolis research is currently monitoring 620 ‘live’ London office requirements, including a large volume of requirements from the banking and finance sectors, with pending deals for space of up to 1.5m sq ft due to sign in the next few months.

Paul Ives Metropolis, paul@metroinfo.co.uk

London Office Letting Forecast for 2019

Metropolis research suggests that despite the political uncertainty, the number of London office occupiers intending to move in 2019 remains in line with previous years. Confirmed office lettings in Q1 2019 are approaching around 2.5m sq ft, which is just below previous years. There are also a large number of companies awaiting a Brexit outcome before confirming move plans in the rest of the year.

Office market analysts report that Central London leasing activity continued to perform positively in 2018, however there remains fear of occupier inertia as a threat to leasing activity in early 2019 with leasing demand slowing in the early part of the year. JLL anticipate this is likely to be short lived as so much of today’s demand is structural – lease breaks and expiries – and a bounce back is expected in the latter part of the year. Tech employment is forecast to overtake banking and financial services in terms of total numbers employed. The tech sector is expected to take a larger part of London lettings during the next 12 months.

West End take-up is outperforming the 10-year average with the services sector was the most active. Some of the momentum was provided by Facebook’s acquisition of circa 600,000 sq ft in King’s Cross, followed by the business services sector with a share of 30% driven by flexible workspace providers. Flexible space is accounting for 22% of take-up volumes with several new entrants taking space including independent operators as well as British Land’s Storey and Brockton’s FORA.

Pre-letting remains a key driver of the leasing market and on an annual basis, pre-leasing accounted for 36% of take-up. Under offers in the West End are down slightly on the back of strong leasing volumes, but they remain well above the 10-year average, Active demand totalled 4.0 million sq ft and remains above the 10-year average Demand is being driven by business services followed by finance and media.

In the City, office take-up is surpassing the 10-year average with business service the most active, driven by the flexible workspace and insurance sectors. Flexible workspace providers continued
to expand rapidly, however the largest recent transaction to an insurance company was at Twentytwo Bishopsgate, EC2 where Beazley Group have pre-let 50,000 sq ft. WPP plc have pre-let 210,000 sq ft at 1 Southwark Bridge Road, SE1 and McCann have pre-leased 127,000 sq ft at 135 Bishopsgate, EC2.

In the City during 2018, pre-letting was at its highest level since 2000 in terms of volume and at peak levels in terms of proportion of activity (39%). Both space under offer and demand remain ahead of 10-year average levels. Space under offer is 1.4 million sq ft and active demand is 6.3 million sq ft.

In conclusion, trends in 2019 are likely to continue the patterns of 2018, albeit after a slow start in the first half of the year. However, the accumulated weight of demand and the impending pressure of upto a thousand lease expiries due over the next 12 months is likely to keep London lettings healthy.