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

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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.

Rise of the Serviced Office Sector

As part of Metropolis’ detailed monitoring of the London office market, it has emerged that the serviced or ‘co-working’ office sector is now the third largest business type taking office space in the capital. Some 2m sq ft was let to serviced office operators in 2017 and over 2.4m sq ft was let to the sector in 2018. There are now over a dozen serviced operators looking for additional sites in London, with more requirements being launched each month. The sector has expanded across Central London and the UK regions with business models from both operators and landlords adapting to changing customer demands.

Over recent years, we there has been a substantial growth in the flexible office market. Providers such as IWG (whose brands include Regus and Spaces) and new entrants from the US including WeWork, now dominate the market. Reports by analysts such as Cushman & Wakefield point to a greater willingness amongst major corporate occupiers to source quite significant amounts of office accommodation from the serviced sector and take advantage of their flexible terms.

Central London has one of the largest and most mature flexible workplace markets and over the last five years has cemented its global reputation for new office occupancy models . Cushman & Wakefield estimates that flexible workplace operators currently occupy around 10.7 million sq ft of space across Central London. This equates to around 4% of the Central London office stock.

In 2012, Clerkenwell, Southbank and Covent Garden were the areas that had the highest proportion of flexible workplace sector but Metropolis lettings data indicates that now Aldgate, City fringe, Shoreditch and Paddington have the highest concentration. The average serviced office centre is estimated at 22,300 sq ft up from 15,000 sq ft in 2016., with 30 centres in excess of 50,000 sq ft in Central London, many operated by WeWork.

Agents report that many larger companies are examining their business models in a bid to encourage creativity by providing a more unstructured and less centrally controlled environment than their traditional business. Recent market activity has included IWG focusing on expanding its Spaces brand while BE group has purchased Headspace to enable dramatic future growth. WeWork have said that it could offer an entire building to a single tenant and manage the custom build-out of the space.  BE Offices provide bespoke space via their BeSpoke division, which is aimed at corporate occupiers.

A BCA report revealed that increasing numbers of operators are seeking densities of 50 sq ft per desk across the UK. WeWork’s new centres are now being planned at 35-45 sq ft per desk Knotel, the newest entrant from the US is planning a similar density.

However some operators are finding difficulty in securing space, with some operators searching in the West End frustrated by a lack of stock. The larger operators will need to seek prelets or purchase buildings, but these are not options for smaller players. Most operators aim to achieve 85% occupancy within 12 months after fit out, which will generate a high level of sales activity, not least for removal companies.

To sum up, the new breed of flexible operator is challenging the traditional business model and the sector is going to remain an important segment of the real estate industry in the future. Take-up by the sector has increased year on year, with 2018 the most active year for the sector, with WeWork responsible for more than half of take up in 2017-18. WeWork and Spaces are also expanding into Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and Edinburgh and plenty of evidence that other operators are following.

What Office Occupiers Want

Metropolis researchers often hear of some unusual requests from office occupiers looking for the next base, which can trigger some sales opportunities for suppliers, so this week’s blog looks at some of the latest trends in office design.

A recent report by Lambert Smith Hampton examined some of the features of occupier demand. Slides, swings, ball ponds or a spot of mini golf were once the height of coolness. Revered and ridiculed in equal measure, the trend towards putting the fun factor into the office on the wish-list of technology and media start-ups. As with all fads, attitudes change and many have realised that the workforce and management need something different. That difference is functionality. The expectations that the workforce has on the workplace have largely been a result of technology, demographic and employment changes. It is these factors that have and will continue to evolve the thinking and implementation of design. The emphasis is now more on productivity and sustainability, increasingly being cost effective.

Technology has increasingly dictated change over the past decade. New technologies have tended to dispense with data rooms, to fixed desk PCs, to landline phones. The fast pace of technological change has
made it difficult to future proof office design. Technology is making the tools we use more portable, more personal and increasingly smaller, space can be therefore be devoted to more productive, collaborative and engaging activities rather than static desk spaces.

Designing a space that is functional and productive for the entire workforce is a difficult task, when it is required to retain the company culture and enhance the future one. Functional and productive design includes areas for team-work, quiet spaces, meeting rooms and private offices are all elements that need to be given some thought. If specific features are wanted, they must hold meaning and have purpose.. A
games room or even a fully functioning kitchen can help to create a shared space for everyone to come together.

The recent locational flexibility of occupiers has been underlined by recent occupier decisions. Media groups such as McCann relocating to the City of London, WPP to the Southbank or pharmaceutical Novartis’ move to White City, illustrate that old certainties about search areas are breaking down. Traditional certainties of lawyers in Midtown, hedge funds in Mayfair and government departments in Victoria are breaking down. For decades business sectors have been wedded to certain postcodes, submarkets and even streets. Whilst this has been slowly changing over recent years, the current pace is expected to step up a notch, as tenants are now more open-minded about their next workplace than ever before.

