Thames Valley Office Market Update

JLL’s just published Western Corridor office market report concludes that the Thames Valley enjoyed a solid start to 2018. Take-up across the region totalled approximately 516,000 sq ft, representing an increase of 31% on the corresponding quarter of 2017.

The first quarter of 2018 was characterised by smaller deals, according to JLL. The the majority of activity (80%) taking place in the 10,000 sq ft to 50,000 sq ft size band. Deal numbers increased by 50% from 24 deals in Q1 2017 to 36 deals in Q1 2018.

Metropolis reported on over 30 planned relocations in the M4 corridor in Q1 2018, such as FM Global taking 57,000 sq ft at Voyager Place in Maidenhead; Black+Decker taking 49,000 sq ft at 270 Bath Road, Slough; Panasonic taking 41,000 sq ft at Maxis office scheme in Bracknell; Fora Space taking 28,000 sq ft at Thames Tower, Reading; JDA Software taking 23,000 sq ft and Riverbed Technology 16,000 sq ft at Maxis office scheme in Bracknell; GiffGaff taking 23,000 sq ft in Uxbridge; Quest Software taking 13,000 sq ft at Arlington Square, Bracknell and MBNL at Thames Tower, Reading.

JLL say that supply of office space is flattening, falling below 10m sq ft and this is expected to moderate further over 2018.  JLL also think that availability will decline in 2019 and 2020 as the number of active speculative development schemes reduce.

James Finnis, head of south east office agency at JLL, said: “The Q1 take-up figures represent a solid start to 2018. The 50% increase in the number of deals in Q1 illustrates growing occupier confidence. Occupiers are focused on the best space and there is widespread evidence of tenants trading up but taking less overall sq ft. Flexibility remains important with occupiers wanting to build in options to either grow or downsize. The addition of serviced or co-working space into multi let buildings is a natural extension of this, providing on site swing space.

Metropolis is currently tracking around 50 office searches of various sizes along the Thames Valley and talking to over 100 occupiers with approaching lease expiries in the area.

 

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South East Offices Focus

BNP Paribas report that the South East office market has continued to enjoy a solid, if unspectacular year to date. Around 2.2m sq ft of office deals have transacted across the South East office market, outside central London, down 6.5% year-on-year to end August 2016. Take-up in the first half of 2016 totalled 1.32 million sq ft. This was around 450,000 sq ft lower than the second half of 2015, although only 8.7% below the five half yearly average.

The largest deals include HMRC’s decision to take 183,000 sq ft at Ruskin Square scheme in Croydon, Ocado signing for 137,000 sq ft at Hatfield Business Park, Neilsons took 45,000 sq ft at Oxford Business Park, Superdrug (53,100 sq ft) at Pinnacle House, Croydon and Black & Veatch (21,950 sq ft) at Red Central, Redhill. The majority of requirements are still being triggered by lease events, although Thales’s consolidation at Green Park, Reading and Blackberry’s relocation to Maidenhead, are due to corporate restructuring.

Along the M4, total take-up fell by 30% in Q2 to 349,100 sq ft. The largest transaction along the M4 during Q2 was the 85,000 sq ft taken by technology firm Amadeus at Heathrow Business Park. Alnylam took 21,000 sq ft at Braywick Gate, Maidenhead, while 20,400 sq ft was let to pharmaceutical firm Mallinckrodt at Lotus Park in Staines.

The majority of demand is in the sub 20,000 sq ft size band. There are, however, a number of larger (50,000 sq ft+) active requirements in the market, such as: Future Electronics, L’Oreal, Medidata and FM Global. Some of which are expected to sign in the second half of 2016.

Metropolis is currently tracking around 120 companies looking for office space in the South East region

Current demand is largely being driven by lease breaks and expiries as opposed to occupier expansion. Looking ahead, The South East will continue to benefit from its broad occupier base. It is not overly reliant on
the finance and banking sector.

