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

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Rise of the pre-let

Recent research by Metropolis revealed that a total of 133 occupiers were involved in pre-let searches or deals during 2018. These included a wide variety of moves across the whole of the UK. In London, a record breaking 39 pre-let deals were signed during 2018 totalling 3.8m sq ft, ahead of the previously record-breaking 2.74 million sq ft of pre-lets agreed in 2013.

Reasons given by occupiers for the risingof pre-lets are varied, but include upcoming lease events, continued limited new developments coming on the market and faith in London. It is clear that tech and media firms are making significant long-term commitments to new buildings, alongside traditional City occupiers, including those in the insurance and financial sectors. 2018 was the year that global brands made big commitments, including the likes of real estate-savvy Facebook and Sony both committing to new European headquarters in the West End and King’s Cross.

Metropolis has identified up to 50 named occupiers, which have on-going London searches, which could sign pre-lets on under construction, new or newly refurbished office space in 2019.

Recent research by Cushman & Wakefield indicated that over the last ten years there has been a total of 24.4 million sq ft of office space let pre-let transactions completed. On average, there were 27
pre-lets each year over this period, with the peak being 2013 and 2014. Pre-letting is more common in the City, Docklands and City fringe, than in the West End.

Large pre-lets from TMT (tech, media and telecom) companies in recent years including Apple’s acquisition at Battersea Power Station (475,000 sq ft), Dentsu Aegis Network’s 312,000 sq ft deal at 1 Triton Square, Linkedin in Farringdon and Facebook’s recent commitment at King’s Cross (600,000 sq ft). Banking & financial occupiers were the next most active sector, accounting for 31% of total pre-let volumes over the last ten years, including Deutsche Bank’s future relocation into 21 Moorfields (469,000 sq ft), SMBC’s acquisition at 100 Liverpool Street (161,000 sq ft), Wells Fargo and TP ICAP’s pre-let of part of 135 Bishopsgate (122,000 sq ft).

Public sector and government occupiers have also driven pre-let volumes, including large-scale consolidations from HMRC, FCA and TfL, as well as the Chinese Embassy’s transaction at Royal Mint Court.

King’s Cross is one of the most popular desinations for new office stock secure pre-let in recent years, including deals in 2018 to Nike (63,000 sq ft), Facebook, Google, Spaces and WeWork. West End submarkets such as White City, Battersea and Nine Elms have have also attracted significant pre-lets including in 2018, Penguin Random House (83,000 sq ft).

It is clear that occupiers are looking beyond the traditional core office markets. Banking & financial occupiers took the largest share of tower pre-lets over the last 10 years with 32% of total volumes, matched by insurance companies (32%). Some 17% of lettings were prelet prior to construction and 29% let during the construction process, compared to 54% let post completion.

Outside of London, Barclays pre-let 470,000 sq ft at Buchanan Wharf in Glasgow. The new campus complex will house existing Glasgow staff along with new positions created in technology and operations functions. in Manchester, Booking.com has pre-let 222,000 sq ft at St John’s Building, as the new global headquarters for its ground transportation division, consolidating four offices around the city.

Research has revealed that larger occupiers are considering their options 3-4 years ahead of a move, especially if the target is a move in the core districts. Trends also include some smaller pre-lets with shorter leases, particularly whilst schemes are under construction. Competition for core space is making fringe locations more desirable, especially with the possibility of rental savings.

Metropolis is currently tracking over 100 occupiers looking for over 20,000 sq ft of offices in 2019-20, more than half of which could consider a pre-let.

Paul Ives Metropolis Head of Research – paul@metroinfo.co.uk

Pre-lets on the rise

JLL’s recent London office report reveals that London office take-up reached 2.4 million sq ft in Q1 (Metropolis registered 3m sq ft), lower than the quarterly average but ahead of both the equivalent period in 2017 and the 10 year average for the first quarter.

JLL say that The West End was the strongest performing market, with take-up reaching 932,000 sq ft, the strongest Q1 for three years. City leasing volumes were robust at 1.3 million sq ft, marginally ahead of the equivalent period in 2017.

