Requirements on the Rise?

Over the first two months Metropolis Property Research has noticed a small rise in the numbers of office occupiers launching new searches for office accommodation.

Some examples researched and published over the past week include:

  • An IT support firm, has told Metropolis that it is currently searching for around 200 sq m (2,200 sq ft) of office space within the South Bank area of London. The firm is planning to move from its current base in the Autumn of 2018;
  • A City of London-based energy consultancy, has told Metropolis that it has appointed an un-named property agent to advise on relocation or lease options in central London, ahead of a late 2018 lease break option. The company currently occupies 465 sq m (5,010 sq ft) of offices with about 35 staff;
  • A computer consultancy firm, has told Metropolis that it is currently searching for around 475 sq m (5,100 sq ft) of office space in the Maidenhead area. Staff advise that a move date has not been set, but that it will likely take place around Autumn 2018.;
  • An energy exploration company, has strongly hinted that it is considering launching a search for alternative London West End offices in 2018;
  • An IT consultancy firm, has told Metropolis that it is currently searching for around 220 sq m (2,400 sq ft) of office space in Bristol. A senior contact has stated that an ideal move date would be around October or November 2018;
  • A Leeds headquartered print management company, is planning to open an office in London by 2020;

Metropolis researches around 140 new office requirements each month in the UK, plus hundred of other companies pondering move decisions and agreeing lettings.

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The Magnificent Seven

A recent report from Savills reveals that for a fourth consecutive year, UK regional city office take-up has surpassed the long term average of 9.1m sq ft. Total take-up in 2016 reached an impressive
9.6m sq ft, despite a year of political uncertainty.

The final quarter of regional office take-up in 2017 reached 2.4m sq ft, the strongest quarter since Q2 2015. Roughly the same level of occupational demand was recorded during the first half and second half
of the 2016, with no post referendum slowdown evident.

The most active of the seven major UK cities in 2016 were Bristol and Cardiff, which recorded take-up improvements of 42% and 10% on 2015’s levels respectively, with Cardiff achieving its highest level of take-up in 15 years. A key driver of occupational demand in these cities was the Government Property Unit (GPU) requirements for consolidating public sector bases into regional hubs. Savills expect the GPU to be the key contributor to acquisitions over 100,000 sq ft in 2017 in cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and Belfast, during 2017.

The most active business sectors during 2016 were the insurance and financial services sector, accounting for 1.2 million sq ft (15%) of space taken, which marked a record year. Key deals include: Swinton
Insurance taking 165,000 sq ft at 101 Embankment, Manchester, whilst MotoNovo Finance took 72,000 sq ft at One Central Square, Cardiff.
The tech sector remained an important contributor to take-up during 2016 and accounted for 20% of the number of transactions. This sector has traditionally contributed to the smaller end of the market, but also included Co-op Digital acquiring 45,000 sq ft of accommodation in Manchester, while Micro-chip designer, Cirrus Logic’s 70,000 sq ft letting at Quartermile, Edinburgh marked the largest regional tech deal last year. Edinburgh witnessed the highest proportion of tech take-up of all the UK cities.

Metropolis ran 53 medium and large office requirements for Birmingham in 2016, totalling 1.4m sq ft; the totals for other cities were Bristol 66 requirements and 1.6m sq ft; Cardiff 35 requirements and 1.1m sq ft; Edinburgh 65 requirements and 1.5m sq ft; Glasgow 51 requirements and 1.4m sq ft; Leeds 74 requirements and 2m sq ft; Manchester 90 requirements and 2.5m sq ft.
A shortage of Grade A floorspace in city centres,  prompted occupiers to look out of town as total fringe/out of town take-up reaching 2.8 million sq ft, eclipsing the record level set during 2014. Occupiers were also attracted out of town offices due to availability of larger floorplate stock and cheaper rents, particularly in the Manchester and Glasgow markets. Glasgow was boosted by the University of the West of Scotland’s 225,000 sq ft pre-let of the Eco Campus.

Overall, 44% of the 3.6m sq ft of regional office space currently under construction across the UK regions has been pre-let. Examples include PwC’s part pre-let of One Chamberlain Square in Birmingham
There are 8 million sq ft of known lease expiries over the next five years, there also remains underlying demand for new space, with the likely strongest performers for 2017 predicted to be Leeds, Cardiff and Bristol. There is a shortage of Grade A space, particularly in Bristol and Manchester. Top regional rents remain low relative to Central London.

The Metropolis view is that demand is holding up well in regional cities with 130 new requirements added to the database for the seven largest cities outside London in Q1 2017.

Birmingham Summer 2016 Office Market Update

A recent report by Colliers International concluded that central Birmingham city office take-up reached 217,000 sq ft in 40 deals during Q2 2016, which was above the five-year quarterly average.

