After taking over the leadership of the consultant’s Manchester office from Andrew McFarlane this month, Peter Gallagher sat down with Place North West to talk co-working, office requirements, and what makes the perfect surveyor.
Gallagher, who has been with Colliers for five years since joining from his former consultancy P3 Property Consultants, has stepped up to lead the Manchester office at Chancery Place, but has pledged there will be no major changes to the team’s structure.
“I’m not the full-time head of the Manchester office; we don’t really afford those luxuries,” he said. “All the heads of offices all have to be practitioners, so I’ll be keeping my work here as being involved in the national offices team, with a focus on development agency – so working on the pipeline of projects coming through.”
The team is advising on a series of major projects across the city centre, including Noma, which Gallagher said had a “five-year” pipeline of projects, including the renovation of the Dantzic and Redfern buildings; the former will complete later this year while the latter has recently received planning permission.
According to Gallagher, Dantzic already has “a six-page enquiry list” with some deals expected in the coming months.
Other development sites include Ralli Quays, on the opposite side of the River Irwell from Spinningfields, where Colliers is working with L&G. The building is due to be vacated by HMRC when its staff move to Three New Bailey, currently being built by contractor B&K and due to complete in 2021.
Feasibility studies are being drawn up, but Gallagher said the existing building had “probably reached the end of its life” by the time HMRC’s new office completes.
While supply is becoming increasingly restricted in Manchester, with research from Colliers pointing out a rise in pre-lets leaving around 200,000 sq ft immediately available, Gallagher highlighted a number of sites that were likely to come forward this year, including the former RBS office in Spinningfields which will release 160,000 sq ft once the bank moves out.
However, he warned there will be a “major supply crunch”, particularly in the first half of the year with many of the major schemes in the pipeline not completing until later in 2019; the 180,000 sq ft Landmark building next to One St Peter’s Square, is on course to hand over in the summer, along with Worthington Properties’ 125 Deansgate.
Grade A rents have now picked up to around £36/sq ft, while Grade B has rise to £27.50/sq ft. Investor and occupier demand is still buoyant, added Gallagher, despite political uncertainty, with capital being attracted from both within the UK and from overseas.
Reflecting on the rise of co-working in Manchester, where WeWork already has three sites and a further two on the horizon, Gallagher said: “WeWork seems to have an insatiable appetite, but where their peak is, I don’t know. Their take-up in London has been staggering.
“There is clearly a market for co-working, we see that, but if everybody fulfils their target to get a building, I don’t think the market is deep enough for them all to fill them, or even to reach 80% occupancy. They are chasing a market without understanding what its quantum is, so there will be winners and losers.”
While maintaining his role leading the offices team, Gallagher will continue to work with Mike Hawkins, Dominic Pozzoni, Scott Shufflebottom, and Folu Aladelusi.
Looking at future recruitment as well as working with the existing team, Gallagher singled out Aladelusi for praise.
“Folu is the epitome of what a young surveyor should be: well-dressed, nicely educated, a family guy, polite, courteous, very knowledgeable. If I could draw a picture of a young surveyor, somebody that could go into a board room and hold a conversation with a chief exec or a chief finance officer, it would be him,” he said.
Gallagher added that diversity would be high on the agenda, after Place raised the issue of a lack of female office agents across Manchester’s numerous surveying practices and consultants.
“To be honest, I don’t know why there aren’t any female office agents,” he said. “It could well be an image issue of middle-aged men having a drink at Sam’s Chop House but I want to work very hard on diversity and inclusion: you need to walk to the talk.
“Our tenet will be that that in a rapidly-changing business environment, we need make problem-solving real estate services as relevant in the future as it is today, and we need to invest in existing and new talent to make that happen.”