Rise of the pre-let

Recent research by Metropolis revealed that a total of 133 occupiers were involved in pre-let searches or deals during 2018. These included a wide variety of moves across the whole of the UK. In London, a record breaking 39 pre-let deals were signed during 2018 totalling 3.8m sq ft, ahead of the previously record-breaking 2.74 million sq ft of pre-lets agreed in 2013.

Reasons given by occupiers for the risingof pre-lets are varied, but include upcoming lease events, continued limited new developments coming on the market and faith in London. It is clear that tech and media firms are making significant long-term commitments to new buildings, alongside traditional City occupiers, including those in the insurance and financial sectors. 2018 was the year that global brands made big commitments, including the likes of real estate-savvy Facebook and Sony both committing to new European headquarters in the West End and King’s Cross.

Metropolis has identified up to 50 named occupiers, which have on-going London searches, which could sign pre-lets on under construction, new or newly refurbished office space in 2019.

Recent research by Cushman & Wakefield indicated that over the last ten years there has been a total of 24.4 million sq ft of office space let pre-let transactions completed. On average, there were 27
pre-lets each year over this period, with the peak being 2013 and 2014. Pre-letting is more common in the City, Docklands and City fringe, than in the West End.

Large pre-lets from TMT (tech, media and telecom) companies in recent years including Apple’s acquisition at Battersea Power Station (475,000 sq ft), Dentsu Aegis Network’s 312,000 sq ft deal at 1 Triton Square, Linkedin in Farringdon and Facebook’s recent commitment at King’s Cross (600,000 sq ft). Banking & financial occupiers were the next most active sector, accounting for 31% of total pre-let volumes over the last ten years, including Deutsche Bank’s future relocation into 21 Moorfields (469,000 sq ft), SMBC’s acquisition at 100 Liverpool Street (161,000 sq ft), Wells Fargo and TP ICAP’s pre-let of part of 135 Bishopsgate (122,000 sq ft).

Public sector and government occupiers have also driven pre-let volumes, including large-scale consolidations from HMRC, FCA and TfL, as well as the Chinese Embassy’s transaction at Royal Mint Court.

King’s Cross is one of the most popular desinations for new office stock secure pre-let in recent years, including deals in 2018 to Nike (63,000 sq ft), Facebook, Google, Spaces and WeWork. West End submarkets such as White City, Battersea and Nine Elms have have also attracted significant pre-lets including in 2018, Penguin Random House (83,000 sq ft).

It is clear that occupiers are looking beyond the traditional core office markets. Banking & financial occupiers took the largest share of tower pre-lets over the last 10 years with 32% of total volumes, matched by insurance companies (32%). Some 17% of lettings were prelet prior to construction and 29% let during the construction process, compared to 54% let post completion.

Outside of London, Barclays pre-let 470,000 sq ft at Buchanan Wharf in Glasgow. The new campus complex will house existing Glasgow staff along with new positions created in technology and operations functions. in Manchester, Booking.com has pre-let 222,000 sq ft at St John’s Building, as the new global headquarters for its ground transportation division, consolidating four offices around the city.

Research has revealed that larger occupiers are considering their options 3-4 years ahead of a move, especially if the target is a move in the core districts. Trends also include some smaller pre-lets with shorter leases, particularly whilst schemes are under construction. Competition for core space is making fringe locations more desirable, especially with the possibility of rental savings.

Metropolis is currently tracking over 100 occupiers looking for over 20,000 sq ft of offices in 2019-20, more than half of which could consider a pre-let.

Paul Ives Metropolis Head of Research – paul@metroinfo.co.uk

Advertisements

4000 office moves for 2018-19

Metropolis has broken new records after 7,200 office business leads were published in 2017. If all the office space contained within those leads were added together the total would top 200 million sq ft.

Covering office deals agreed, companies searching for space, those with potential requirements and a small number of key speculative schemes, the 7,200 leads covered the whole UK from the tip of Cornwall to the north of Scotland. Office sizes ranged from 1,500 sq ft for 10 staff to Google’s new 800,000 sq ft London HQ.

Key points:

  • 2,700 company office moves confirmed to have completed in 2017;

 

  • 3,200 office moves are planned for 2018 and 890 office moves already planned in 2019 or later;

 

  • 3,000 companies, including 1,300 with ‘identified requirements’ expect to be making property decisions in 2018 and 2019;

 

IT and media services is the largest sector (800 leads) followed by financial services (600 leads) and professional, including large numbers of accountants and law firms (450 leads). Although the leads are spread over all UK regions, the size of the London office market, means that over 40% of the leads feature relocations, both scheduled and planned in central London. All leads include contact names, telephone numbers and 75% have email addresses, many of which are specific to the decision maker.

Metropolis remains the largest specialist provider of market intelligence led, office market business leads.

Recent research by Metropolis concluded that a conservative estimate of ‘live’ business opportunities on the database in recent months exceeded £1bn of business.

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

 

Trends in the London Tech Market

Colliers International has just published its ‘Tech Market Monitor’ for summer 2016. The report looks at the impact of the Tech and Media sectors in London over the last five years and the current trends in the London market.

The main conclusions include:

  • London companies are becoming increasingly ‘footloose’ and are increasingly not tied to traditional London office districts;
  • Tech and Media are now the ‘key drivers’ of the London office market and the sector has seen 5.2m sq ft of moves in the last five years;
  • Tech and Media occupiers, such as Facebook (227,000 sq ft), Google (180,000 sq ft) and Universal Music (173,000 sq ft) were responsible for 26% of London office space taken in 2015;
  • The fastest growing areas include King’s Cross, Southbank and Midtown fringe (Farringdon, Aldgate, Clerkenwell and Shoreditch), with major relocations including Omnicom, Ogilvy & Mather (Southbank), Google (King’s Cross) and Amazon (Shoreditch);
  • Technological innovation is helping to drive the refurbishment and redevelopment of buildings in fringe London office districts. Apple’s decision to take up to 450,000 sq ft at Battersea Power Station is an illustration;
  • The ‘Tech City’ area in London, EC1 has seen a 90% occupation growth since 2009;
  • Tech and media occupiers are prepared to pay high prices to secure the right space and specifications;
  • Future schemes likely to attract occupiers will include: Shoreditch, specifically Helical’s The Tower, EC1 (171,000 sq ft), GPE’s 148 Old Street, EC1 (162,000 sq ft) and Derwent’s Whitechapel Building, E1 (200,000 sq ft).

Metropolis occupier research backs up these trends. Our research uncovered nearly 400 unique new London Tech and Media occupier requirements for subscribers in the last 12 months totalling 6m sq ft. Most of these companies still have ‘live’ requirements.