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Knight Frank


Knight Frank West End capital markets team has acquired the freehold interest of 25-27 Oxford Street for £35.5 million, on behalf of a Hong Kong listed company (HKEX 0163).

The 11,600 sq ft property is arranged over lower ground, ground and six upper floors, and is multi-let to a range of retail and office occupiers.

The building is located in a key position on the south side of Oxford Street next to the Tottenham Court Road Crossrail site, and is set to benefit from strong forecast rental growth off the back of the significant infrastructure improvements.

Knight Frank and Mayer Brown acted for the purchaser. The vendor was unrepresented.


The owners of a thriving car body repair business have purchased new, larger industrial premises at Cardiff Business Park in Cardiff.

Alistair and Susan Hoy, who founded the ChipsAway franchise in Tremorfa in 2010, have bought Unit 20 Lambourne Crescent to enable them to expand their business and provide facilities for more advanced equipment.

ChipsAway has built a strong reputation in the city for providing high quality repairs to car paintwork scratches, bumper scuffs, alloy wheels, and dents to car body work.  Ali Hoy said: “We employ the latest techniques and use the most environmentally-friendly products in our repairs. Things are going very well and we have established a large client base.

“This acquisition is an investment for the future and will enable us to continue to grow.”

The unit was sold by Envitech whose managing director Jim Pickering said: “For many years our company has been primarily a distributor for water and waste water monitoring equipment made abroad, but has developed a manufacturing base in Wales and hence ran out of space at the Llanishen unit.

“Expansion to a new 10,000 sq ft premises at the Wentloog Capital Business Park brings exciting new capacity to develop a specialised environmental manufacturing facility within Wales.”

Commercial property consultant Knight Frank advised vendors Envitech SSAS on the sale of the 2,993 sq ft industrial unit. Neil Francis, partner in Knight Frank’s industrial agency, said: “It’s not often that the opportunity arises to purchase one of the units in this very popular location, so Ali and Susan have done well to secure such a good base for their company’s future growth.”


James Roberts, Knight Frank’s Chief Economist, has made the following comments regarding the General Election results:

The slender parliamentary majority means the commercial property industry should expect air pockets caused by political uncertainty.

As per usual the opinion polls got it wrong, and the Conservative party has won the election with a small majority. This is a far better result than the fractured Parliament of shifting coalitions we were led to expect.

There is good reason to now suppose the UK economy, that appeared to slow in the run-up to the election, can now resume a strengthening recovery. This will be good news for both the commercial leasing and investment markets.

However, there remains a great deal of political uncertainty as a result of the earthquakes that occurred overnight. These will influence but not derail the property market.

Firstly, the SNP’s overwhelming victory has put the existence of the Union back on the political agenda. Last year there was a brief slowdown in activity in the Scottish market in the run-up to the referendum, which may be replicated in a future poll. This comes with the caveat that some investors actually saw last year’s referendum as an opportunity to buy.

Secondly, a Conservative majority increases the chances of a referendum on European Union membership. If the prospect of Scottish independence caused a market slowdown, the idea of the UK leaving the EU will surely do the same, probably on a greater scale. Either a Tory backbench rebellion against the Bill or a vote sooner rather than later may be the best outcome.

Thirdly, the UK’s deficit remains large, but if the Conservatives only have a slender majority they may struggle to force the necessary cuts through Parliament. If the financial markets suspect that not enough is being done to balance the books, sterling could fall in value. This will initially make UK commercial property look attractive to overseas money, but inflationary pressures would increase and bring closer the day that interest rates rise.

Over the next five years, we believe this climate of political uncertainty will at times cause market confidence to drain away temporarily. Some investors may decide to wait until after an upcoming referendum before buying; some occupiers might shelve expansion plans because a sudden fall or rise in sterling hits profits.

In short, we should expect the odd air pocket ahead, but overall the election outcome was probably much better for commercial property than one would have expected 24 hours ago.


