Drivers Jonas: Manchester’s office occupiers plan to expand

Michael Hunt

Almost half of Manchester city centre office occupiers are planning a move to larger premises in the future, according to latest research by consultancy Drivers Jonas.

DJ's Manchester Occupier Survey asked questions about what office occupiers liked and disliked about being Manchester-based along with their plans for moving and expanding.

Whilst 70 out of 100 businesses interviewed said they had been affected by the recession, 34% still plan to increase its workforce within a year.

Drivers Jonas said just 3% of firms are considering making further redundancies over the next twelve months, which indicated Manchester's office market will see welcome increase in demand in 2010.

The report reveals that the city centre has a loyal occupier base with over 70% of those interviewed being based in Manchester for over a decade, and a quarter for more than 25 years.

Drivers Jonas highlights that the expected growth of Manchester's existing businesses will provide "much needed churn to the city's office market as occupiers look to take advantage of the over-supply in Grade A space and the reduced headline rents".

DJ's Manchester Occupiers' Survey also revealed that image and location were more important than cost to firms when deciding where to acquire premises. Convenience for staff, and nearby shops and amenities were also significant determining factors.

The survey highlighted that the city's transport infrastructure is one of the biggest issues for companies, with good public transport links being ranked among the best aspects of a city centre location and traffic congestion and lack of parking being the worst.

Respondents were also asked to rank other North West business centres in order of importance, with Manchester Airport seen as the next most important location, followed by Salford Quays and Liverpool.

According to DJ's report, Salford Quays will become second only to the city centre in terms of its prominence as a regional centre of commerce with the BBC's move to Media City UK and new transport infrastructure seen as a huge driver for growth.

John Walley, partner from Drivers Jonas Manchester, said: "While the city centre office market is expected to see some oversupply in the short term, it's encouraging to see so many loyal occupiers looking to move to larger premises in the next five years.

"It is clear that Manchester remains, as it has done for many years, the region's primary business location and it will continue to do so.

"Although in order to maintain this status, our report indicates that more needs to be done to help relieve traffic congestion in the city centre or else there is a risk businesses could one day be driven out."

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 42% of respondents confirmed that half of their staff travel to work by car
  • 75% of occupiers are considering the green agenda

Most respondents were from the media, property and construction sectors. Half of the interviewed respondents also believe that the Metrolink extension will help ease traffic congestion with 47% feeling it would have no impact.

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