Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow Offices

A recent report from Savills on the Scottish office market, saw lettings reach 1.4m sq ft for the first half of 2017, 20% above the five year half year average.

Savills say that the Aberdeen office market has seen increased letting activity in recent months driven by the increased oil price. Take up during the first half of 2017 reached 238,000 sq ft, exceeding the 2016 full year level. 78% of take up was accounted for by the engineering, oil and utilities sector, up from 17% last year.  Nonetheless there remains ample supply of office space in the Aberdeen market, which has fallen just 3% from end 2016 to stand at 2 million sq ft. Office schemes at the Silver Fin building and Marischal Square are both expected to complete during the second half of 2017, providing 287,000 sq ft of additional speculative offices.

Edinburgh saw the strongest quarter of take up on record during the second quarter of 2017, according to Savills, pushing the half year total to 772,000 sq ft, which was 50% above the five year first half average.
Total city centre take up at half year reached 541,000 sq ft. This was largely driven by the GPU (Government Property Unit) signing a pre-let on 180,000 sq ft of space at New Waverley. Other large scale deals included Computershare signing a pre-let for 41,000 sq ft of space to be refurbished in Four North and Burness Paull regearing on 27,000 sq ft at 50 Lothian Road. Other deals in the out of town market included Standard Life signing for 31,000 sq ft at South Gyle Broadway. Grade A available office space remains scarce in Edinburgh, with only 313,000 sq ft of space remaining,

Glasgow saw office lettings reach 434,000 sq ft across the city centre and out of town markets during the first half of 2017, in line with the five year first half average. The largest deal was the Student Loans Company’s 41,000 sq ft letting of Europa House. Despite modest take up figures for the city centre market, the out of town market saw a number of engineering companies take space, which has accounted for 25% of the wider market take up this year.With a number of large deals under offer in the city centre, such as DWP, take up in Glasgow looks set to reach Savills forecast of 600,000 sq ft for the full year.

Metropolis has published 60 business leads on Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow occupiers with requirements, looking for office space over the last six months. It is also reporting on nearly 100 office tenants that are ‘potential movers’ as they approach decisions on whether to renew leases or relocate in 2018 and 2019.

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Shorter Leases ? More Moves ?

New research from Estates Gazette suggests that office lease lengths are getting shorter and office relocations are becoming more frequent.

The research through EG Data shows that in five of the six big regional cities, average lease lengths, averaged for new and secondhand space, have fallen in the past 12 months compared with the previous 12 months.

OBI Property say: “For new larger requirements of more than 10,000 sq ft, particularly in newly built floorspace, I don’t see much evidence of a change in lease lengths – 10 years with a break at year five – but on the smaller requirements or in older stock, yes, leases are definitely getting shorter.”

EG data shows average Manchester lease lengths down to 6.8 years. Bristol average lease lengths are down from 8.1 to 7.1 years. Leeds leases are down to 5 years. Strutt & Parker/MSCI data suggests the UK average lease length for smaller office occupiers is 4.6 years, with 5.2 for larger occupiers.

Metropolis data suggests an average lease length of just over 6 years. Metropolis has noticed a growing trend of companies extending leases by 2-3 years while other options are assessed

In London, forthcoming lease expiries are set to rise from a relatively low 4.7m sq ft in 2017 to 6.7m sq ft in 2019:

London Lease Expiries (sq ft millions and number of leases due to expire)
2010 2.7 364
2011 3.8 513
2012 4.2 505
2013 5.1 521
2014 6.9 622
2015 6.1 708
2016 6 727
2017 4.3 709
2018 5.9 830
2019 6.7 893
2020 6.5 812

All occupiers with forthcoming leases are researched by Metropolis and clients are updated on tenant intentions.

Birmingham Upswing

A recent report by specialist Birmingham consultant KWB, reveals that the Birmingham city centre office market recovered in the first quarter of 2017 back to normal Q1 levels.

