Central London Lettings – August 2017

Central London office lettings in August 2017 reached an exceptional 1.57m sq ft of deals from 58 mid-large size transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the month. The August figure exceeds the current monthly average of just under 1m sq ft .

August was characterised by 13 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which included Deutsche Bank’s 470,000 sq ft pre-let at 21 Moorfields, EC2: WeWork’s two pre-lets at The Stage, EC2 and the nearby ‘Shoreditch Exchange’; Kings College London took 73,000 sq ft at Roman Wall House, EC3, and Atos took 42,000 sq ft at Mid City Place, WC1.

Financial services topped the table of lettings by sector, underpinned by the Deutsche Bank deal. This was followed by business services with large deals involvingWeWork. IT services also performed well, helped by the lettings to OpenText and Kobalt. Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London held steady at 3.5m sq ft and pending deal volumes are healthy in nearly all sub-markets.

By area, the City accounted for 68pc of the office floorspace let in August at 1,066,000 sq ft. The West End saw 233,000 sq ft of take-up. Midtown contributed 145,000 sq ft of lettings. Current London office demand is calculated to be around 3.3m sq ft in the City and 2.9m sq ft in the West End.

The volume of grade A (newly built or refurbished office space) let during the month reached 1.2m sq ft (77% of the monthly total), as transactions for new space resumed their recent strong showing.

Metropolis research is currently monitoring 600 London requirements, with deals for space of up to 2.5m sq ft due to sign in the next few months.

Cityoffices and Metropolis are working on an autumn 2017 update to their twice yearly London Skyline report. The update will contain details of dozens of new office schemes under construction, planning applications and consents, with scheme by scheme detail on the Cityoffices.net website. Details on Cityoffices from Andy King at andy@metroinfo.co.uk

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Office Relocations Planned in August

Metropolis ran 645 business leads on ‘office movers’ in the month of August 2017. If all reported moves were added together the total would exceed 17 million sq ft of office searches and transactions, researched by Metropolis’ unique market led intelligence research team. London was the largest region with 284 leads during month, but there were also strong showings from the South East (62), North West (62), Yorkshire (49) and Scotland (42). IT services, professional and financial were the largest business sectors planning relocations or agreeing moves during the month.

The business leads covered the whole UK and provided details of the size of the office occupier, its likely move dates, a description of the reasons for the move, its business sector and full contact details including an address for written inquiries, at least one telephone number and in most cases an email address. Some of the largest planned moves and top picks amongst the 580 July leads, included those on Deutsche Bank, EBRD, Medicines and Healthcare Agency and TK Maxx.

The August 2017 leads included 214 ‘identified requirements’. Which means that the company confirmed to researchers that it has current or future plans to search for alternative office space. Of these 214 searches, 130 were new office searches, not previously notified to clients.

The most recent research also included 161 ‘potential movers’ which were mainly longer-term leads on occupiers, considering a relocation, but have yet to make a final decision on whether to search.

Most of the remaining stories covered companies that have signed for new office space and have set a move date, including some large pre-lets and companies inviting tenders for fit-out contracts. The shortest planned move date is just over a month away, whilst the longest was late 2020.

If you would like some information on flexible Metropolis subscription packages, then please email Simon at simon@metroinfo.co.uk

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Cityoffices.net, the sister property leads service to Metropolis, saw a further 25 stories posted in August, covering new development opportunities planning applications, consents, construction starts and development teams in London and major cities. The database now covers over 200 office schemes in the pipeline for construction starts in 2017-2020.

For more information on Cityoffices, email Andy at andy@metroinfo.co.uk

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.

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.

Office Moves Planned in July

Metropolis ran 580 business leads on ‘office movers’ in the month of July 2017. If all reported moves were added together the total would exceed 16 million sq ft of office searches and transactions, researched by Metropolis’ unique market led intelligence research team. London was the largest region with 247 leads during month, but there were also strong showings from the South East (63) and North West (62), Scotland (44). IT services and financial were the two largest business sectors planning relocations or agreeing moves during the month.

The business leads covered the whole UK and provided details of the size of the office occupier, its likely move dates, a description of the reasons for the move, its business sector and full contact details including an address for written inquiries, at least one telephone number and in most cases an email address. Some of the largest planned moves and top picks amongst the 580 July leads. included those on Citi (Citigroup), HMRC, Credit Agricole and WeWork.

The July 2017 leads included 200 ‘identified requirements’. Which means that the company confirmed to researchers that it has current or future plans to search for alternative office space. Of these 200 searches, 134 were new office searches, not previously notified to clients.