London West End Autumn 2015 – A Preview

Significant Demand In The Pipeline

This Metropolis blog breaks new ground with an attempt to give clients an insight into the ‘work in progress’ on forthcoming office requirements in the London West End market. In the spirit of those TV autumn trailers, we set out below a flavour of some of the stories we hope to bring Metropolis clients over the next two months.

Some Background

Outstanding, unsatisfied, named office requirements in central London are now estimated by Metropolis to be over 10m sq ft, which is the highest figure since the recession. This can only be an approximate figure as ‘requirements’ cover all types of searches from urgent ones involving tenants in buildings where the lease expires ahead of demolition to half-hearted searches by occupiers who are 90% sure that they will renew the lease, but want to compare the market in order to put some pressure on the existing landlord.

Many of the larger requirements (over 20,000 sq ft) are in advance of lease expiries in 2017-19. However, smaller searches below 10,000 sq ft, are often launched less than 18 months before lease expiry. In many cases the occupier is only looking because it needs more space, has a lease end, or it is affected by redevelopment. The costs of relocation tend to limit the number of ‘sideways moves’ involving a company relocating from one building to another, whilst keeping its occupancy size the same.

Recent West End Activity

Office relocation  activity in London’s West End has been a little muted so far in 2015. Figures compiled by Metropolis show Central London take-up in the 8 months to August was 7.6m sq ft, of which only 2m sq ft was to office space in the West End. Some 140,000 sq ft has been pre-let, 450,000 sq ft is grade A newly completed space, with the remainder secondhand.

Some of the larger deals have included Marshall Wace Asset Management’s 43,000 sq ft pre-let of 131 Sloane Street in Knightsbridge; Richemont’s 38,000 sq ft deal at Walmer House on Regents Street and just last month King.com’s letting of 65,000 sq ft at the recently-completed Ampersand Building on Oxford Street. Facebook is also set to confirm its 217,000 sq ft pre-letting of the under construction Rathbone Square in London, W1, which will be the largest West End letting this year.

What’s Coming Up

We are currently researching a number of promising West End leads which look likely to result in 40 named requirements and potentially 1.6m sq ft of office deals.

The majority of office requirements are for a move in 2016 (29), with the remainder lining up moves for 2017 or 2018. Some 23 occupiers are citing expansion as the trigger for their move, while 16 have lease events and the remainder are consolidating fragmented buildings or downsizing.

In terms of the sector, as the graph below shows, it is the media sector which dominates, followed by IT/e-commerce and financial services, including hedge funds and asset managers. The business services sector also remains important with a steady stream of new requirements from serviced office operators.

 

WE Requirements

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around a quarter of companies are looking in the core areas of Mayfair and St James’s, with a further quarter searching in Victoria. A further 25% are searching Soho and north of Oxford Street up to Kings Cross and Euston with the remainder looking in fringe areas such as Camden or Hammersmith.

By size, around half of the 40 requirements are below 20,000 sq ft, with a third between 20,000 and 50,000 sq ft and the remaining five searches are over 100,000 sq ft.

In Conclusion

There is a healthy pipeline of new requirements being launched in London’s West End this autumn. As would be expected, media companies, hedge funds and asset managers are very active, but these have been joined by some of the large e-commerce and social network companies and business service providers to increase the competition for space. Metropolis is working to research the details of these requirements and will be publishing these online for clients shortly.

 

Copyright Metropolis Property Research Ltd 2015

Thames Valley sees take-up rise

A recent report from consultant Lambert Smith Hampton on the Thames Valley office market reported an impressive Q2 2015, with take-up increasing by 157%.

Total take-up of offices (over 5,000 sq ft) in Q2 2015 was 540,411 sq ft, compared with 210,348 sq ft in the same period in 2014. Total take-up in 2015 so far is 896,419 sq ft, compared with just 506,787 sq ft at the end of Q2 2014 – an increase of 77% year on year. LSH also report that 400,000 sq ft of further deals are under offer.

