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

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Top Ten London Business Sectors

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For the sixth year running, Banking and finance leads dominate the London business sector top ten. The largest search for space emerging from this sector in 2014 was a 300,000 sq ft requirement for HQ offices in London EC3, closely followed by a 200,000 sq ft office requirement in London EC2 and a similar sized requirement from a bank looking in EC4. Total new office demand in London from this sector was 4m sq ft.

Office demand from hedge funds amounted to just under 250,000 sq ft, with the average requirement a search for about 10,000 sq ft and the most popular postcodes London W1, SW1 and WC2. Demand from financial investment firms was 800,000 sq ft, with the most popular postcodes London EC2, EC3 and EC4.

Newly identified office demand from the media sector in London was about 2.5m sq ft. The largest search was a 300,000 sq ft requirement for HQ space in London W6. Other significant searches focused on London EC1 and SE1. The technology and telecoms sector, often grouped with Media under the banner “TMT”, had a similar preference for space in these postcodes, with space in WC1 and N1 also of considerable interest. Technology and telecoms demand for London offices was just over 1.5m sq ft.

 

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London office demand from the law sector remains strong, with 2m sq ft of new requirements identified last year. London EC2 and EC4 remain the most popular postcodes for this sector, although a significant number of 30,000 sq ft searches centered on London WC1 and WC2. There were over 40 confirmed law firm lettings last year, with 50% of firms yet to move.

New insurance sector office demand centered on London EC3, with 700,000 sq ft of space required in this postcode last year, matching 2013 demand. Another 300,000 sq ft was required by this sector, mainly in EC2.

In central London, Metropolis identified just over 14m sq ft of new requirements for offices. The top 5 most sought after postcodes areas by demand were: EC2 (3m sq ft), EC3 (2m sq ft), EC4 (1.6m sq ft), E14 (1.5m sq ft) and W1 (1.4m sq ft).

 

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There is currently a healthy level of competition for good quality completed and pipeline space in central London. We expect 2015 to be another good year for London fit-out, as companies continue to occupy space pre-let in previous years.

According to our research office take up in 2014 reached 12.7m sq ft, up 5% on the 2013 total. Take up in 2015 is also likely to be strong, but may not grow again by quite the same margin. Metropolis is currently tracking just over 12m sq ft of live office requirements in London and is picking up moves, on average, over 18 months before a deal is signed.

Copyright Metropolis Property Research Ltd, January 2015

 

UK Office Requirements H1 2014

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Banking and Finance leads the way

The UK office market continues to show promising signs of recovery.  Office deals in London could exceed 13m sq ft by the end of this year and Metropolis H1 2014 research has identified over 300 companies actively searching for central London office space.

Over half of the 10m sq ft required in central London is fueled by the City, where 169 companies search for a total of 5.7m sq ft.  Notable City of London requirements include a 300,000 sq ft search by a UK investment and asset management firm and a 250,000 sq ft law firm search prompted by consolidation of two offices.

Demand for space in the West End, once again the most expensive office location in the world (CBRE Global Research), was 1.3m sq ft in the first six months of 2014, with 1.2m sq ft required in Mid Town. Two of the top three West End requirements by size originate from major advertising companies.

Law and media sector requirements dominate Mid Town demand, with over 200,000 sq ft required by law firms and 250,000 sq ft required by media agencies.

1.4m sq ft of demand was researched in Docklands and 0.4m sq ft of demand was researched in South Bank, where rents on new schemes have recently reached £50 psf.

Our UK research as a whole identified over 700 companies searching for a total of 20m sq ft, 16m sq ft in the South of the UK and 4m sq ft in Wales, Midlands, North and Scotland.

The Banking & Finance sector is leading the demand for new UK offices, with just over 3.6m sq ft of requirements in the UK, 2.6m sq ft of which is sought in the City of London. The Technology and Telecoms sector accounts for 2.1m sq ft of UK demand, Law 2m sq ft and Media 1.8m sq ft.

 

OD sq ft by sector

 

 

 

 

 

 

OD sq ft by London postcode

 

 

 

 

 

 

1m sq ft of office demand was identified in the North West, 0.6m sq ft of which was attributed to Manchester.  The Manchester office market is looking lively, with take-up reaching 800,000 sq ft in H1, making it the strongest regional performer.

Just under 1m sq ft of demand was identified in the Yorkshire and Humberside region, with 70% of searches focused on Leeds. Notable requirements in Leeds include a 70,000 sq ft law firm search and a 60,000 sq ft search by a major accountancy firm.

Just under 500,000 sq ft of demand was identified in both Birmingham and Edinburgh. Two of the largest requirements in Birmingham were law firm searches for about 30,000 sq ft and a major accountancy firm was also linked with a requirement for 50,000 sq ft.

In Edinburgh, the majority of office requirements were for less than 10,000 sq ft, although a 75,000 sq ft requirement from a computer games studio and a 40,000 sq ft law firm search were notable exceptions.

After an encouraging start to 2014 UK office demand looks set to comfortably outstrip its 2013 levels. In central London, notable office searches include requirements from Societe Generale, Wells Fargo and National Grid.

In Manchester, H1 office deals include lettings to Slater Gordon, Trader Media and Barclays Bank. Bristol and Edinburgh also saw a better than average six months, with a number of requirements, including Ovo Energy in Bristol due to come to fruition in the second half of 2014.

Birmingham also has a number of requirements from law firms and accountants including BDO. In Glasgow, searches by Cigna and National Rail are expected to complete soon. Cardiff has seen some activity at its new schemes, while Liverpool has seen a number of midsize deals.

 

OD sq ft by region

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Sluszny 2014, (C) Metropolis Property Research Ltd

 

 

 

London office lettings surge

After 3m sq ft was let in Q2 2013 in central London, followed by over one million sq ft of deals in July 2013, a further 1.2m sq ft of office relocations were registered in the traditionally quiet month of August, according to new research by Metropolis.

The largest deals involved Ogilvy & Mather, KPMG and Field Fisher Waterhouse.

At the same time Metropolis unearthed a further one million sq ft of new office requirements in the City, West End and Midtown during the month, so it is likely that momentum will be maintained.

Mayfair scheme underway

Terrace Hill is underway with the redevelopment of 49-51 Conduit Street and 24-24A Savile Row, Mayfair, London, W1.  McLaren Construction is main contractor. The designer is EPR Architects and the scheme consists of a 3,943 sq m (42,437 sq ft) building including 3,096 sq m (33,320 sq ft) of offices, plus retail space.

(C) CityOffices.net 2013, www.cityoffices.net

Lease renewals falling

Recent research from Metropolis conducted over the last 3 months indicates that the number of companies planning to renew their lease in 2014 has dropped from 60% in spring 2013 to 55% in summer 2013. In time, this should lead to more office searches.