The London Commercial Property Market: An Overview of 2015

4th Quarter – Commercial Property Market in London

As 2015 comes to an end, it’s time to sum up the key trends that have characterised the commercial property market in London over the past 12 months. The latest RICS UK Commercial Market Survey highlighted the growing demand experienced across all commercial property sectors, and in particular with regards to office and industrial properties. As expected, increased demand has resulted in higher prime rental values across all sectors. These averaged a 9.4 per cent increase in office rental prices, 7 per cent for retail stock, and just below 4 per cent for industrial properties (1).

The retail market benefited from exceptional levels of consumer confidence, which are at their highest since the late 90s. Annual change rates for retail rents in the West End averaged 14 per cent, whereas in the City they stayed at 4 per cent (2). Citywide, rental growth averaged 13.2 per cent. Vacancy rates dropped to 3 per cent, a figure that stands in stark contrast with this year’s national average at 14 per cent. Another key trend this year had to do with the performance of the industrial market, which experienced a boost as the e-commerce sector solidified its presence (3).

Office Market – Q4 2015

During the last quarter of 2015, the London office market has continued to display robust activity levels. At the beginning of Q4, year-to-date take up levels amounted to 9.7 million square feet, a figure that represents a 3 per cent increase over last year’s values. Most transactions involved firms involved in sectors like professional services, media and technology, and banking.

According to research data published by BNP Paribas, during November and December the main trends affecting the London office market were above-average leasing activity and a surge in investment levels. Vacancy rates dropped to 4.28 per cent in November, although this figure is likely to increase with the delivery of more than 7 million square feet of Grade A space over the course of 2016. Year-to-date take up rates reached 12.40 million square feet in early December (4). Continue reading “The London Commercial Property Market: An Overview of 2015”

Quirky, Cool Christmas Office Party Ideas in London

With only a few weeks left until Christmas Day, most office managers and business owners are busy organising their annual Christmas office party. Year after year, the festive season presents us with an opportunity to reward our staff and show our gratitude for a whole year of hard work. Corporate Christmas parties are also effective at building team spirit and motivating employees, in addition to being a great PR and marketing exercise.

But perhaps this year you’d prefer to organise something more interesting and memorable than the typical office Christmas lunch or dinner party. If you’d like to bring your team together by doing something fun and completely atypical, read through the suggestions below and learn more about some quirky, cool Christmas office party ideas in London.

Underground Crazy Golf at Waterloo
Underground Crazy Golf is set to become one of the most popular corporate day out experiences in the British capital. We are all familiar with Christmas golf breaks, which can be as appealing as they are costly. If you are looking for a more affordable way to celebrate Christmas with your staff and do not want to leave golf out of the equation, Underground Crazy Golf is the right choice for you. Continue reading “Quirky, Cool Christmas Office Party Ideas in London”

The Business Benefits and Economic Boost: Crossrail Western Section

Crossrail will result in a range of substantial economic benefits to London, the South-East and the UK. According to Crossrail, the economic impact of the new transport corridor will be at least £42 billion. It will also promote new business development and employment opportunities, as well as improved commuting times for those living and working along the corridor.

Running from Paddington in Central London to Heathrow Airport and Reading, the western section is set to open in 2019. A number of stations will be enhanced along the route, while new stations will open at Acton Main Line, Southall, West Ealing and Hayes & Harlington. These improvements are also encouraging development and regeneration, providing new places to work and do business along the Crossrail corridor. Other stations along the western section of Crossrail include Burnham, Ealing Broadway, Hanwell, Heathrow Airport, Iver, Langley, Maidenhead, Reading, Slough, Taplow Twyford, and West Drayton. Crossrail will help support the regeneration of town centres such as Ealing, as well as other areas including Southall.

One of the most significant impacts of the western section will be on the residential market. By reducing travel times, Crossrail will help increase house prices along the route. This will increase the appeal of several areas, such as Ealing. Ealing Broadway Station is being refurbished, while the town centre is subject to extensive regeneration plans including an upgrade to the Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre. These improvements are attracting commercial property developers to Ealing, with major schemes including the St. George’s development on New Broadway.

Shorter commute times will also help attract new commercial development to the area around five Crossrail stations within Ealing. The new link will help make Ealing an attractive alternative to areas along the M4/A4 corridor in West London. According to Crossrail, 44 per cent of planning applications for development within a kilometre of the five stations in the London Borough of Ealing cited the project as a justification for moving forward. For example, the Southall Gas Works will bring 3,750 new homes and 525,000 square feet of new commercial and community space close to Southall station. The development of the 83-hectare brownfield site will also include a new primary school. Continue reading “The Business Benefits and Economic Boost: Crossrail Western Section”

Overview of London’s Commercial Property Market – 3rd Quarter 2015

Q3: September Commercial Property Report for London

Across the United Kingdom, the third quarter of 2015 has been marked by acceleration in GDP growth rates and by the strong performance of the service sector. These factors have had a positive effect on the country’s commercial real estate market, which has experienced increased stability and growing demand over the past three months. This trend has been particularly evident in the British capital, as summarised in the report below.