Office space transactions in the first quarter of 2017 totalling 139,000 sq ft – more than 30,000 sq ft over total transactions in each of the third and final quarters of 2016.  The largest deal of the quarter was by Arcadis’ signing for 22,953 sq ft at Cornerblock which is currently being refurbished, followed by iHub’s 18,378 sq ft new base in Colmore Gate. Recruitment specialist SThree Group was also the first tenant to sign 10,035 sq ft at the newly refurbished 10 Temple Street, on the 4th and 5th floors on a 10-year lease.

KWB say that the first quarter of 2017 was very much on a par with that of 2015. Looking ahead, KWB say that the rest of 2017 looks set fair, with the highest level of office development underway in Birmingham city centre for 15 years (1.4 million sq ft), a good supply of top quality Grade ‘A’ space is coming on stream and should trigger some significant office lettings in the coming months. Schemes include 55 Colmore Row
(160,000 sq ft), Corner Block (112,000 sq ft) and the Lewis Building (110,000 sq ft). The much reported HMRC requirement, which has shortlisted Three Snowhill, Arena Central and Post & Mail building, will see a letting of 200,000-300,000 sq ft and KWB also expect the HS2 halo effect to strengthen the Birmingham city centre office market.

Metropolis is currently tracking over 30 medium and large office requirements in Birmingham. Looking ahead, HS2 will have a major pull in 2017. The city has already seen Laing O’Rourke take 11,000 sq ft at 1 Victoria Square in 2016 and engineering firms and consultants are likely  to be a big sector going for office moves this year. In addition, there are nearly 40 tenants which are approaching decisions on lease or office consolidation plans over the next eighteen months.

 

Newcastle Office Market

A recent 2017 report by Knight Frank, revealed that Newcastle city centre take-up fell by 15% during 2016 reaching 220,000 sq ft.

Business Services accounted for the largest proportion of city centre take-up in 2016 at 22%. There was also a continued increase in activity in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) sector.

Out of town, total take-up reached 492,000 sq ft, with the North East has attracted an increasing number of ‘footloose’ occupiers in recent years.

Key transactions included a 35,000 sq ft letting to Convergys at The Rocket in the Stephenson Quarter. The most significant deal in the TMT sector was Zerolight’s new lease of the entire LiveWorks development on Newcastle Quayside (15,000 sq ft) only months after the building completed.

Metropolis is monitoring around 20 companies with identified or possible office searches in Newcastle.

Figures from local agent Naylors show 177,041 sq ft of out of town office space in Newcastle was let in Q1 of 2017. In contrast, only 33,461 sq ft of city centre office space was let in the same period. In Q1 2017, Frank Recruitment let 19,000 sq ft at the St Nicholas Building, while Sir Robert McAlpine is taking 8,000 sq ft in the same building.

Out of town, Quorum Business Park secured the largest letting with Sitel taking 47,000 sq ft. Other significant deals included Leeds Building Society moving their regional HQ from Silverlink to Cobalt Business Park and Parseq acquiring 20,000 sq ft at Camberwell House, Doxford Business Park.

The office market in Newcastle remains relatively quiet, with the majority of companies approaching lease events in 2017, choosing to renew current arrangements rather than search for alternative space. Future market growth is likely to mainly come from companies outside the region inward investing and expansions.

Law sector expanding outside London

A recent report by property consultant CBRE analyses trends in the legal sector of the office market outside London.

The main points of the survey are:

82% of law firms are seeing increase in fee income (70% in 2014) and 10% of regional office take-up in the last 3 years can be attributed to law firms;

The pressure of competition within the legal sector by new firms such as Riverview Law, Axiom, Obelisk and Keystone Law is leading many firms to review their property occupation, especially in the UK regions;

Recent new office openings have included Latham & Watkins and Freshfields in Manchester, Hogan Lovells in Birmingham, Belfast has attracted Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith, Eversheds and Baker & McKenzie. Legal services firm Axiom has also announced plans to double its Belfast workforce;

Bristol firms occupy the most total legal office space, Manchester has the widest representation of firms in the Top 100; Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester all have over 750,000 sq ft of office space occupied by law firms.

