Central London Office Lettings in September 2018

Central London office lettings in September 2018 reached just over 1m sq ft from 50 mid-large size office transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the month. The September 2018 figure is at the current monthly London average of 1m sq ft.

September was characterised by 15 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which were led by the Linkedin’s 83,000 sq ft deal to pre-let ‘The Ray’ office scheme on Farringdon Road, EC1; Beazley Insurance took 75,000 sq ft pre-let at 22 Bishopsgate, EC3 and Live Nation took a 66,000 sq ft pre-let at 34-36 St John Street, EC1.

IT related services topped the table of lettings by sector, compiled by Metropolis, underpinned by the Linkedin deal. This was followed by business services led by a number of lettings to WeWork and Orega. Insurance, professional and media were also well represented. Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London remained at 3.9m sq ft, and pending deal volumes are healthy in nearly all sub-markets, with a number of deals pending.

By area, the City accounted for 31pc of the office floorspace let in September 2018 at 310,000 sq ft. The West End saw 150,000 sq ft of take-up. Midtown contributed 450,000 sq ft of lettings. Current London office demand is calculated to be around 3.8m 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 530,000 sq ft sq ft (53% of the monthly total), as transactions for new space resumed their recent strong showing. Availability is dominated by secondhand space in all London markets.

Metropolis research is currently monitoring 640 ‘live’ London requirements, with deals for space of up to 1.7m sq ft due to sign in the next few months.

Cityoffices is close to completing on its autumn ‘Skyline Survey’ in London. Further details of office scheme planning applications and consents, with scheme by scheme detail are listed on the Cityoffices.net website. Details on Metropolis and the Cityoffices database from Andy King at andy@metroinfo.co.uk

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Law Sector and the Office Market Update

Knight Frank, the property consultant, has just published an update on trends in the law sector over 2017-18 which impact on the UK office market. Some of the main points include:

Consolidator firms such as Gordon Dadds, Redkite Solicitors, Knights and Metamorph Law are acquiring smaller rivals to gain market share. Consolidation activity is driving occupier demand in certain markets as merged firms looked to consolidate into single offices;

Some mid-tier law firms are aggressively expanding, in particular those that have focussed on niche services. One such firm that is forging ahead is Weightmans which has invested £1.3million on new technology over the last year. Another leading mid-tier firm is Fieldfisher who recorded a second consecutive year of double-digit growth that included moving into a single site in London;

New market players are expanding in regional markets. These included Leeds-based Alpaca, who launched in 2017, and Rradar, who relocated to larger office space at the Bruntwood Platform building in Leeds having undergone rapid growth;

Meanwhile, Norton Rose Fulbright revealed plans to create 100 new jobs in its legal process hub in Newcastle, Simmons & Simmons taking larger offices in Bristol, Walker Morris will relocate to 33 Wellington Street, Leeds, Reed Smith opening in Leeds, Graysons moved into larger, more modern premises in Sheffield, Pinsent Masons consolidated their two offices into 141 Bothwell Street in Glasgow, while Hogan Lovells tripled its space in Birmingham;

Manchester recorded the highest legal services sector takeup by square footage across all the UK regional cities at 155,328 sq ft or 13% of total take-up last year. This was followed by Bristol where legal services accounted for 9.4% of total take-up

Knight Frank conclude that changing business structures will demand a resetting of the corporate footprint with most relocating to higher quality office space in core CBD locations.

Metropolis is tracking over 100 law firms with either identified requirements or potential requirements for relocation from October 2018 onwards.