Smaller end of the market

Recent research from property firm Colliers International suggests a higher demand for startup-sized offices in London and this in turn is putting a downward pressure on lease lengths.

Colliers say that across London in 2018 to date, transactions for space of 5,000 sq ft or less represented 78% of the total deals by number, up from 69% in 2015. Sub-2,500 sq ft offices represented 57% of the deals by number – the category’s highest level since 2012.

Metropolis saw 306 letting in the first six months of 2017 of over 5,000 sq ft each, although in the same period in 2018 this fell slightly to 278 deals.

Colliers, which is forecasting the average lease to fall to 5.5 years during the course of 2018. The property adviser says that 2018 is the third successive year in which the proportion of sub-5,000 sq ft deals has risen.

According to Colliers, the trend is particularly evident across Shoreditch, Soho and Paddington.

WeWork’s exposure to London is likely to exceed 3.5 million square foot in 2018, putting increasing pressure on landlords, particularly those with assets around the 5,000 sq ft mark, to offer a more flexible, hybrid product to attract occupiers.

Stuart Melrose, director and head of occupier advisory for London offices at Colliers, commented: “We are seeing demand for flexible office space under 5,000 sq ft approaching an all-time high.

Research by Metropolis of over 820 London office lettings between January and June 2018 suggests an average lease size of 8130 sq ft compared to nearly 9,000 sq ft in 2017. The average lease length is 5 years, but with over 40% of lettings of 4 years or less.

The implication of this trend could be that companies operating in the market may need to contend with smaller relocations, with occupiers moving more frequently.

 

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Central London Office Lettings in June 2018

Central London office lettings in June 2018 reached just over 1m sq ft from 58 mid-large size office transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the month. The June 2018 figure is in line the current monthly London average of 1m sq ft.

June was characterised by 16 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which were led by the Sony Picture’s 77,000 sq ft deal to take Brunel Building in Paddington; Trade Desk’s 54,000 sq ft pre-letting at Barts Square, EC1 and WeWork’s 49,000 sq ft at 70 Wilson Street, EC2.

Business Services topped the table of lettings by sector, underpinned by WeWork, Office Group and Foraspace deals. This was followed by professional services led by a number of lettings by sdeals to Herbert Smith and Kaplan. Financial services, technology and media were also well represented. Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London increased to 3.6m 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 40pc of the office floorspace let in June 2018 at 400,,000 sq ft. The West End saw 349,000 sq ft of take-up. Midtown contributed 126,000 sq ft of lettings, plus 50,000 sq ft of Docklands deals. Current London office demand is calculated to be around 3.3m sq ft in the City and 2.7m sq ft in the West End.

The volume of grade A (newly built or refurbished office space) let during the month reached 366,000 sq ft sq ft (37% 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 645 ‘live’ London requirements, with deals for space of up to 1.9m 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 Metropolis and the Cityoffices database from Andy King at andy@metroinfo.co.uk

Metropolis Office Mover Leads in June 2018

Metropolis ran 562 business leads on ‘office movers’ in June 2018. If all reported moves were added together the total would exceed 14 million sq ft of office searches and transactions, researched by Metropolis’ unique market-led intelligence research team, last month.

London was the largest region with 240 business leads during month, but there were also strong showings from the South East (60),  Scotland (51) North West (43) and Yorkshire (35) . Business services and financials services were the largest business sectors planning relocations or agreeing moves during the month.

The relocation leads covered the whole UK and provided details of the size of the office occupier, company 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 562 June leads, included those on occupiers Amazon, British Airways, Barclays, Scottish Office and WeWork.

The June 2018 leads included 171 ‘identified requirements’, including 84 in London. Which means that the company confirmed to researchers that it has current or future plans to search for alternative office space. Of these 171 searches, 100 were newly posted office searches, not previously notified to clients.

The most recent research also included 160 ‘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 just 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 tender opportunities on the database in recent months, exceeded £1bn of business.

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