London Office Lettings in May 2018

Central London office lettings in May 2018 reached over 1.3m sq ft from 45 mid-large size office transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the month. The May 2018 figure is above the current monthly London average of 1m sq ft.

May was characterised by 14 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which were led by the Chinesse Embassy’s deal to take Royal Mint in EC3; The Office Group’s 83,000 sq ft letting at One Canada Square, E14 and Epiris Advisers’ 59,000 sq ft at The Forum in Gutter Lane, EC2.

Public Services topped the table of lettings by sector, underpinned by Chinese Embassy deal. This was followed by business services led by a number of lettings by serviced office operators. Financial services, technology and media were also well represented. Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London increased to 3.4m sq ft, and pending deal volumes are healthy in nearly all sub-markets, with a large number of deals pending.

By area, the City accounted for 70pc of the office floorspace let in April 2018 at 912,,000 sq ft. The West End saw 209,000 sq ft of take-up. Midtown contributed 57,000 sq ft of lettings, plus 83,000 sq ft of Docklands deals. Current London office demand is calculated to be around 3.2m sq ft in the City and 2.6m sq ft in the West End.

The volume of grade A (newly built or refurbished office space) let during the month reached 1m sq ft sq ft (77% 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 1.8m sq ft due to sign in the next few months.

Cityoffices is working on its current ‘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 the report and the Cityoffices database from Andy King at andy@metroinfo.co.uk

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Fit-Out Market Review

CBRE has just published its latest 2018 European Fit-Out Cost Review. Amongst its conclusions are:

Nearly three quarters of companies in the region have looked to boost the space efficiency of existing buildings in the past year, according to CBRE’s Occupier Survey. CBRE expect further evolution of workplace strategies and new approaches to flexible working over the coming years.

Trends include: Space designed to foster more effective collaboration (generating ideas and driving innovation); Space with improved environmental qualities (temperature, lighting, décor, etc.), more attention to ‘wellness’ and smarter use of technology.

In terms of furniture, CBRE say careful planning and programming is essential. This usually involves a move consultant working with client to identify and understand the current set-up, to plan for and accommodate activities critical for business continuity, movement of employees, furniture and equipment. The move consultant will implement a comprehensive communications plan.

In terms of removals CBRE estimate costs in central London vary between 24 euros for a basic move (agile working) within a floor to 136 euros per person for a full desk and IT move between buildings.

In terms of Lease reinstatement (also known as‘dilapidations’), CBRE estimate 200-240 euros per square metre in central London.  assuming moderate wear based on a 1,000 sq m office.

In terms of procurement and interior build, CBRE estimate 25-30 weeks for a UK location for a medium specification 1,000 sq m fit-out project.

CBRE also outline the implications of potential tax savings across various EMEA countries, based on a total expenditure of €2,500,000 for a CAT B fit-out.

CBRE estimate that typical fit-out costs for a 1,000 sq m office range from 1,000 euros per sq m for a low budget move to 2,200 euros per sq m for a high budget London move. These costs would include Cat B fit-out, furniture, security, AV, IT, fees and contingency.  These costs would be around 20% cheaper in Manchester or Glasgow.

Metropolis leads provide a stream of notifications on fit-out tendering opportunities and contract awards. It has published 100 such leads in the last 3 months.

Opportunities in Serviced Offices

Colliers International has published a new report on the serviced or flexible workspace sector. Colliers outline how the workplace solutions providers have been hoovering up office space in London at a faster rate than any other sector apart from tech and media.

Flexible office providers have accounted for 18% of take-up across London during 2017 date. Central London is now home to over 7.8 million sq ft of flexible workspace from 4.5 million sq ft in 2009. This is a rise of 73% in eight years, although flexible workspace space currently only represents 4% of total London office stock.

2017 is set to deliver up to 15,000 desks by year end. Serviced office lettings appeared to have peaked at 1.4 million sq ft in 2015, however, 2017 is set to see that figure eclipsed with 1.2 million already let and a further 750,000 sq ft under offer.

WeWork has taken over 1.25 million sq ft of office space within the past 12 months. Blackstone and British Land have both begun in-house flexibile solution without leasing space to major providers like WeWork or Regus.

Paddington and City fringe, have seen increasing vacancy rates below 5,000 sq ft, and Victoria and parts of Midtown have seen void periods double in 2017. The City core has held up, but also seen activity from providers such as WeWork, Prospect Business Centres, i2, Regus and LEO.

Metropolis has researched nearly 20 specific requirements for medium/large London serviced offices in recent months. These new searches come on top of 25 recent transactions for space. Opportunities exist for agents recruiting occupiers for the large new flexible work centres, for fit-out contractors refurbishing usually previously vacant space, for furniture providers and removal firms handling the myriad moves to the new buildings.

Colliers say the need for short leases and flexible space, particularly since the Brexit vote, is driving demand for increasing volumes of flexible workspace space. Although, flexible workspace only represents 4% of London office stock, it looks set to become an important slice of the market, not just in London, but increasingly in regional cities too.