Prime office rents in London’s square mile are higher now than at their peak level in 2007 when the global financial crisis began, according to new research from Knight Frank.

City office rents at the end of Q1 stood at £65.00 per sq ft, compared £63.50 per sq ft in Q3 2007, around the time queues were forming outside branches of Northern Rock Bank.

This is due to a combination of rising demand, falling supply, and diversification in the occupier base.

Demand for offices reached 9.3 m sq ft in the 12 months to the end of March, compared to a ten year average of 6.8 m sq ft. The demand figure for 2007 was 8.4 m sq ft.

Demand for Q1 was 1.9 m sq ft, the eighth consecutive quarter of above average performance.

There was 6.8 m sq ft of available office space on the market at the end of the quarter, down from 10.0 m sq ft a year ago.

Compared to back in 2007, the City office market is now seeing more activity from non-financial firms. Major deals during the quarter included tenants like HP, Expedia, and TAG Worldwide. The traditional City occupiers were still in the market though, with deals by Deloitte, Deutsche Bank and Investec.

Commenting on the figures, Dan Gaunt, head of City office leasing, Knight Frank, said: “Given this landlord-friendly scenario of diminishing supply and above average demand, we see rents rising further. Prime rents could draw close to £70.00 per sq ft by year end, if the economy growth continues at its current pace.”

James Roberts, Chief Economist at Knight Frank, said: “The City is now less exposed to finance. Back in 2007, technology, media and creative firms accounted for around 14% of office deals in the City, but it has more than doubled now to nearly 30%.”


Skyscraper prime office rents in New York have dramatically increased by 20% to hit $150.00 per sq ft since July 2014, outperforming the leading Asian skyscraper city, Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong still boasts the world’s highest skyscraper office rents at $250.50 per sq ft.

The figures were reported in the latest Skyscraper Index from Knight Frank and Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, which ranks the world’s cities as centres for high rise offices and homes.

New York rental values have boomed as skyscraper development has increased, with towers proving popular workplaces for the expanding digital and creative firms in the city, as well as financial and professional firms.

However, Hong Kong’s large lead in rents reflects a low vacancy rate and constrained CBD area.

William Beardmore-Gray, head of global leasing services at Knight Frank, said: ““A high quality office environment is an essential part of building a business. With the economy improving, firms want offices that provide an inspiring place to work and demonstrate they value their employees.”

“Today the rent paid on an office workstation is usually less than the fee paid to a head hunter to replace a person who leaves. So companies want to use their offices as a way to make staff feel they are valued and important. You achieve that when you put workers in the building that appears as the backdrop during the stock market report on the evening news.”

James Roberts, chief economist at Knight Frank, said: “We are now seeing the western cities erode the lead of big Asian centres in tower office rents. For premium floors with views rents are rising in Hong Kong, but they are increasing much faster in New York. Similarly London is closing the gap on Tokyo.”

“Economic growth prospects for this year favour locations like New York and London, so I see these cities stepping up competition on the Asian centres. Many people like to say that the balance in the global economy is shifting from west to east, but certainly skyscraper rents provide another indicator that shows this is not entirely the case.”


TV production company Rondo Media has taken offices in South Gate House in Wood Street, Cardiff.

The company has taken a five year lease on 4,266 sq ft of office space on the 9th Floor of Southgate House.  Landlord Euranglo was advised by Knight Frank, and Rondo by Anthony Philips Commercial Property.

Rondo Media is Wales’s third largest independent production company, with offices in Caernarfon, Menai Bridge and Cardiff. The company produces sport, drama, music, events, factual and entertainment content.

Productions include popular twice-weekly S4C youth drama series Rownd a Rownd, BBC 1 drama The Indian Doctor, S4C sport series Clwb, Channel 4 series My Tattoo Addiction, coverage of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod for S4C and the BBC and the celebrity cookery format Pryd o Sêr.

