King Sturge's Manchester and Liverpool industrial agency teams were involved with 5.4m sq ft of occupational deals last year, nearly twice the average of 3m sq ft in the boom years.
David Brooks, King Sturge's Manchester-based UK head of industrial and logistics, said the market saw a flurry of opportunistic deals by occupiers and investors who took advantage of heavily discounted prices and highly competitive rental and incentive packages.
He adds: "Our 2011 Property Predictions forecast that this trend will continue across the UK. In the North West, our team expects to be active as strategic land-buying activity by developers intensifies with the focus on 'oven ready' sites which are immediately deliverable to meet demand as supply of new and modern 'big box' stock dwindles.
"We also believe that occupiers and investors will become increasingly alive to the obsolescence of certain types of larger secondary stock and may look to redevelop sites in prime locations to suit today's market requirements rather than face high refurbishment costs."
The larger deals the agency worked on in 2010 included the sale of the 500,000 sq ft The Hub at Heywood Distribution Park to Fowler Welch Cooltrain and the leasehold disposal of Titan 350 in Middlewich at 350,000 sq ft to Kuehne & Nagel/Fiat. In Trafford Park, King Sturge acted for Segro on a joint agency basis on some 500,000 sq ft of lettings with an additional 185,000 sq ft transacted at Heywood Business Park.
Other significant deals saw the freehold disposal of the Bridgewater Paper Co facility in administration in Ellesmere Port representing 900,000 sq ft on 50 acres to Peel Ports.