Birmingham office transactions in 2016 added up to 501,000 sq ft in 76 deals. Network Rail agreed to take 85,000 sq ft over three floors at Baskerville House in Centenary Square; Energy Systems Catapult is to relocate to 18,000 sq ft office space at Cannon House; DAC Beachcroft has signed to take 40,000 sq ft of office space on part third, fourth and fifth floors, at Tricorn House and Monarch Recruitment is taking another 10,000 sq ft floor at Temple Point, 1 Temple Row.

Metropolis is tracking over 30 medium/large requirements in Birmingham, including from searches from the likes of London Midland, Emcor and Zurich Insurance.

Birmingham city core is expected to bring onstream up to 1 million sq ft of new development between 2017 and 2019. Schemes include Stirling Property Ventures and Rockspring 235,000 sq ft at 103 Colmore Row, formerly Natwest Tower. Also 3 Snowhill will deliver 385,000 sq ft of Grade A office space by early 2019.

In the short term the refurbishment of 55 Colmore Row, will deliver 156,000 sq ft of prime Grade A space; the Cornerblock will deliver 110,000 sq ft of Grade A refurbished space in Q4 2016, while Ardstone Capital’s 1 Newhall Street will provide 45,000 sq ft of Grade A space by late 2016.

Regional Office Market Outlook

In a recent 2016 reporty by Savills, the consultant points to a trend for demand for prime office space in regional cities to increase dramatically during 2016.

Savills say that demand is driven by local businesses, start-ups, and the rise in ‘northshoring’, where London costs are driving relocations to regional markets.

Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Edinburgh saw increases of 39%,105% 41% and 44% respectively, above their ten year average annual office take-up, with Birmingham and Cardiff having record years. Bristol is tipped to see the best lettings growth in 2016.

Metropolis has seen a 20% rise in the number of regional city office requirements between 2014 and 2015.

Deutsche Bank’s move to Birmingham and HSBC pre-let of 210,000 sq ft at Birmingham’s new 2 Arena Central scheme are examples of ‘northshoring’ with companies moving staff away from London to cheaper office space in regional cities. In addition, the number of local pre-lets in regional cities is growing, such as Squire Patton Boggs’ pre-let on 27,500 sq ft at No.1 Spinningfields in Manchester and Cirrus Logic’s 70,000 sq ft pre-let at Quartermile 4 in Edinburgh.

Tenant demand has re-ignited speculative office development in regional cities, with construction up 130% on a year ago.

Savills concludes that UK wide activity points to increasing demand from sectors such as TMT which is estimated to see a c.700,000 of jobs created in the regions over the next 10 years. More office requirements from public sector agencies and Central Government are also expected

Cityoffices – A February 2016 Taster

Below is the February 2016 taster for http://www.Cityoffices.net – the sister leads provider to the market leading Metropolis Property Research.

With the office construction sector booming in London (current survey work by Cityoffices shows the number of active London schemes to be nearly 100) there is a huge volume of tenders being sought and awarded as every role from architects, planners and engineers to service consultants, letting agents and acoustic consultants are being appointed on a daily basis.

Looking back over February 2016 this Cityoffices bulletin looks at recent news of some of the schemes (there are dozens of applications and over 200 planning consents in the pipeline) which have progressed in the last month and some of the schemes which developers are likely to progress in the next 2-3 years. Upto 25 London stories are posted each month. The London news stories and many regional updates in February, are backed up with full project details, including teams and contact names,where appointed, on the database. This month included:

In London:

  • A consent for a refurbishment on a 200,000 sq ft City of London building;
  • A Midtown planning consent to form a 90,000 sq ft scheme;
  • A new application for a 20,000 sq ft office refurbishment in the West End;
  • A new scheme at a site on London’s Southbank;
  • A pre-let of an under construction office building in London, SE1;
  • A full office deal analysis for January 2016, including details of a wide range of recent lettings.

Outside London:

  • Construction start on a 260,000 sq ft Birmingham scheme;
  • A new application for a site in Bristol, where work could start this year;
  • A refurbishment underway of a 50,000 sq ft Cardiff office building;
  • News of some lettings agreed at a just completed scheme in Glasgow;
  • Construction start on a new office block in Edinburgh;
  • Progress on a major Leeds office refurbishment due for summer 2017 completion;
  • Application for a second phase at a fully let Manchester office scheme;
  • A Newcastle scheme secures a tenant

These are just a sample of the many office projects that Cityoffices reports on each month and backed up with full histories and contact names and numbers where available. No other information provider can match a fraction of Cityoffices’ coverage.