Some of the larger recent deals, all reported on Metropolis, include: Gartner taking 107,000 sq ft at Tamesis, Staines; Maersk Shipping taking 41,000 sq ft at The Point, Maidenhead; Hitachi Data Systems taking 35,817 sq ft at Capitol, Bracknell; South Oxfordshire District Council taking 33,250 sq ft at 135 Milton Park, Abingdon; Markerstudy taking 20,966 sq ft at Waterside House, Uxbridge; Aetna taking 20,128 sq ft at 25 Templer Avenue, Farnborough Business Park.

LSH recorded 5,000 new office inquiries during Q2 2015 which is slightly down on a year ago. New requirements on Metropolis include Biogen, Thales, Bayer, Osram and Worley Parsons. Named demand has increased significantly in the last two years and is currently estimated to stand at approximately 6.5m sq ft. There is a growing trend of tenants decentralising from central London locations to the Thames Valley and Heathrow areas. It has also been noted that occupiers are increasingly looking for different space in the Thames Valley with a more basic office environment with flexible floorplates becoming popular.

Metropolis Office Requirements – H1

Over 450 companies vie for London space

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Metropolis research identified over 17m sq ft of UK office demand in the first half of 2015. Just over 9.2m sq ft of this demand was for office space in Greater London, with over 450 companies searching for London space. In the rest of the UK Metropolis uncovered 400 requirements for new space representing 8.1m sq ft of office demand.

Central London office demand reached 8m sq ft, 3.8m sq ft (47.5%) of which was focused on the City of London. EC2 was the most popular postcode for companies planning a move,  with 1.4m sq ft of demand emerging in H1.

A significant proportion of total City of London demand (11%) came from two new law firm requirements, each firm looking for 200,000 sq ft. A new 150,000 sq ft requirement from an insurance group was also worthy of note. Demand from the banking and finance sector reached 1m sq ft, 26% of total City of London demand.

Demand for space in the West End, where rents can reach £125 psf, hit 1.8m sq ft. The largest West End requirement (150,000 sq ft) came from a social media group looking for offices in SW1. Just over 400,000 sq ft of office space (26% of total demand) was required by the banking & finance sector, 79% of which (315,000 sq ft) came from hedge funds and private investment firms.

Mid Town office demand reached 0.9m sq ft, pretty evenly split between WC1 and WC2. About 100,000 sq ft of Mid Town demand came from the technology sector and 90,000 sq ft from the media sector. Demand from law firms was just over 120,000 sq ft and demand from the banking and finance sector totalled 110,000 sq ft.

The largest office requirement in the South Bank (SE1) was a 140,000 sq ft search by an engineering and construction firm. Other requirements of note include a US insurance firm switching a 60,000 sq ft search from Maidenhead to London SE1, and a TV Broadcaster looking for 30,000 sq ft to house its news department.

Two big requirements dominated demand for office space in the Docklands: a German investment bank back office requirement for 350,000 sq ft and an information company requirement for 300,000 sq ft, with a sub-let mooted.

 

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The Top 5 Regional Cities

Manchester – The largest requirement, 400,000 sq ft, was a search by a government department considering space near Piccadilly Station in Manchester. Just over 250,000 sq ft of Manchester office demand came from the legal sector and 300,000 sq ft of demand was attributed to the insurance sector.

Edinburgh – Similar to the picture in Manchester, Edinburgh demand was dominated by a large government requirement for office space (300,000 sq ft), although this requirement could move to Glasgow. In terms of private sector demand, notable requirements included a 100,000 sq ft search by a US Bank and two significant searches from law firms seeking a move in central Edinburgh, one for 50,000 sq ft and the other 30,000 sq ft. There was also significant demand from the accountancy sector, with four firms searching for just over 130,000 sq ft.

Birmingham – A retail bank was linked with the largest office requirement in Birmingham: 170,000 sq ft,  a search now satisfied by space at Miller Developments Arena Central scheme.  Other significant requirements include a potential 100,000 sq ft search from a law firm and a 50,000 sq ft search from a business education group.

Reading – The largest requirement for Reading offices came from a network broadcaster looking for 150,000 sq ft, closely followed by a utility company searching for 140,000 sq ft. Both requirements also consider other Thames valley locations such as Bracknell, Farnborough and Slough.