The main driver of change is the growth of technology that creates a truly connected workforce. The ability for people to work anywhere, at any time, has caused a re-imagination of the office and the role it plays. This technology revolution has changed people’s expectations of working practices, meaning the workplace is having to adapt. As a result, tenants are becoming ever more open to the type of space that they will operate from. Secondly, the workforce itself has changed. A wide range of ages in the office means a more complex and thoughtful approach to providing the right kind
of working environment.

In addition, the boundaries of London’s office market have grown over the past 25 years as new development has rippled westwards to Paddington, eastwards to Canary Wharf, north and south with King’s Cross and Southbank respectively. 2019 will see those boundaries push further out as regeneration, and improving transport links crystallise. Stratford and the Olympic Park is gaining leasing momentum. So too is White City to the west.

Some analysts think that offices will evolve to become more like coworking, with occupier space becomes about much more than just a building or a physical space to go and work in, it’s also an international supportive community.

The Evolution of Office Space

A recent blog from property consultant Savills, looked at the trends for the future of office space and some of the implications for market players. Savills say that the sector has progressed beyond putting a roof over workers’ heads, instead landlords and service providers need to be tuned to meet the needs of modern occupiers in order to attract businesses in an increasingly competitive landscape.

The relationships between landlords, tenants and staff has shifted. Building owners can no longer rely on the fact that they have four walls and a plug socket; but instead have to offer a best-in-class service if they want to entice occupiers to let their space. In turn businesses must provide their employees with a stand-out working environment if they want to both attract and retain the best staff.

So what are the emerging trends

Savills’ last What Workers Want survey showed that the workplace can have a significant impact on employees’ physical and mental health. Some of the measures that have caught the headlines have included running tracks on roofs, yoga studios and health-conscious canteens, but this is just the start. Savills predict more on-site GPs, crèche facilities and lockers for online retail deliveries to maximise employees time and productivity.

As well as the emphasis on wellness, there is also a need for greater sustainability and the impact that space might have on the wider environment. For this reason recycling, waste and energy consumption has never been so important. Metropolis finds increasing numbers of occupiers require office space with high levels of BREEAM standards as well as flexibility.

Metropolis has seen a high level of short leases negotiated in recent years alongside a trend for a floor by floor expansion by occupiers within an existing part-occupied building. In addition, refurbishment tenders incorperate a high level of IT utilisation and are now increasingly including flexibility to provide step free access.

Savills say that ultimately, landlords need to take the lead from the serviced office sector which is constantly adapting to create fresh ways of working to meet occupiers’ changing needs.

 

Leading the Market – Metropolis Movers

In a short departure from our normal focus on the UK office market, this week Metropolis Blog looks at the Metropolis Movers Leads Service.

Metropolis has become the biggest and best office relocation leads service through its focus on market intelligence lead research.

Unlike other lead providers Metropolis concentrates on non-published, tenant activity led research.

This means utilising hundreds of business sector reports, tapping into industry contacts, drilling deep into property sources and making full use of social media.

The experienced Metropolis team has years of experience of talking to office occupiers and is skilled at uncovering advance information of agency instructions, fit-out tendering, removal, furniture and IT contract opportunities.

Leads are written with an understanding of client needs with clear indications of size, timescale and triggers. In addition, all leads give clients multiple channels to contact the occupier, such as phone, email or Linkedin.

The weekly output of over 130 carefully researched leads is backed by a steady stream of blogs, statistics and reports on trends in the market.

Central London office lettings in July 2018

Central London office lettings in July 2018 reached just over 1.4m sq ft from 41 mid-large size office transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the month. The July 2018 figure is comfortably above the current monthly London average of 1m sq ft.

July was characterised by 15 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which were led by the Facebooks’s 600,000 sq ft deal to pre-let 11/21 Canal Reach and Building P2 Handyside Street, N1; WeWork’s 131,000 sq ft deal at Aviation House, WC2 and Houlihan Lokey’s 41,000 sq ft move to 1 Curzon Street, W1.

IT and technology services topped the table of lettings by sector, compiled by Metropolis, underpinned by the huge Facebook deal, plus a deal to Benevolent AI. This was followed by business services led by a number of lettings to WeWork and The Office Group. Financial services, professional and media were also well represented. Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London increased to 3.8m 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 7pc of the office floorspace let in July 2018 at 100,000 sq ft. The West End saw 276,000 sq ft of take-up. Midtown contributed a record breaking 950,000 sq ft of lettings. Current London office demand is calculated to be around 3.6m 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 800,000 sq ft sq ft (57% 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 650 ‘live’ London requirements, with deals for space of up to 1.7m sq ft due to sign in the next few months.

Cityoffices is working 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