Behind the scenes at Metropolis Property Research

Part 1 – The Lighter Side

Amongst the hundreds of phone calls and meticulous research work tracking down around 120 UK firms with plans to move each week, there are some lighter sides to the job of putting together our brand of intelligence led property business leads every 7 days:

– During one call, the tenant asked who we are, so that he could make a note, when the researcher said ‘Metropolis’, the manager asked if we spelt that the same way as Superman does?

– Many clients will be familiar with the tussle to extract information on when office and facility managers will be arranging their furniture and fit-out tenders, with many guarding the information jealously. Until that is, one day in a standard call to a secretive London law firm planning to move in 5-6 months time, the facilities manager suddenly volunteered “and we are about to look for someone to supply our furniture”. Well, ‘surprised’ wasn’t the word..

– a common misunderstanding when opening the conversation with tenants is: Researcher: “we’re contacting companies that are looking for offices” Tenant answers “well we’ve we’ve got none to sell”. OK, lets start that again..

– In another call to a media firm in a building about to be demolished, we established that the company had to move, whereupon the MD started asking what he should do in order to find new office space. Half an hour later, we were still talking, as he went through the pros and cons of different locations, rent levels, service charges, transport links, fit-out costs..

– One of the bugbears of the 21st century is the blanket ‘no names’ policy, “if you don’t already know the name of our facility manager I won’t put you through,” yah, boo, sucks. It used to be just animal rights-protest-fearing pharmaceuticals that adopted this policy, but now about half the corporate world tries to use this blunt tool to stop business inquiries. Unfortunately 90% of these individuals then quite innocently put their name and job title on their Linkedin page and their company Facebook page..

– Finally, some years ago, in a scene mirroring a Dads Army sketch, when talking to a firm with a very hush hush requirement, we asked who was handling the search, as the FM hesitated, we heard a colleague whisper “don’t tell him that John Smith is in charge”, so the FM eventually says “I don’t know”. Thank you and goodbye.

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London Fit Out Rankings – 2009 to 2013

Boom to Bust (and Back Again)

London Fit Out 2009-2013

Metropolis Property Research’s latest report on the central London fit-out market is now available.

The report ‘Boom to Bust (and Back Again)’ provides an overview of past and future trends in London and an analysis – with Top 10 rankings – of those firms winning the most business in interior design, project management, fit out, and tenant agency.

In the five years covered by the research (2009-2013) a total of 49.6m sq ft of new office space has been fitted-out in central London.

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For details please contact Simon Sluszny – simon@metroinfo.co.uk

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About Metropolis Property Research Ltd

Metropolis Property Research is an independent research and information company established in 1998.   The company carries out research into the UK and international office markets and corporate moves.  www.metroinfo.co.uk

 

Central London April 2014 lettings

Central London office lettings in April 2014 reached just over 850,000 sq ft in 55 medium/large deals. This total was slightly behind the average for the first 3 months of the year and was mainly due to the lack of any large deals over 100,000 sq ft. The balance is likely to be restored in May after a number of pre-lets.

The City again led the way with over 440,000 sq ft of deals in more than half the transactions. Midtown, encompassing Kings Cross, is the second busiest area with nearly 180,000 sq ft of deals, while the West End remains subdued.

The largest office deals on the Metropolis datebase during the month included: the Office Group’s 69,000 sq ft letting of Henry Wood House, 3 Langham Street, London, W1 and law firm DWF taking 43,000 sq ft at 20 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3. However active requirements listed on Metropolis, in the West End, now total over 1.3m sq ft and there are three large properties under offer to occupiers.

M25 Market – Moving up a Gear

A report out this week, by property consultant Knight Frank on the M25 motorway office market, highlights take-up of over 750,000 sq ft during Q1 2014, which is the highest total of office deals in a quarter since 2008. The 57 transactions was the highest in a three month period since 2007 and some 2.7m sq ft of office take-up is forecast for the whole of 2014.

Notable deals included TK Maxx taking 47,000 sq ft in Watford; UKTV taking 34,000 sq ft in west London and Samsung taking 15,000 sq ft in Chertsey. Knight Frank calculate that there is 5.8m sq ft of unfulfilled office requirements around the M25 with finance, telecom, technology and retail sectors leading the way.

Metropolis Research bears these numbers out, with over 50 searches underway around the M25, listed on the database. These include ongoing office requirements from companies such as Thomas Cook, Travelport, Pourshins and Webfusion.

Looking ahead, there are over 100 mid-large sized companies with lease expiries coming up over 2014 and 2015. Metropolis is tracking decisions in Surrey, East Berkshire, South Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and West Kent over the next two years and these are likely to prompt more deals. In particular there is a spike of office lease expiries in 2015 around Heathrow and the Woking/Guildford area

The expansion of the technology sector has prompted overseas companies, particularly from the US to start searches around Heathrow and an improved economic confidence is likely to drive a further rise in deals over the next two years.

 

Birmingham – Pausing for Breath

A recent report on the Q1 2014 office market in Birmingham by Lambert Smith Hampton highlighted a drop in office lettings in the first three months of the year. The total of 102,000 sq ft, including mid-size deals to Healthtrust Europe and Perkins Slade, was down by 10% on a year ago and the average transaction size was only just over 3,500 sq ft. The total for the whole of 2013 total was 664,000 sq ft in nearly 130 deals, although 75% of the total was in deals below 5,000 sq ft.

Nonetheless, local agents feel that Birmingham occupier confidence is likely to grow as the year progresses and point to around 500,000 sq ft of requirements for office space in the city. Metropolis is currently tracking nearly 30 requirements for office space in Birmingham including PWC, Deloittes and Berrymans Lace Mawer, as well as some at the smaller end of the spectrum.

Local agents point to a large number of office leases expiring between 2014 and 2018 and Metropolis is currently tracking over 60 firms with lease expiries due in 2014, together with a further tranche due in 2015.

There is currently a slight shortage of new office space on the market, with only 400,000 sq ft being marketed in the city at present compared to double that level during the recession. However, the future development pipeline includes major planned office schemes at Paradise Circus, 55 Colmore Row, Lumina and 2 Cornwall Street.

Looking ahead, Birmingham is going through a slight lull in market activity at present, however there are signs that is likely to pick up in the second half of 2014.