New figures show resilience of Manchester office sector

101 Barbirolli Square

The Manchester city centre office sector has seen a 30% uptick, the latest data from the Manchester Office Agency Forum (MOAF) has shown.

Office accommodation take up improved for the third consecutive quarter, with 53 transactions totalling 325,984 sq ft of floorspace. This marks an increase of 30% on both the previous quarter and the same period last year.

Active sectors included the public sector, with the GPA (Government Property Agency) securing the largest acquisition within quarter three, taking 36,375 sq ft at 101 Barbirolli Square, and education.

Manchester Metropolitan University acquired 36,116 sq ft at Manchester Technology Centre, Elizabeth School of London took 11,919 sq ft at Wellington House and London School of Commerce secured 9,059 sq ft at City Tower.

The serviced office market also continued to expand with two new openings for Orega at 1 Balloon Street and Tootal Buildings. Gilbanks opened its first centre in Manchester at 11 York Street and Huckletree expanded its operation within Express Building.

Other notable deals included RSM relocating from Spinningfields to a 14,000 sq ft floor at Landmark, St Peter’s Square and Barcrest Group moving into a 12,377 sq ft suite at Spinningfields from its previous office in Oldham.

MOAF spokesperson, Richard Wharton of JLL, said: “Despite the ongoing economic and political upheaval, the Manchester office market has remained extremely resilient, with increased return to the office trends being reported throughout the region, as well as occupier confidence holding steady.

“We saw 10 city centre transactions over 10,000 sq ft in Q3 alone, compared to a total of three in the first half of the year, and we expect a strong Q4 to take us beyond one million sq ft for the year.”

A further 199,344 sq ft was transacted in South Manchester, a significant increase of 240% on the previous quarter, the most notable transactions in Q3 being a 43,029 sq ft letting to Yourgene Health Care at Skelton House, Manchester Science Park, followed by a confidential leasing of 9,498 sq ft at 3 Barrington Road and Surfing Giant taking 6,811 sq ft at Vertex, both in Altrincham.

Take up in Salford Quays and Trafford was 46,239 sq ft, 50%, down on Q2, but the quantum of transactions rose from 32 to 38 showing increased activity in the SME sector of the market while a number of large transactions have slipped into Q4 which will, hopefully, provide a strong finish for the year.

Mark Cooke, at Avison Young, said: “Whilst businesses are tackling strong economic headwinds, South Manchester’s Q3 take up was the largest quarterly take up since Q3 2018 which is testament to the level of demand for good quality offices both in business parks and town centre locations.

“We are still experiencing a ‘flight to quality’ and companies are seeking the right size. Headline rentals in South Manchester are holding firm, although lease incentives are increasing as landlords are looking to secure occupiers without delay to mitigate the impact of continuing deterioration of the UK economy.”

MOAF was formed in 2009, and members include Avison Young, BE Group, CBRE, Colliers International, Canning O’Neill, Cushman & Wakefield, Edwards & Co, Hallam Property Consultants, JLL, Knight Frank, LSH, Matthews & Goodman, OBI, Savills, Sixteen, and TSG Property Consultants.

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