Birmingham Offices Looking Ahead

Birmingham office market during 2018 saw 754,000 sq ft of office space transacted in 113 letting deals. This was a little down on the 1m sq ft of take-up in 2017 which included a 240,000 sq ft Government letting at Arena Central, but up on the 693,000 sq ft of office moves agreed in 2016.

Major lettings during 2018 included: WSP taking 46,000 sq ft at The Mailbox, BE Group taking 38,000 sq ft at Somerset House, Zurich Insurance taking 23,000 sq ft at Colmore Square and General Dental Council agreeing to move to 22,000 sq ft at 1 Colmore Square.

Metropolis ran 80 leads on Birmingham office moves during 2018, with 25 searches for office space ongoing.

A recent report by Knight Frank highlights notable expansions such as Hogan Lovells have quadrupling the size of its Birmingham office, taking 23,000 sq ft at The Colmore Building. The law firm is taking advantage of the cost benefits such as lower wages and property costs in the city.

Over the last 18 months Birmingham has witnessed an upsurge in flexible office provision. More than 20% of Birmingham transactions (approx 313,000 sq. ft.) have been divided between various flexible models such as co-working, traditional managed centres, and operators who are providing a fixed term, fully serviced office, to identified occupiers. Instant Offices (3 buildings), Spaces (2 buildings) and MSO have been notably active, acquiring a number of locations.

Knight Frank say take-up of Grade A accommodation repeatedly accounts for over 50% of total activity within central Birmingham. High quality space deals are driven in part by the occupiers’ seeking to raise the profile of their business and enhance their staff recruitment potential. The wellbeing of staff and the workplace is shaping occupier decision-making. Access green walls, health and leisure facilities and high quality on-site catering is becoming as important.

Looking ahead, Knight Frank confirm a number of potential lettings are currently in advance talks at city centre office buildings including The Lewis Building, One Colmore Square, The Colmore Building and Baskerville House as well as some pre-let discussions. Metropolis lists a number of the occupiers interested in these schemes.

At developments under construction, including 103 Colmore Row, 3 Snowhill and 2 Chamberlain Square at Paradise, there is a significant level of advanced pre-let discussions with occupiers

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London Office Market in 2018

Central London office lettings in 2018 reached just over 12.3m sq ft from 554 mid-large size office transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the year. The 2018 figure matched the 2017 London take-up total, but with slightly fewer deals.

2018 was characterised by 167 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which were led by two large deals Facebook in Kings Cross and The Chinese Embassy at the Royal Mint; followed by a clutch of smaller, mainly pre-let deals to Sumitomo, WPP, Sidley Austin and WeWork.

IT and business services topped the table of lettings by sector, compiled by Metropolis, underpinned by the Facebook deal and the large number of lettings to serviced office operators. This was followed by financial services led by lettings to Sumitomo, BGC and TP Icap. Insurance, professional and media were also well represented. Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London remained at 3.1m 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 43pc of the office floorspace let in 2018 at 5.3m sq ft. The West End saw 2.5m sq ft of take-up. Midtown contributed 2.4m sq ft of lettings and Docklands 900,000 sq ft. 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 year, reached a healthy 6.5m sq ft sq ft (53% of the yearly total), as transactions for new space continued their recent strong showing. Availability is dominated by secondhand space in all London markets.

Metropolis research is currently monitoring 645 ‘live’ London office requirements, with pending deals for space of up to 1.4m sq ft due to sign in the next few months.

Details on Metropolis database from Paul Ives at paul@metroinfo.co.uk

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

Banking and the Office Market

CBRE has just published its report: “Why We Can Bank on London 2018” which looks at subsectors within London’s financial services ‘ecosystem’: investment and retail banks, fintech firms, traditional asset managers and private equity firms and hedge funds. The intentions of occupiers in these sectors make up a large part of the Metropolis weekly office leads output.

The financial sector accounted for 27% of active space requirements by sq ft in autumn 2018

CBRE say Since the EU referendum, banks have continued to commit to London with Deutsche Bank taking 550,000 sq ft and SMBC taking 161,000 sq ft, while Wells Fargo took 220,000 sq ft for its new European
headquarters. However, banks have also been ‘nearshoring’ (moving staff to regional hubs in the UK) with Bank of America, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank all announcing plans in late 2012 to move 3,000 jobs away from London.

The UK has been ranked first globally for the strongest fintech sector since 2016. It’s largest companies include Funding Circle, a peer-to-peer financing platform for companies and mobile banking service Revolut is achieving ‘unicorn’ status in April 2018 on reaching a valuation of $1.7bn (both companies’ intentions recently featured on Metropolis).  Fast growing Nutmeg is the first firm to offer an online discretionary investment management service in the UK. Fintech firms are dispersed but have tended to cluster in areas such as Canary Wharf and the City, where initiatives such as Level39 provide provide space. The typical lifecycle of a fintech firm begins in low-cost flexible space, usually in fringe locations. Typically, the firm then moves to a larger and more corporate space as it matures. Metropolis has run nearly 40 leads on fintech companies recently.

Private equity and hedge funds. London is the second largest centre globally for hedge fund managers  Over the past 10 years, firms other than banks or traditional asset managers have accounted for 61% of the sector’s total take-up of 27m sq ft in Central London. There are currently over 200,000 sq ft of office requirements live in this sector in central London. Metropolis has brought subscribers over 30 stories about hedge fund companies office move intentions in recent months.

