As office take-up for 2017 nears the 1.2m sq ft mark, Manchester’s agents are turning their attentions to bringing in deals on some of the 400,000 sq ft-plus of live requirements in the city in 2018’s first quarter.
That figure doesn’t include the Government Property Unit’s phased requirement, which could be for anything up to 750,000 sq ft over several years, part of which looks likely to land at English Cities Fund’s New Bailey. Several of the requirements it does include are well known, such as WSP, which is close to agreeing a deal on 60,000 sq ft at No8 First Street, while that same building and Hanover at NOMA are said to be in competition for Amazon’s 70,000 sq ft requirement, code-named ‘Project Oasis’.
The legal sector remains key. According to one agent, there are three law firms in the market who could account for 150,000 sq ft of lettings between them before 2018 is out.
This figure excludes Irwin Mitchell, which is set to move into 22,600 sq ft in One St Peter’s Square, but includes Eversheds Sutherland, which has shortlisted five potential homes ahead of its relocation from Great Bridgewater Street and is seeking up to 50,000 sq ft. A decision is said to be imminent.
Other potential deals are emerging. Online retailer Beauty Bay, currently based in Exchange Quay, is looking for 20,000 sq ft to 25,000 sq ft in the local market, to support its 60,000 sq ft distribution hub in Trafford Park. Ministry of Sound is also said to be looking, for 40,000 sq ft to 50,000 sq ft.
Meanwhile technology giant Hewlett Packard is no nearer to resolving a search that has been ongoing, sporadically for several years, with a need for around 100,000 sq ft.
The business has undergone huge structural changes at global level, and although CBRE remains its representative following a successful re-pitch, a spokesman said “we have no instructions at the moment – in the New Year, hopefully, we’ll re-open the file”.
Should that happen, say agents, 100 Embankment, which at 164,000 sq ft is one of few buildings able to accommodate such demand, is an obvious contender. Ask Real Estate is developing the building, and is being forward-funded by Salford City Council.
Other requirements, according to one agent’s report seen by Place North West, include Moneysupermarket, Handelsbanken and software provider Interact. The first two are each seeking 25,000 sq ft, and the latter between 15,000 sq ft and 20,000 sq ft.
Rapidly growing Cheadle-based travel business OnTheBeach is also considering a move, to somewhere that can provide 25,000 sq ft to 40,000 sq ft.
Andrew Gardiner, director of agent TSG, said: “Take-up’s looking likely to hit 1.2m sq ft again, and although that is likely to drop off a bit in 2018, partially due to the lack of new stock, there are plenty of live requirements. Demand is definitely up and there are requirements emerging all the time – although of course, they don’t all come to fruition.”
OBI Property director Will Lewis said: “While take-up is obviously an important statistic, it’s the diverse nature of the requirements in Manchester that is the key differentiator between it and other cities. This diversity is the main reason that we’re not overly nervous about the possibility of the market cooling in 2018.”