The most recent research also included 130 ‘potential movers’ which were mainly longer-term leads on occupiers, considering a relocation, but have yet to make a final decision on whether to search.

Most of the remaining stories covered companies that have signed for new office space and have set a move date, including some large pre-lets and companies inviting tenders for fit-out contracts. The shortest planned move date is just over a month away, whilst the longest was late 2020.

If you would like some information on flexible Metropolis subscription packages, then please email Simon at simon@metroinfo.co.uk

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Cityoffices.net, the sister property leads service to Metropolis, saw a further 33 stories posted in July, covering new development opportunities planning applications, consents, construction starts and development teams in London and major cities. The database now covers over 200 office schemes in the pipeline for construction starts in 2017-2020.

For more information on Cityoffices, email Andy at andy@metroinfo.co.uk

Manchester’s Top Future Relocations

Lambert Smith Hampton has just released its Manchester office market report for Q2 2017. City centre office take-up for reached 284,497 sq ft across 68 transactions, a 23.3% increase on the same quarter in 2016. The cumulative 492,730 sq ft for the first half of 2017 is an increase of 14.6% on 2016.

The latest big relocations, movers and inward investments included: co-working giant We Work taking 55,802 sq ft offices at No.1 Spinningfields. Weightmans took 17,949 sq ft at the same building. EY is taking 40,000 sq ft at 2 St Peters Square; Car Finance 247 is relocating to 40,000 sq ft at Universal Building, Devonshire Street North; Distrelec is taking 17,000 sq ft at 2 St Peter’s Square, while Vodafone signed for 33,000 sq ft at Atlantic House.  Lookers acquired the 21,000 sq ft Aspect House in Altrincham,  21,200 sq ft was let at Regent Place, Salford to Convergys and Kaplan Financial also agreed a 10,000 sq ft move. Deals under 3,000 sq ft still accounted for 40% of take up

LSH secured the largest office deal this year outside of the city centre by acquiring 47,149 sq ft at 106 Dalton Avenue at Patrizia UK’s Birchwood Park, Warrington for Cavendish Nuclear. Business Services, consumer services and leisure and banking and finance have been the strongest sectors for take-up in the first half of the year. These three sectors accounted for 34%, 20% and 18% of take-up respectively

Metropolis is monitoring around 50 current office requirements in Manchester and around 60 ‘potential movers’, that is companies approaching lease expiries or with expansion plans, which have not decided whether to move yet.

Looking ahead, Manchester is expected to see faster office based employment growth over the next five years than Greater London and all of the major UK regional cities. Office based employment is
expected to grow by 6% over the next five years, significantly above the UK average of 3.5%.

Thames Valley gives mixed signals

A new report from Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) on the Thames Valley office market reveals a mixture of trends.  LSH report 126 enquiries (over 5,000 sq ft) in Q1 2017, an increase of 31% compared with the 96 received in the previous quarter, however these are mainly made up of smaller enquiries and LSH say that requirements for units of over 30,000 sq ft are running well below the long term average.

Take-up in Q1 2017 was 425,352 sq ft, a fall of 3 % from the 439,331 sq ft transacted in the previous quarter and 18.6% below Q1 2016’s total of 522,770 sq ft. The total is below the five-year average take-up of 482,169 sq ft and given the drop in large enquiries, take-up may suffer in upcoming quarters. Large deals included: MediaWorks, White City – 70,000 sq ft acquired by Net-a-Porter and Tor, Maidenhead – 40,000 sq ft letting to Rank Group.  Moves underway include Body Shop, Maersk, Macquarie Bank and EDF Energy.

The active sectors in Q1 2017 were professional (31%), technology, media and communications (25%) and pharmaceuticals (14%).  LSH say that 74% of all office take up in Q1 2017 was centred on just five of the 14 centres – Blackwater Valley, Bracknell, Maidenhead, Oxford and Reading. Reading continues to attract some big names and it’s key Business Parks are home to some of the world’s largest high-tech firms including Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Symantec, Logica CMG, Huawei, Veritas and more recently, major corporates such as Bayer and Thales.
Metropolis has published 260 stories about the relocation plans of 260 Thames Valley and South East companies in the last three months; including 75 companies searching for office space. In addition, it has reported on the plans of a further 60 companies that are approaching lease decisions.
The outlook for the Thames Valley seems to be for a slightly muted summer 2017, but with the recent rating revaluation and the nearing of the completion of the Elizabeth line, the near-term will see more occupiers relocating further out of Central London along the Thames Valley from early 2018.