SMEs drive Liverpool office market

Office deals in Liverpool city centre reached 120,000 sq ft in the first half of this year, while the out-of-town market recorded 133,000 sq ft, according to research from the Property Agents Group of Professional Liverpool.

The SME market within Liverpool city centre accounted for the majority of office transactions within the first half of the year, with the out of town market facing a shortage of supply following a number of large deals.

There were 85 transactions completed in Liverpool city centre in the first half of the year, 60% more than 2014. The deals averaged at less than 1,500 sq ft.

Stuart Keppie, partner at Keppie Massie, and chairman of the group, said: “Traditionally take-up usually gathers pace as the year progresses. The exception, in recent years, was 2014, where the first half was 250,000 sq ft buoyed by the City Council occupation of 85,000 sq ft.

“The take up for the commercial district for the 2015 half year is 120,000 sq ft, which is higher than 2012 and 2013. What is exceptional is the number of transactions. This is a clear indicator of the activity in the indigenous small market although it should be noted that there have been more transactions over 2,500 sq ft than for any of the last three years.

“The take up has been most prominent in the professional and creative media sectors along with a large number of less orthodox occupiers. Lack of activity, so far, has been evident in the public sector and the associated outsourcing. The general feeling for the city centre is one of cautious encouragement. The issue going forward is one of supply particularly in the small suites market.”

The Property Agents Group reported that in the city centre, the professional sector accounted for around 30% of transactions, followed closely by the creative and digital sector with just over 20% of transactions.

The out-of-town market saw larger deals and a diminished supply. The largest deal was the sale of the 22,900 sq ft Vortex House for conversion to a studio school.

Andrew Byrne, senior surveyor at CBRE, said: “The volume of transactions in the out of town market is less than that of the city centre, but the aggregate size of space transacted increases significantly and H1 take up stands at 133,300 sq ft; eclipsing H1 take up of 70,000 sq ft in 2014. The issue going forward in the out of town market will be lack of supply. We have already seen evidence of this in 2015 with the sale of Vortex House and a number of occupiers taking space in Alaska House; leaving limited options for an occupier seeking in excess of 10,000 sq ft.”

The Property Agents Group within Professional Liverpool consists of CBRE, Keppie Massie, GVA Billfinger, Hitchcock Wright & Partners, Lambert Smith Hampton, Matthews & Goodman and Mason & Partners.

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