Bristol – Bristol office demand was dominated by insurance company requirements, with the sector accounting for 56% of total demand (280,000 sq ft). Other notable requirements include an 80,000 sq ft search from a Bristol based law firm planning to combine two of its offices (which may now be a refurbishment and extension of the existing building) and an engineering group searching for 25,000 sq ft.

 

Top Ten Cities (Excluding London) by H1 Office Demand

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Copyright Metropolis Property Research Ltd 2015

 

 

Metropolis Office Requirements – Q1 2015

9.6m sq ft of demand

The Metropolis team researched over 455 UK company office requirements in Q1 2015, representing 9.6m sq ft of office demand.

5.5m sq ft of this demand was for space in Greater London, 4.3m sq ft of which was demand for central London space. 4.1m sq ft of demand was identified by our team in the rest of the UK.

Demand for City of London space continued to be strong during Q1, with 2.1m sq ft required in over 91 planned office relocations. Four of the top five requirements by size were searches by banks with the other a significant requirement from a major accountancy firm. The top five requirements were moves planned in 2016, 2017 and 2018. EC2 demand made up 42% of the total central London space required.

0.8m sq ft of demand was identified in the West End of London, 0.5m sq ft in London SW1 and 0.3m sq ft in London W1. Two of the top five requirements by size were searches by banking and finance companies. All of the top five largest moves are planned for late 2015 and 2016.

Mid Town office demand was mainly focused on London WC2, with two of the largest requirements centered on this postcode. One of the most significant requirements identified was an 80,000 sq ft HQ search by a TMT company planning a move in 2017.

In London SE1, where 0.3m sq ft of demand was researched, the largest requirement came from a construction group. In E14, a 400,000 sq ft requirement from an investment bank made up 66% of the 0.6m sq ft of total demand for offices in the area.

Banking & Finance sector UK office demand reached 2m sq ft in Q1 2015. The largest searches centered on the City of London and Docklands, although there was a notable search for 175,000 sq ft of space in central Birmingham.

0.8m sq ft of demand was identified from the Technology & Telecoms sector, and similar to banking and finance was largely focused on the City of London. There were however also significant searches for space in Manchester and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The largest government requirements were for space outside of central London, the most significant a search for over 400,000 sq ft in Manchester. The largest media sector requirements centered on fringe central London locations and the top three law sector requirements were for space in Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol.

 
Metropolis is currently tracking over 700 unique searches for space in London and over 400 in the rest of the UK.

 

DemandbysectordemandinLondon

 

Metropolis Office Requirements – Q3 2014

9.5m sq ft of demand

Our team here at Metropolis researched over 370 UK company office requirements in Q3 2014, representing 9.5m sq ft of office demand.

6m sq ft of this demand was for space in Greater London and 4.9m sq ft was demand for space in central London.

Demand for City of London space continued to be strong during Q3, with 2.4m sq ft required in over 60 planned relocations. Three of the top five largest requirements in the City were searches by technology and media companies. EC2 demand made up 37.5% of the total space required.

1.4m sq ft of demand was identified in the West End of London, split equally between requirements for space in London SW1 and W1. Again three of the top five largest requirements were searches by technology and media companies, with two significant searches by financial service sector companies identified.

Mid Town office demand was largely focused on London WC2, with 100,000 sq ft of the 300,000 sq ft required in this postcode attributed to media sector requirements.

Just over 0.6m sq ft of demand was researched in London’s Southbank, 200,000 sq ft of which was triggered by an energy company’s requirement for additional space in the area.

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Similar to H1 results, the Banking & Finance sector is leading the demand for new UK offices, with 1.4m sq ft of requirements in the UK, just over 0.4m sq ft of which is sought in the City of London.

Requirements from media sector companies represented just over 1m sq ft of demand, a 300,000 sq ft requirement in London W1 significantly boosting this figure. Technology & Telecom sector requirements came a close third with 0.9m sq ft of demand. The law sector accounted for 0.8m sq ft of demand and the insurance sector 0.5m sq ft.

 

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Simon Sluszny October 2014

Copyright Metropolis Property Research Ltd