The Magnificent Seven

A recent report from Savills reveals that for a fourth consecutive year, UK regional city office take-up has surpassed the long term average of 9.1m sq ft. Total take-up in 2016 reached an impressive
9.6m sq ft, despite a year of political uncertainty.

The final quarter of regional office take-up in 2017 reached 2.4m sq ft, the strongest quarter since Q2 2015. Roughly the same level of occupational demand was recorded during the first half and second half
of the 2016, with no post referendum slowdown evident.

The most active of the seven major UK cities in 2016 were Bristol and Cardiff, which recorded take-up improvements of 42% and 10% on 2015’s levels respectively, with Cardiff achieving its highest level of take-up in 15 years. A key driver of occupational demand in these cities was the Government Property Unit (GPU) requirements for consolidating public sector bases into regional hubs. Savills expect the GPU to be the key contributor to acquisitions over 100,000 sq ft in 2017 in cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and Belfast, during 2017.

The most active business sectors during 2016 were the insurance and financial services sector, accounting for 1.2 million sq ft (15%) of space taken, which marked a record year. Key deals include: Swinton
Insurance taking 165,000 sq ft at 101 Embankment, Manchester, whilst MotoNovo Finance took 72,000 sq ft at One Central Square, Cardiff.
The tech sector remained an important contributor to take-up during 2016 and accounted for 20% of the number of transactions. This sector has traditionally contributed to the smaller end of the market, but also included Co-op Digital acquiring 45,000 sq ft of accommodation in Manchester, while Micro-chip designer, Cirrus Logic’s 70,000 sq ft letting at Quartermile, Edinburgh marked the largest regional tech deal last year. Edinburgh witnessed the highest proportion of tech take-up of all the UK cities.

Metropolis ran 53 medium and large office requirements for Birmingham in 2016, totalling 1.4m sq ft; the totals for other cities were Bristol 66 requirements and 1.6m sq ft; Cardiff 35 requirements and 1.1m sq ft; Edinburgh 65 requirements and 1.5m sq ft; Glasgow 51 requirements and 1.4m sq ft; Leeds 74 requirements and 2m sq ft; Manchester 90 requirements and 2.5m sq ft.
A shortage of Grade A floorspace in city centres,  prompted occupiers to look out of town as total fringe/out of town take-up reaching 2.8 million sq ft, eclipsing the record level set during 2014. Occupiers were also attracted out of town offices due to availability of larger floorplate stock and cheaper rents, particularly in the Manchester and Glasgow markets. Glasgow was boosted by the University of the West of Scotland’s 225,000 sq ft pre-let of the Eco Campus.

Overall, 44% of the 3.6m sq ft of regional office space currently under construction across the UK regions has been pre-let. Examples include PwC’s part pre-let of One Chamberlain Square in Birmingham
There are 8 million sq ft of known lease expiries over the next five years, there also remains underlying demand for new space, with the likely strongest performers for 2017 predicted to be Leeds, Cardiff and Bristol. There is a shortage of Grade A space, particularly in Bristol and Manchester. Top regional rents remain low relative to Central London.

The Metropolis view is that demand is holding up well in regional cities with 130 new requirements added to the database for the seven largest cities outside London in Q1 2017.

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Metropolis 2014 Lead Research Review

1,000 new office requirements

The Metropolis research team produced a total of 6,154 relocation, construction and refurbishment leads in 2014. Over 26% of these were active UK office space requirements, in line with 2013 and 2012 research results. 1,613 office requirements were confirmed in total, with 1,000 new office requirements uncovered by our research. New office requirements accounted for 22.5m sq ft of UK office demand.

60% of Metropolis leads were projects located in the South of the UK (61% in 2013, 63% in 2012, 61% in 2011, 2010 and 62% in 2009), with 40% of lead projects located in Wales, the Midlands, North, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Greater London projects represented 48% of the 2014 lead total, 3% above the 2013 proportion.

 

Leads by region

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Greater London, Metropolis identified just over 18m sq ft of new requirements for offices, with over 800 companies looking for new space. Just over 14m sq ft of this demand was for central London space. 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).

Office relocation and refurbishment activity continues to be strong in the North West of the UK. Metropolis identified 1.2m sq ft of new office demand in the region, 61% of which was demand for Manchester space. The largest requirements emerged from banking and IT companies.

In the South East (excluding London), the largest office relocation and refurbishment projects were located in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. Demand for new office space in the South East reached 2.4m sq ft and 39% of this demand was for offices in Berkshire.

Leads numbers in Scotland were 28% down on 2013’s record result (120% up on 2012), however the region is still the UK’s 4th most active according to our research. Metropolis identified 800,000 sq ft of new office demand in Scotland as a whole in 2014, 50% of which was centered on Edinburgh.

In Yorkshire and Humberside, just under 700,000 sq ft of new office requirements were identified, with 71 companies looking for new space. Demand for new space in Leeds accounted for just over 500,000 sq ft.

West Midlands lead numbers were largely on par with results over the past three years. Just under 0.5m sq ft of new demand was identified in Birmingham.

In the South West, just under 700,000 sq ft of new office demand was identified. Bristol was the preferred location for large government, education, energy and insurance company moves. Office take-up in Bristol last year reached 1.2m sq ft.

Lead numbers in the North jumped by 22%, the highest number of relocation, refurbishment, and construction projects recorded in that region since 2011. 23% of office demand in the region centered on Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

 

 

ludgate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UK Lead Projects by Size

55% of Metropolis leads in 2014 reported on projects over 10,000 sq ft. 46% of leads were made up of projects between 5,000 sq ft and 30,000 sq ft. 74% of leads covered projects over 5,000 sq ft. The increase in lead projects between 1 and 2,000 sq ft was influenced by a significant number of central London office, residential and hotel redevelopment schemes unseating existing tenants.

 

leads by project size

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Business Sectors – UK Relocation and Refurbishment Projects

The Banking & Finance Sector leapt ahead of Technology & Telecoms in 2014 and was the strongest UK business sector in terms of relocation and refurbishment projects. Lead numbers within this sector grew by 7% when compared to 2013, the strongest showing in the last five years. The largest requirements in this sector were unsurprisingly targeted at London space. Four of the top five office requirements were searches by Banks in the City of London. Banks & Financial service companies also had 50,000 sq ft + requirements for office space in Birmingham, Manchester, Southampton and Bristol.

 

top ten business sectors

 

 

 

 

Newly identified demand for office space from Technology and Telecoms companies in the UK hit 2.1m sq ft last year. Requirements for space in London accounted for 50% of this figure. The largest searches for offices outside of London targeted Slough, Glasgow, Warrington, Manchester and Oxford. Office demand from media sector companies, often grouped with Technology and Telecoms under the banner “TMT”, reached 1.5m sq ft. London, particularly SW1 and WC2, was the overwhelmingly preferred location for this sector.

The top ten law firm office relocation projects by size were all located in central London, predominantly the City, particularly London EC4 and EC2. However there were two 70,000 sq ft + requirements for space from this sector in Leeds and a 100,000 sq ft requirement in Manchester.

The industry consensus is that London and the south east outpaced the rest of the UK in 2014 as they are further ahead in the cycle, but the predictions are that the regions will begin to pick up in 2015. This is likely to drive an increase in speculative developments and a rise in rents, which will in turn lead to more demand for offices in regional cities. In London, availability will fall again leading to more development and more relocations to fringe central London locations.

Copyright Metropolis Property Research Ltd, January 2015