Recently, Manchester and Leeds have seen notably strong letting activity. Manchester saw a 100,000 sq ft deal to Slater and Gordon and 45,000 sq ft for DLA Piper. In Leeds 51,500 sq ft was taken by Addleshaw Goddard, 33,000 sq ft by Squire Patton Boggs and 24,800 sq ft by DAC Beachcroft;

Generally firms in Glasgow and Edinburgh are occupying space at a higher density than counterparts in other UK cities;

‘Nearshoring’ of back office functions from London has led to new regional offices for Trowers & Hamlins, Clyde & Co with Edinburgh based Simpson & Marwick and Slater & Gordon with Chester based Walker Smith Way;

Law firms summarise their ideal space as space which is ‘high tech, high spec, high density’. The survey concludes that law firms are seeking more ‘light, bright, technologically enabled, open plan, collaborative and modern workspace’. Law firms are developing an approach to real estate which aligns it with technology and their approach to workplace design;

Metropolis is currently monitoring 40 law firm office identified requirements outside London, with a further 40 at an earlier stage.

Cardiff on the Rise & Merry Christmas

A recent report from property consultant Savills highlighted the upsurge in office demand in Cardiff and forecast that rents would reach £25 per sq ft in 2016.

The report concluded that total take-up at the end of Q3 stood at nearly 300,000 sq ft (27,860 sq m) and with the last two months registering significant prelets, including the 150,000 sq ft letting at Central Square to the BBC and Public Health Wales pre-letting 4,645 sq m (50,000 sq ft) of new offices on four floors at the under construction 2 Cathedral Quarter; the annual take-up total will reach 600,000 sq ft a 10% increase on 2014 and 20% up on the ten year average.

Earlier in the year, Cardiff saw major moves from Baccalaureate Organisation taking 48,500 sq ft and SSE taking 46,851
at Cardiff Gate Business Park.

Savills predict that One Central Square and 2 Capital Quarter buildings, could be fully let by early 2016. Therefore the main schemes in the pipeline are refurbishments including 50,900sq ft at St Patricks House, 35,000 sq ft at 2 Kingsway and 16,953 sq ft at Haywood House North on Dumfries Place,.

Metropolis is tracking over a dozen medium or large companies searching for office space in Cardiff.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Metropolis blog readers from all the staff at Metropolis.

Occupiers go footloose

A recent market bulletin by property consultant JLL mentioned the trend for London office occupiers to move across the central area in the search for the right office space.

Research by Metropolis for its April 2014 London fit-out report bears out the point. Amongst the large grade A lettings completed in the last 12 months, some 25% of them involved companies taking space in different London districts to the one they are currently located in.

Examples include: Capita moving from the West End to 104,000 sq ft at 10 Aldermanbury in EC2; Hachette moving to 135,000 sq ft in EC4 from Euston; Ramboll moving to 30,000 sq ft at 240 Blackfriars Road in SE1; Google moving from Victoria to 730,000 sq ft at Kings Cross; EY and Shell moving from Southbank to Docklands. There are many more smaller examples among last year’s 12m sq ft of office deals in central London.

A review of the current near 700 outstanding requirements for office space in London suggests only 60% of occupiers are looking in only their existing office district, or adjoining areas, with as much as 40% of London tenants prepared to consider anywhere in the central area.

Conversations with tenants suggest that the quality of the office space has become more important than micro location, when considering London office moves. In addition, there have been relatively few new office schemes completed in the West End in recent years which, in combination with high rents, has pushed tenants towards other areas.

Looking ahead, recent deals in Q1 2014 suggest the process is speeding up with lettings at The Shard in SE1, Pancras Square in Kings Cross and a raft of deals in Canary Wharf, E14 showing a movement to good quality space in what could be considered slightly fringe areas. We expect this trend to continue through 2014 and 2015 based on the footloose searches by London tenants currently out looking.