London Office Market: Trends and Highlights

In line with previous trends earlier this year, the office market in central London has continued to be driven by increased demand and record rental values have been the predominant theme in the West End and core city office locations. A Cushman & Wakefield market report revealed that in August 2015, availability for all office space types in Central London dropped to 9.7 million square feet, a figure that represents a 3.7 per cent decrease over the previous quarter. This record-breaking figure is also below the decade’s average, which stands at 15 million square feet. According to the report, the amount of office space under offer in central London has also increased substantially during this past quarter, growing by more than 4 per cent, or 60 per cent higher than the past 10-year average. It is estimated that there are currently 4.4 million square feet of office space under offer in central London.

Another key trend that has emerged over the past quarter is related to the large number of FinTech start-ups that have been launched across London. CBRE market analysts have reported that FinTech clusters are now well defined in areas like Canary Wharf, which is home to nearly 10 per cent of all recent start-ups in this industry sector. Office space in the South Bank is also highly sought after by FinTech start-ups, with postcodes like EC2A and EC1V following suit, and with another FinTech cluster evolving in and around Tech City, also in East London. If current market trends are anything to go by, in the near future we can expect to see a surge in demand for incubator space coming mainly from FinTech firms, as well as larger floorplate requirements, given that many of these companies are ready for expansion. Continue reading “Overview of London’s Commercial Property Market – 3rd Quarter 2015”

Company Relocation: Office Relocation Checklist

The fourth in our series on Company Relocation

Planning is crucial when relocating. To help plan for an office move, the following checklist outlines important steps to consider when relocating.

The Planning Stage

During the early stages of planning for a move, it is important to consider the company’s needs and goals for the new location. Understanding these will help inform the design of the new space, as well as facilitate a smooth relocation.

Ensure you:

– Choose a relocation team that is led by a senior-level champion
– Clearly define roles and responsibilities for affected departments and parties
– Engage employees and seek input
– Engage stakeholders, including board members, regulators, clients and suppliers
– Define goals and priorities for the new location
– Define needs for the new location, including amenities, services and storage space

The Development Stage

Once priorities have been identified and affected groups are engaged, the relocation process moves into the development stage. At this point, budgets and plans should be drafted. Sites should also be explored and narrowed down to identify the new office pace. Continue reading “Company Relocation: Office Relocation Checklist”

Company Relocation: Relocating your Office

The third in our series on Office Relocation

Relocating an office can be both exciting and stressful, as well as being one of the most expensive decisions made by a company. This makes planning vital for a successful move. The following outlines key considerations when moving a company, from early planning stages to the actual move into new office premises.

The first step in relocating is to identifying the team responsible for organising the move, including a senior-level champion who will make decisions. Roles and responsibilities should be clearly identified for each departments involved in the planning process, including finance, facilities, IT, operations, marketing, human resources and senior managers. Moves can cause stress and anxiety, and keeping staff informed is a good way to avoid misunderstandings and confusion. Staff should have opportunities to provide feedback and access information about the move throughout the process. In some cases, engagement with trade unions and employees directly affected by the move is required under the Information & Consultation of Employees Regulations. Other stakeholders may also need to be engaged, including the parent company, board members, department heads, and regulators.

Finding the right location

Prior to planning a move, companies should identify requirements and priorities for the new location. Defining these will help ensure that the right location is identified. The location should have good access to potential employees with the skills needed to support the company. Consider transportation links and services, including public transport, highway and road access, and parking. The new location should allow employees to have a reasonable commute from their home and also be easy for clients and others to visit. There should also be local amenities for employees, such as shops, restaurants and other services. Once a site is selected, a full survey should be carried out to determine the condition of the building and identify potential issues that may affect costs as well as the design of the new office.
Continue reading “Company Relocation: Relocating your Office”

Company Relocation: Relocating People and Employees

The second in our series on Company Relocation

When a company relocates within or outside of the United Kingdom, they may also relocate their employees. From time to time, companies may also be required to relocate staff to other cities or countries. This might be the result of opening a new office or trying to meet operational requirements by having enough resources in different locations. Companies need to consider the rights of their employees when relocating people. At the same time, employees need to understand the conditions of their employment contract when they are asked to move.

Whenever a company relocates, employers are responsible for ensuring the rights of their employees are respected. This includes respecting the terms of any mobility clause in an employee’s contract. A mobility clause outlines the conditions and limits when an employee must move. This clause normally allows companies to force their workers to move, in accordance to the terms outlined in the clause. Employers are not required to provide compensation for employees if they relocate, unless this is identified in the employment contract. Employers must ensure that any request to move is reasonable. For example, asking an employee to relocate outside of the UK with only one day’s notice or if the move would affect the employee’s children’s education would not be considered reasonable requests.