If you would like to know more about annual Cityoffices subscriptions from only £750 – email Andy King at andy@metroinfo.co.uk

The 2016 UK Office Market Outlook

A report out this week from consultant CBRE on the outlook for the UK office market in 2016, suggests that despite some slight economic slowing, that most office sectors will see further growth over the next 12 months.

The report forecasts that although central London will continue to be the major engine of UK office market growth, the pace of that growth will ease slightly in 2016, due to a softening of UK growth. The report suggests that a dip in new office completions in London in 2016 will push up rental growth, however an increased pipeline of completions in 2017 will give office tenants more choice in the medium term.

Outside London, the report suggests that the South East will see more activity in 2016, after a sluggish 2015. Recent, mainly pre-let driven, quarterly take-up records set in Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Aberdeen and Birmingham are unlikely to be repeated and the churn of secondhand office space is likely to become the mainstay of regional office take-up again, albeit alongside a lower level of pre-let deals.

The report spotlights that the areas where office demand is currently highest include West London and Thames Valley. Central London demand remains around 10m sq ft. It also forecasts an increase in speculative office development in regional centres. Schemes are tracked on the Cityoffices website.

Current Metropolis statistics show close to 1,000 unsatisfied office requirements across the UK of 2,000 sq ft+. In addition, there are over 500 lease expiries approaching in London alone, where companies have yet to make up their minds on whether to stay or go.

Based on similar audits of office requirements in recent years, office demand looks stronger than for a number of years.

London West End Autumn 2015 – A Preview

Significant Demand In The Pipeline

This Metropolis blog breaks new ground with an attempt to give clients an insight into the ‘work in progress’ on forthcoming office requirements in the London West End market. In the spirit of those TV autumn trailers, we set out below a flavour of some of the stories we hope to bring Metropolis clients over the next two months.

Some Background

Outstanding, unsatisfied, named office requirements in central London are now estimated by Metropolis to be over 10m sq ft, which is the highest figure since the recession. This can only be an approximate figure as ‘requirements’ cover all types of searches from urgent ones involving tenants in buildings where the lease expires ahead of demolition to half-hearted searches by occupiers who are 90% sure that they will renew the lease, but want to compare the market in order to put some pressure on the existing landlord.

Many of the larger requirements (over 20,000 sq ft) are in advance of lease expiries in 2017-19. However, smaller searches below 10,000 sq ft, are often launched less than 18 months before lease expiry. In many cases the occupier is only looking because it needs more space, has a lease end, or it is affected by redevelopment. The costs of relocation tend to limit the number of ‘sideways moves’ involving a company relocating from one building to another, whilst keeping its occupancy size the same.

Recent West End Activity

Office relocation  activity in London’s West End has been a little muted so far in 2015. Figures compiled by Metropolis show Central London take-up in the 8 months to August was 7.6m sq ft, of which only 2m sq ft was to office space in the West End. Some 140,000 sq ft has been pre-let, 450,000 sq ft is grade A newly completed space, with the remainder secondhand.

Some of the larger deals have included Marshall Wace Asset Management’s 43,000 sq ft pre-let of 131 Sloane Street in Knightsbridge; Richemont’s 38,000 sq ft deal at Walmer House on Regents Street and just last month King.com’s letting of 65,000 sq ft at the recently-completed Ampersand Building on Oxford Street. Facebook is also set to confirm its 217,000 sq ft pre-letting of the under construction Rathbone Square in London, W1, which will be the largest West End letting this year.

What’s Coming Up

We are currently researching a number of promising West End leads which look likely to result in 40 named requirements and potentially 1.6m sq ft of office deals.

The majority of office requirements are for a move in 2016 (29), with the remainder lining up moves for 2017 or 2018. Some 23 occupiers are citing expansion as the trigger for their move, while 16 have lease events and the remainder are consolidating fragmented buildings or downsizing.

In terms of the sector, as the graph below shows, it is the media sector which dominates, followed by IT/e-commerce and financial services, including hedge funds and asset managers. The business services sector also remains important with a steady stream of new requirements from serviced office operators.

 

WE Requirements

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around a quarter of companies are looking in the core areas of Mayfair and St James’s, with a further quarter searching in Victoria. A further 25% are searching Soho and north of Oxford Street up to Kings Cross and Euston with the remainder looking in fringe areas such as Camden or Hammersmith.

By size, around half of the 40 requirements are below 20,000 sq ft, with a third between 20,000 and 50,000 sq ft and the remaining five searches are over 100,000 sq ft.

In Conclusion

There is a healthy pipeline of new requirements being launched in London’s West End this autumn. As would be expected, media companies, hedge funds and asset managers are very active, but these have been joined by some of the large e-commerce and social network companies and business service providers to increase the competition for space. Metropolis is working to research the details of these requirements and will be publishing these online for clients shortly.

 

Copyright Metropolis Property Research Ltd 2015