Rondo chief executive officer Gareth Williams said: “”This move marks an important development for our company. Rondo is the first independent production company to locate in this area which will also be the new home for BBC Wales. It’s an exciting time for the creative industries in Wales and there are great opportunities for media companies here with network broadcasters needing to meet regional production quotas. But we need to keep the momentum going and collaborate as much possible with the broadcasters as well as other media companies. ”

Mark Sutton, partner in the offices agency team at Knight Frank in Cardiff, said: “South Gate House has seen a flurry of activity in recent months and an increasing level of interest which we have converted into seven new lettings representing a total of 22,500 sq ft let since June 2013. Just one suite now remains available to rent in the entire building.”

Recent new tenants have included the British Medical Association, Sea Marshals, WE Bridge International, Object Matrix, Phoenix Legal and Leisure Time.

Mark Sutton added: “The building’s proximity to transport hubs and the anticipated development that will follow on from the relocation of BBC makes a compelling location story for occupiers like Rondo.

Gareth Williams added: “It will be like having a media village in the heart of the city.”


IT and business services provider, FDM Group (‘FDM’), has agreed to take 17,159 sq ft of space at No1 Whitehall Riverside in the largest office letting to conclude in Leeds so far this year.

FDM has signed a ten year lease on the entire fifth floor at a rental of £26.00 per sq ft.

David Hidderley of landlord NFU Mutual welcomes FDM to No1 Whitehall Riverside on the back of the letting to Handelsbanken and who took occupation last month.

Sheila Flavell, COO at FDM commented: “No 1 Whitehall Riverside is ideal for our needs; it is a high profile building with a lot of space, enabling FDM to expand the business in Leeds in order to continue servicing our very established and growing client base in the area.”

Richard Thornton, from joint agents JLL who advised the landlord, added: “No1 Whitehall Riverside provides the largest floor plates immediately available in Leeds which, along with the recent £150K refurbishment of the office entrance, is reaping dividends.  This iconic building offers prime Grade A space and, at a time of diminished city centre office stock, has capitalised on occupier’s ‘flight to quality’.”

Eamon Fox of joint agent Knight Frank concluded “There is only 9,000 sq ft available to let in the building and with the interest we have fully endorses NFU’s investment in the building.”


The Cardiff office of Knight Frank has strengthened its Building Consultancy team with the appointment of Lewis Jones.

He joins as graduate building surveyor from Ball & Co in Penarth.

Lewis, who is 25, gained his building surveying degree at University West of England, and a Masters degree at the University of Glamorgan and South Wales.

Richard Wooller, who heads the Knight Frank Building Consultancy division in Cardiff, said: “Our Cardiff team continues to grow as a result of the positive outlook for the South Wales property market. We are delighted to have recruited Lewis to assist us with that growth. ”

Lewis Jones lives in Pontypridd.  His hobbies include sport and travelling.


The regeneration plan for West Bar in the city centre is back on track after new developers were announced. The £250m newly named West Bar Square project will be developed by Urbo Regeneration – following the signing of a series of legal agreements this week.

Delivering more than 600,000 sq ft of prime office space and providing jobs for up to 5,000 workers, West Bar Square is expected to become a premier business destination in Sheffield. The main advantage of the site is its ability to provide large office buildings of the type required today by major occupiers and inward investors in an accessible, attractive and lively setting.

The masterplan, designed by Urbo’s award winning team 5plus architects and Urbed, has been created working closely with project partners Sheffield City Council to ensure the completed scheme will form a distinctive new extension of Sheffield City Centre.

The proposed office blocks will focus around the new West Bar Square, a major landscaped space comparable to Millennium Square and St Pauls Place in scale, linking the Cathedral Quarter to the Riverside, surrounded by cafes, shops, restaurants, a hotel and apartments.

Previous proposals for West Bar, a former industrial area which is bordered by the inner ring road at Corporation Street and Bridge Street, were drawn up more than six years ago by developer Castlemore; however the project stalled when they were placed in administration during the recession.

