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.

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.

Spring Step for South East Offices

A recent report from Colliers International concluded that office lettings in Q1 2017 in the South East reached 741,295 sq ft, which is down around 5% on a year ago

The largest deals in the first quarter were to ASOS at Leavesdon Park, Watford (75,000 sq ft), Rank in Maidenhead (40,000 sq ft) and Allegis in Bracknell (31,000 sq ft). Macquarie Bank recently moved some office functions from their City HQ to Reading taking 12,500 sq ft.

Some 51% of take-up this quarter was for office space between 20,000 sq ft – 50,000 sq ft, which came in 12 deals.

Watford witnessed strong take up this quarter (105,000 sq ft), including ASOS at Leavesdon Park and Salmon Ltd who took a 30,000 sq ft pre-let at Clarendon Works.

Demand for space across the south east remains high according to Strutt & Parker, currently standing at 4.6m sq ft – of which 10% (462,000 sq ft) is under offer.

Metropolis added nearly 50 new searches for office space in the South East region to its live database in Q1 2017. Sectors with most occupiers newly searching include law, insurance pharmaceutical and a number of IT-related companies.

There continues to be strong occupier demand for best quality office space across the entire region say Colliers. However, supply of new office space is down 7% on Q4 2016 and the availability of vacant offices is down to half the 2010 level. There are relatively few schemes coming to the market over the next two years in both the Thames Valley and the wider South East.

Q1 2017 saw new record office rents set in Hammersmith (£59.00 per sq ft), Maidenhead (£38.00 per sq ft), Reading (£36.50 per sq ft), Watford (£31.50 per sq ft) Redhill (£31.50 per sq ft) and Slough (£28.50 per sq ft).

Metropolis Research in Feb and Mar 2017

Metropolis ran an average of 635 ‘movers’ in the months of February and March 2017, some 1,271 in total. If all moves were added together the total would exceed 5.5 million sq ft of office transactions, researched by Metropolis’ unique market led intelligence team. London was the largest region with an average of 280 leads each month, but there were also strong showings from the South East, Scotland and Yorkshire. Financial services and TMT (technology and media) were the two largest business sectors planning relocations.

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 amongst the 635 leads included leads on Apple, Deutsche Bank, Michelin and Goldman Sachs.

The February and March 2017 leads included 361 ‘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 361 searches, 238 were new office searches, not previously notified.

The most recent research also included 380 ‘potential movers’ which were mainly longer-term leads on occupiers which are 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 mid 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 50 stories posted in February and March covering new development opportunities planning applications, consents, construction starts and development teams. 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

Metropolis Law Report Launch

Metropolis is launching its Law Sector Office Activity in London and the UK 2017, today, for clients only.

The report covers Metropolis research on over 430 law firm deals, leases and requirements for London and UK office space researched over the last 12 months.

Key findings include:

Across the UK, there are currently 190,000 sq m (2.1m sq ft) of office requirements from 120 law firms;

There are requirements for over a million sq ft of alternative London office space by over 50 medium and large London law firms.

Outside London, law firm requirements reached 76 searches totalling 105,000 sq m (1.13m sq ft).

The report covers law firms with upcoming searches, those approaching lease expiries over the next two years and recently agreed deals, including a large number of named examples. The report also looks at factors triggering law firm moves and the outlook for the future, based on expansions, mergers and property costs.

See more at http://metropolisleads.uk/

For further details on becoming a Metropolis subscriber email Simon at simon@metroinfo.co.uk

Top Ten market moves in Newcastle

A recent report on the Newcastle office market by GVA Bilfinger highlighted some of the major market movers and skakers.