Pre-letting was a major feature of the market, accounting for nearly a third of quarterly take-up. JLL say that this will remain a feature of the market throughout the year with 45% of the 3.5 million sq ft currently under offer.

Metropolis saw around 40% of office space let being accounted for by pre-lets in the first months of 2018.

Across central London development completions have continued to be quickly absorbed, with 70% of quarterly completions pre-leased or let shortly after completion.

In The City, banking and finance sectors were most active with a 28% share of take-up, buoyed by the largest transaction of the quarter, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe’s pre-let of 161,000 sq ft at 100 Liverpool Street, EC2. The service industries and professional services sectors were also prominent, accounting for 27% and 25% of quarterly take-up respectively, including major transactions to Sidley Austin LLP, Charles Taylor and Prudential.

In the West End, The TMT and services sectors had the largest share of quarterly take-up with 33% and 25% respectively. Within the services sector, the majority of take-up (63%) involved flexible office providers indicating that this sector is continuing to expand.

To conclude, JLL say that business sentiment remains robust and employment continues to rise strongly

Metropolis Office Movers October 2017

Metropolis ran 548 business leads on ‘office movers’ in the month of October 2017. If all reported moves were added together the total would exceed 8 million sq ft of office searches and transactions, researched by Metropolis’ unique market led intelligence research team. London was the largest region with 251 leads during month, but there were also strong showings from the South East (60), North West (40) and Scotland (36). IT services, professional and financial were the largest business sectors planning relocations or agreeing moves during the month.

The business leads covered the whole UK and provided details of the size of the office occupier, its likely move dates, a description of the reasons for the move, its business sector and full contact details including an address for written inquiries, at least one telephone number and in most cases an email address. Some of the largest planned moves and top picks amongst the 548 October leads, included those on Dentsu Aegis, Sumitomo Mitsui Bank, WeWork, Royal London Insurance and Dyson.

The October 2017 leads included 165 ‘identified requirements’. Which means that the company confirmed to researchers that it has current or future plans to search for alternative office space. Of these 165 searches, 100 were new office searches, not previously notified to clients.

The most recent research also included 150 ‘potential movers’ which were mainly longer-term leads on occupiers, considering a relocation, but the occupier has yet to make a final decision on whether to search.

Most of the remaining stories covered companies that have signed for new office space and have set a move date, including some large pre-lets and companies inviting tenders for fit-out contracts. The shortest planned move date is just over a month away, whilst the longest was late 2020.

Recent research by Metropolis concluded that a conservative estimate of ‘live’ business opportunities on the database in recent months exceeded £1bn of business.

If you would like some information on flexible Metropolis subscription packages, then please email Simon at simon@metroinfo.co.uk

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Cityoffices.net, the sister property leads service to Metropolis, is about to publish its ‘Autumn 2017’ survey on the office construction market in central London, with details of new schemes starting, the dozens of schemes at preparation stage and 200 office schemes in the pipeline for construction starts in 2017-2020.

For more information on Cityoffices, email Andy at andy@metroinfo.co.uk

Central London Office Lettings – October 2015

Central London office lettings registered a subdued 550,000 sq ft of transactions in October 2015, spread across 36 deals during the month.

October was characterised by 9 deals over 20,000 sq ft, including One Avenue Group at Dawson House, 5 Jewry Street, EC3; Ince & Co at Aldgate Tower, E1; Alexander McQueen at 1 Aylesbury Street, EC1 and N1 and Coller Capital at Park House, W1.

Business services topped the table of lettings by sector, helped by the One Avenue deal, followed by professional boosted by Ince & Co and another law firm. Office deals under offer (including Thomson Reuters) fell slightly to 3.7m sq ft.

By area, the City accounted for a little under half the total space at 35pc of the floorspace let in the month. Current London office demand is calculated to be around 5.8m sq ft in the City and 3.8m sq ft in the West End. Availability rose to 10.9m sq ft, helped by completion of a number of schemes in Q4.

The volume of grade A (newly built or refurbished office space) let during the month reached 317,000 sq ft (58% of the total), as transactions for newly developed or refurbished space took a large part of the total.

Metropolis is about to publish a new report on upcoming London office schemes for autumn 2015.