It is important for employees to fully understand their employment contract and mobility clause, if present. Any employee with a mobility clause in their contract must move at the request of their employer unless they prove that the request to relocate is unreasonable. If proven that the move is unreasonable, the clause may not apply and the employee can request alternative arrangements. Employees without a mobility clause have the option to choose whether or not they wish to move. Continue reading “Company Relocation: Relocating People and Employees”

Overview of London’s Commercial Property Market – 2nd Quarter 2015

During the second quarter of 2015, we have seen a continuation of the market trends that characterised the first quarter of the year. Overall, the London commercial property market has experienced sustained rental growth in most sub-markets, but particularly in the West End. Researchers attribute continued rental growth to the healthy levels of leasing activity and to the rather reduced supply of Grade A space, and they affirm that increasing rental prices will be the predominant theme in the city’s commercial property market for the rest of the year.

This trend is particularly evident in the London office market. According to PropertyWeek.com, supply shortages in the city’s office stock are becoming “serious” and total supply dropped by 4 per cent between January and May 2015.

The London office market Q2 2015

Rising prices are the main theme in areas like Shoreditch, Clerkenwell, and Southbank. This trend is contributing to reduce the office cost disparities that have characterised the city core market for years. It is expected that price gaps across postcodes will be further reduced as these sub-markets become more consolidated. Another sub-market that has greatly benefited from strong demand is Hammersmith. Property Week has reported that this office sub-market is becoming a highly-sought after location that has gone from being a peripheral market to an extension of the West End. Similarly, those areas of the Thames Valley that are closer to the city have witnessed a noticeable surge in demand. This increase in demand is most likely caused by the improved transport links that will become a reality thanks to the Crossrail project. According to Colliers International, by the end of this year the office market in this area is expected to grow by 13 per cent.

Demand for serviced offices in London has experienced further growth during the past quarter. The number of serviced office space in central London has grown by 11 per cent so far, and growth is even more impressive in areas like the Southbank, where growth levels are around 17 per cent. In fact, Property Week reports that this sub-sector has outperformed all other market sectors not only in London, but also nationwide.

As far as new office developments are concerned, the most noteworthy deal closed during the second quarter of the year involves the agreement signed by Brookfield Mutiplex. This US-based firm has agreed to develop a £1 billion office complex in what will be London’s biggest skyscraper. The building will be located at 100 Bishopsgate, and once completed it will add 900,000 square feet to the city’s office stock. Other important projects in the city’s development pipeline include 5 Broadgate (700,000 square feet), 1 Bank Street (nearly 670,000 square feet), and 1 Angel Court (300,000 square feet). Continue reading “Overview of London’s Commercial Property Market – 2nd Quarter 2015”

A Guide to Company Relocation

Relocating an office or company to a different area or larger premises is an exciting prospect which can bring about new business relationships and increased opportunities. It can also be a lengthy and costly process, as well as a stressful moment in a company’s life for employers and employees. There are a range of considerations that must be considered when moving to a new office, from legal responsibilities to design and layout considerations to employee well-being and relations.

A successful move involves a lot of planning. Establishing requirements and priorities for a new location during the early planning stages will help inform decisions down the road. It will also establish a vision or objective for the move that will guide the entire process. Engaging with affected parties such as employees and clients will also help ensure the appropriate site is selected. It will also help reduce confusion and anxiety that inevitably is associated with a move. As a result, communication with employees, clients and other stakeholders is crucial to ensure a seamless move.

Continue reading “A Guide to Company Relocation”

London Office Space 2015: Stratford

Stratford in East London continues to experience significant regeneration and expansion as a result of the 2012 Summer Olympics, which were centred around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The district within the London Borough of Newham has seen a number of other projects bring new life to the area, including the multi-billion pound Westfield Stratford City shopping and commercial centre. The area’s relatively low rents are expected to continue to attract businesses from across sectors in the foreseeable future.

Stratford’s Economy

In recent years, Stratford has been the focal point for significant expansion and regeneration. High-profile projects have included the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which includes a number of venues for the 2012 Olympic Games including the Olympic Stadium, the London Aquatics Centre, and the London Velopark. The Olympics also added approximately 3,500 new homes when the former Olympic Village was converted into the East Village development. Other projects on the Olympic Park site include 1,500 new homes as part of the East Wick and Sweetwater neighbourhoods, new facilities for University College London and the Victoria & Albert Museum, Loughborough University’s iCity tech campus, and 15 new office and residential buildings in the International Quarter. Developments close to Westfield Stratford City will also add some 5,000 new homes as well as office space, public spaces, schools and other facilities. Other redevelopment projects have included upgrades to Stratford Station and the new 150 High Street, Stratford residential tower. Continue reading “London Office Space 2015: Stratford”