1. Q1 take-up reached nearly 150,000 sq ft in Newcastle, with Sitel taking 48,000 sq ft at Quorum Business Park;

2. Accenture, the management consultant, took 15,000 sq ft of extra space at Cobalt Business Park;

3. EY (Ernst & Young) recently took 22,900 sq ft at One City Gate East, while Ubisoft took 17,000 sq ft at Haymarket Hub;

4. Litterboss is taking 12,100 sq ft at Digital House in the Team Valley;

5. Shepherd Offshore, the offshore logistics firm, has submitted plans to develop a £4m two-storey head office at the Walker Offshore Technology Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne;

6. Newcastle University is to build the £30m National Institute for Smart Data Innovation (NISDI) at the new Science Central site in Bath Lane, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

7. Accord Healthcare is to set up a pharmaceutical plant at the former Sanofi site in Newcastle-upon-Tyne;

8. The recently completed 35,000 sq ft Stephenson Quarter Rocket scheme is rumoured to be under offer;

9. Commercial Estates Group is revamping 60,000 sq ft at Cuthbert House, while Schroders is refurbishing 10,000 sq ft at Earl Grey House;

10. The former Eversheds’ space at Central Square South will add some 50,000 sq ft to Grade A space in the city;

Metropolis continues to monitor a number of companies looking for office space in the city.

The Forgotten Market?

With London and the main regional cities grabbing most of the headlines, it is often forgotten that the UK’s business parks also account for a large slice of office relocation activity.

GVA Bilfinger’s 2015 Business Park Review highlights that a total of 2.3 million sq ft of take-up was recorded on UK business parks during the first half of 2015. This infers that in a full year, as much as 5m sq ft of office deals are concluded, which would make business parks as important an office market as the City of London.

Research by Metropolis indicates nearly 200 business park office moves or requirements planned for 2016, with a further 60 lined up for 2017.

In the Midlands 460,000 sq ft of 2015 transactions included significant lettings at Birmingham Business Park to VM Housing for 27,100 sq ft and Changan Automotive for 24,800 sq ft. Worldwide Clinical Trials, the pharmaceutical research company, signed for 26,000 sq ft at Beeston Business Park.

In the North East, over 470,000 sq ft of deals included: Andrew James International taking 72,000 sq ft at Lighthouse View Business Park . At nearby Spectrum Business Park, Great Annual Savings Company Limited took 13,279 sq ft and Durham Housing group took 13,953 sq ft.

In the North West, AMEC took 27,247 sq ft at Washington House at Birchwood Park and Swiss agricultural business Syngenta is taking 33,000 sq ft at The Towers, Didsbury.

In Scotland, Amey Utility and Black & Veatch took space at Buchanan Gate Business Park at Strathclyde Business Park, while Advance Construction purchased Radstock House, taking 18,000 sq ft.

In the South West, NGA Human Resources and Aqualogy both took 10,000 sq ft at Aztec West Business Park in Bristol; Sword Apak, took 20,000 sq ft at Nibley Court on Westerleigh Business Park in Yate and EE and Northgate took further space at Aztec West.

In the South East a key deal was the 100,000 sq ft letting of the Leonardo building at Manor Royal Business Park to Virgin Atlantic Holdings. Sita UK took 29,100 sq ft at CSC’s Royal Pavilion, Aldershot; BTG took 15,993 sq ft at Lakeview on SEGRO’s Watchmoor Park, Camberley. Meanwhile, Gilead took 97,000 sq ft at 2 Roundwood Avenue, Stockley Park, and 10,700 sq ft went to Alexion Pharma at 3 Furzeground Way, Stockley Park.

Business park construction activity is around 1.7m sq ft. However completions during early 2015 amounted to 730,000 sq ft, which is the highest level since December 2009. Current projects include the 140,000 sq ft refurbishment of The Bower, 4 Roundwood Avenue, Stockley Park; 36,400 sq ft at Walnut Tree Park in Guildford and at Farnborough Business Park, 108,200 sq ft of speculative office space is nearing completion.

Metropolis is currently monitoring 208 companies with requirements to relocate to or from office space on UK business parks, from mid 2016 onwards.