Office Market Defies Gravity

Office market reviews for 2018 suggest that he UK office market continued to defy gravity as the third and fourth quarters recorded one of the highest levels of office letting activity in the last five years.

The Central London market is seeing quarterly take-up of up to 3.5 million sq ft, the highest since 2015. The increase was boosted by a number of large transactions in new or recently refurbished space, which is accounting for two-thirds of all deals. The number of pre-lets announced in the year has broken records. Space under offer in central London currently totals nearly 3 million sq ft, suggesting year-end take-up could exceed 12 million sq ft and be the highest seen in the capital since 2015.

Regional cities are also seeing high office mover activity with almost 2 million sq ft of space acquired per quarter, the second-highest on record. Letting activity in Glasgow reached a record level, and Newcastle recently reached a 14-year quarterly high. All but one of the eight regions witnessed a quarter-on-quarter increase in take-up.

Metropolis Research reported on over 5,000 individual office moves over the course of the year, with many more occupiers poised to make decisions in 2019

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London Office Market – November 2018

Central London office lettings in November 2018 reached just over 1m sq ft from 57 mid-large size office transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the month. The November 2018 figure is in line with the current monthly London average of 1m sq ft.

November was characterised by 16 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which were led by the Deloitte Digital’s 99,000 sq ft deal at Shoe Place, EC4 along with large deals to Starlizard in Camden; THB Group’s pre-let at 22 Bishopsgate, EC3 plus Axis Speciality and National Australia Bank at ‘The Scalpel’.

IT services topped the table of lettings by sector, compiled by Metropolis, underpinned by the Deloitte deal. This was followed by business services led by lettings to Knotel, ETC Venues and Wework. Insurance, professional and business services were also well represented. Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London remained at 3.7m sq ft, and pending deal volumes are healthy in nearly all sub-markets, with a number of deals pending.

By area, the City accounted for 48pc of the office floorspace let in November 2018 at 480,000 sq ft. The West End saw 200,000 sq ft of take-up. Midtown contributed 150,000 sq ft of lettings and Docklands 40,000 sq ft. Current London office demand is calculated to be around 3.8m sq ft in the City and 3.3m sq ft in the West End.

The volume of grade A (newly built or refurbished office space) let during the month, reached a healthy 460,000 sq ft sq ft (46% 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 635 ‘live’ London office requirements, with pending deals for space of up to 1.5m sq ft due to sign in the next few months.

Cityoffices is close to completing on its autumn ‘Skyline Survey’ Report in London. Details on Metropolis database from Paul Ives at paul@metroinfo.co.uk

Central London office lettings in August 2018

Central London office lettings in August 2018 reached just over 750,000 sq ft from 40 mid-large size office transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the month. The August 2018 figure is below the current monthly London average of 1m sq ft.

August was characterised by 9 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which were led by the Investec’s 123,000 sq ft deal to pre-let 55 Gresham Street, EC2, N1; Competition and Markets Authority 105,000 sq ft deal at 25 Cabot Square, E14 and Hiscox’s 75,000 sq ft pre-let at 22 Bishopsgate, EC2.

Financial services topped the table of lettings by sector, compiled by Metropolis, underpinned by the Investec deal. This was followed by business services led by a number of lettings to Office Space in Town and LEO. Insurance, professional and media were also well represented. Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London increased to 3.9m sq ft, and pending deal volumes are healthy in nearly all sub-markets, with a number of deals pending.

By area, the City accounted for 47pc of the office floorspace let in August 2018 at 354,000 sq ft. The West End saw 150,000 sq ft of take-up. Midtown contributed 69,000 sq ft of lettings. Current London office demand is calculated to be around 3.7m sq ft in the City and 3.2m sq ft in the West End.

The volume of grade A (newly built or refurbished office space) let during the month reached 413,000 sq ft sq ft (55% 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 1.8m sq ft due to sign in the next few months.

Cityoffices is working on its autumn ‘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

Future of M25 Offices

Knight Frank have recently published a report on the future of the office market around the M25 motorway.

Key conclusions include:

The South East office market is a major attraction to occupational demand from the technology sector. The tech sector has accounted for, on average, 23% of annual office take-up in the region over the
last five years and has absorbed some 3.8 million sq ft of office transactions. Examples include Farnborough Business Park or the Aerospace Centre, which are driving technology sector take-up levels.

Also, occupiers drawn from other sectors have been transformed by the application of new technology to business processes, often fuelling new property requirements;  Gartner, Future Electronics, VMWare and
Service Now are major players in this field.

Co-working and flexi providers – not yet prominent within the M25 market – place tremendous emphasis on providing real estate and associated services that support the creation of a highly connected,
collaborative community housed within a modern, curated and highly serviced environment and could be a major sector in the future. The serviced and co-working offering is becoming increasingly sophisticated to take advantage of the major corporate occupier presence around Heathrow. This occupational drive toward greater flexibility and amenity is filtering into the business park model where Stockley Park and Bedfont Lakes become more service orientated.

Occupiers want to attract and retain talented staff. They will locate in buildings and locations that support them in this task. They are seeking what ‘talent magnets’; locations that have a buzz, vibrancy and cohesion. New growth areas are appearing in West London with White City, Imperial College and the redevelopment of Television Centre, propelling West London to become a recognised and established London hub;

The knowledge economy is the trump card for the South East of England over other regions and indeed other European location.

Metropolis is tracking around 50 major office requirements in the M25 region.

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.

 

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

Edinburgh’s Strong 2nd Quarter

Recent research by CBRE Scotland has pointed to a strong second quarter for Edinburgh’s office market, after a slow start to the year. Figures show a Q2 take-up of 351,916 sq ft of take-up – a 150% increase in take-up from Q1 2018, bringing office take-up in the first half of 2018 in Edinburgh to just under half a million sq ft (491,885 sq ft).

The recently announced pre-let to asset management firm Baillie Gifford taking over 60,000 sq ft at the newly developed Mint Building in St Andrew Square was possibly the stand out deal of the quarter, followed by other large lettings including 43,801 sq ft at 11-12 Lochside Place to Diageo and 14,832 sq ft at Atria One to EDP Renewables. The largest deal of the quarter was Edinburgh Palette (a workspace facility) occupying 109,153 sq ft of space at 525 Ferry Road, albeit on a short-term lease.

Metropolis is tracking around 40 occupiers searching for office space in Edinburgh. In general, tenant demand is considered to be buoyant, with a number of existing occupiers approaching lease expiries and seeking to relocate.

Meanwhile in the mid size range: The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) took 16,568 sq ft of out of town space at Bridgeside House, a Smart development at MacDonald Road, while Instant Offices, the serviced office provider, took 2,230 sq m (24,000 sq ft) of offices at the Cornerstone Building in South Gyle.

Total Edinburgh office supply remains at a low level at 923,540 sq ft, with 225,231 sq ft for city centre Grade A space. This represents a 30% decrease on the available space from the same period in 2017. The next scheme to complete is 2 Semple Street in Edinburgh city centre, which is due to be ready for occupation at the end of July 2018,  providing 38,648 sq ft of Grade A office accommodation across six floors.

CBRE say that there continues to be a number of larger, unsatisfied requirements for Edinburgh city centre.