CBRE conclude by forecasting the rise of agile working becoming more widely adopted in the banking sector, increasingly shifting towards more open plan offices and policies such as working from home. Firms are also increasingly considering an area’s wealth of amenities and transport links. For private equity firms in particular this could become a growing trend as they move away from prestige locations such as Knightsbridge and Mayfair to better connected locations.

Metropolis has run over 500 leads on London-based financial sector occupiers relocation intentions in 2018.

Merry Christmas to all Metropolis blog readers.

Paul Ives, Metropolis Head of Research. December 2018

The Evolution of Office Space

A recent blog from property consultant Savills, looked at the trends for the future of office space and some of the implications for market players. Savills say that the sector has progressed beyond putting a roof over workers’ heads, instead landlords and service providers need to be tuned to meet the needs of modern occupiers in order to attract businesses in an increasingly competitive landscape.

The relationships between landlords, tenants and staff has shifted. Building owners can no longer rely on the fact that they have four walls and a plug socket; but instead have to offer a best-in-class service if they want to entice occupiers to let their space. In turn businesses must provide their employees with a stand-out working environment if they want to both attract and retain the best staff.

So what are the emerging trends

Savills’ last What Workers Want survey showed that the workplace can have a significant impact on employees’ physical and mental health. Some of the measures that have caught the headlines have included running tracks on roofs, yoga studios and health-conscious canteens, but this is just the start. Savills predict more on-site GPs, crèche facilities and lockers for online retail deliveries to maximise employees time and productivity.

As well as the emphasis on wellness, there is also a need for greater sustainability and the impact that space might have on the wider environment. For this reason recycling, waste and energy consumption has never been so important. Metropolis finds increasing numbers of occupiers require office space with high levels of BREEAM standards as well as flexibility.

Metropolis has seen a high level of short leases negotiated in recent years alongside a trend for a floor by floor expansion by occupiers within an existing part-occupied building. In addition, refurbishment tenders incorperate a high level of IT utilisation and are now increasingly including flexibility to provide step free access.

Savills say that ultimately, landlords need to take the lead from the serviced office sector which is constantly adapting to create fresh ways of working to meet occupiers’ changing needs.

 

Central London office lettings in October 2018

Central London office lettings in October 2018 reached just over 1.3m sq ft from 55 mid-large size office transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the month. The October 2018 figure exceeds the current monthly London average of 1m sq ft.

October was characterised by 19 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which were led by the McCann World Group’s 135,000 sq ft pre-let at 135 Bishopsgate, EC2 along with TP ICAP; BGC Partners signed for 129,000 sq ft at 5 Churchill Place, E14; Axa IM took a 65,000 sq ft pre-let at 22 Bishopsgate, EC3 and DAC Beachcroft took 50,000 sq ft at Walbrook Building, EC4.

Financial services topped the table of lettings by sector, compiled by Metropolis, underpinned by the TP ICAP and BGC Partners deals. This was followed by media led by lettings to McCann and TNS. Insurance, professional and business services were also well represented. Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London remained at 3.8m 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 58pc of the office floorspace let in October 2018 at 750,000 sq ft. The West End saw 140,000 sq ft of take-up. Midtown contributed 100,000 sq ft of lettings and Docklands 130,000 sq ft. 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 a healthy 555,000 sq ft sq ft (43% 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 630 ‘live’ London requirements, with deals for space of up to 1.6m sq ft due to sign in the next few months.

Cityoffices is close to completing 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

Law Sector and the Office Market Update

Knight Frank, the property consultant, has just published an update on trends in the law sector over 2017-18 which impact on the UK office market. Some of the main points include:

Consolidator firms such as Gordon Dadds, Redkite Solicitors, Knights and Metamorph Law are acquiring smaller rivals to gain market share. Consolidation activity is driving occupier demand in certain markets as merged firms looked to consolidate into single offices;

Some mid-tier law firms are aggressively expanding, in particular those that have focussed on niche services. One such firm that is forging ahead is Weightmans which has invested £1.3million on new technology over the last year. Another leading mid-tier firm is Fieldfisher who recorded a second consecutive year of double-digit growth that included moving into a single site in London;

New market players are expanding in regional markets. These included Leeds-based Alpaca, who launched in 2017, and Rradar, who relocated to larger office space at the Bruntwood Platform building in Leeds having undergone rapid growth;

Meanwhile, Norton Rose Fulbright revealed plans to create 100 new jobs in its legal process hub in Newcastle, Simmons & Simmons taking larger offices in Bristol, Walker Morris will relocate to 33 Wellington Street, Leeds, Reed Smith opening in Leeds, Graysons moved into larger, more modern premises in Sheffield, Pinsent Masons consolidated their two offices into 141 Bothwell Street in Glasgow, while Hogan Lovells tripled its space in Birmingham;

Manchester recorded the highest legal services sector takeup by square footage across all the UK regional cities at 155,328 sq ft or 13% of total take-up last year. This was followed by Bristol where legal services accounted for 9.4% of total take-up

Knight Frank conclude that changing business structures will demand a resetting of the corporate footprint with most relocating to higher quality office space in core CBD locations.

Metropolis is tracking over 100 law firms with either identified requirements or potential requirements for relocation from October 2018 onwards.