Regeneration specialist Urbo has been working for more than two years with Sheffield City Council and Castlemore’s administrators PwC to resurrect the development. Together, they have established a clear masterplan vision for the Riverside Business District, which identifies West Bar Square as Sheffield City Centre’s largest and most flexible office development site for major inward investors.

In contrast to the previous scheme, which featured three tall towers, the new West Bar Square now has a design that is more in scale with surrounding townscape and the needs of modern businesses.

The delivery of the development has now been secured by the new partnership which combines the existing land-holdings of the Council, Urbo and the previous developer.

Site clearance for West Bar Square is expected to begin shortly alongside a new planning application with a view to construction beginning in 2016 once occupiers are found for West Bar Square’s first office buildings.

Work will also begin in April on a £2.5million investment in the first phase of the ‘Grey to Green’ project which will create a new gateway to the City Centre adjacent to West Bar Square and the area in front of the Law Courts. The project will transform half a kilometre of redundant former ring road into pedestrian spaces, meadows and rain gardens.

Urbo’s Managing Director Peter Swallow said: “West Bar Square is a landmark development for Sheffield City Centre. It will not only deliver thousands of jobs during its construction phase and beyond, but establish Sheffield as a city for inward investment and one to do business with. The area has the right skills, people and infrastructure to ensure businesses that invest in West Bar Square thrive.

“We have worked tirelessly with Sheffield City Council to get this development resurrected and off the ground. Now we can now forge ahead with creating Sheffield’s premier business district.”

Cllr Leigh Bramall, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development said: “West Bar Square represents a very significant step forward in the regeneration of Sheffield’s Riverside Business District which is becoming a major area for new employment. It will bring long vacant sites into productive use and also link the growing new residential areas at Kelham Island and Wicker into the City Centre.”

BNP Paribas and Knight Frank have been appointed as joint agents for West Bar Square.


A multi-service transport company has tripled its capacity with a long term lease of a new depot in Bridgend.

Clarke Transport has relocated from Kenfig Industrial Estate to a 37,000 sq ft warehouse on a site of two acres at Central Park in Bridgend Industrial Estate to accommodate growing customer demand.

The transport company, which specialises in transporting non-temperature controlled chemicals, has signed a 15 year lease with landlords Robert Hitchins Ltd on the redeveloped site which is marketed by Knight Frank and Herbert R Thomas (HRT Commercial). It has also created six extra jobs with further recruitment planned.

The depot, which includes an office, warehouse and large yard for its fleet of vehicles was selected due to its close proximity to the M4 with most of the company’s clients being based between Swansea and Swindon.
The transport company appointed commercial agent HRT to source a new premises to accommodate its growing workforce as a result of the increase in customer demand.

Alun Jones, national projects manager at Clarke Transport, said: “Since opening our Welsh depot in 1999, we have experienced significant growth which has led to the need for additional space for our vehicles and staff. Central Park provided the perfect location, as many of our clients are based along the M4 corridor. We are a national company but have invested heavily in Wales with our relocation costing over £120,000, which was all self-funded. The 15 year lease of the property demonstrates our commitment to Wales and to Bridgend in particular.

“As a family run business, loyalty is extremely important to us and we are pleased to say that we have maintained 100 per cent employee retention during the relocation. We are delighted with the advice we received from John Jones at HRT Commercial, who understood what we were looking for and found us the ideal new premises.

“It’s an exciting time for the company, and not just in Wales, as we are also expanding across other areas in the UK.”

John Jones of HRT Commercial said: “Through conversations with Clarke Transport and the Landlord Robert Hitchins Limited, we were able to negotiate a deal that provided Clarke Transport with everything they required with additional space to continue to grow in the future.  It was challenging to find a facility in the Bridgend area that provided both the warehouse and yard space required and a lot of credit has to be given to both landlord and tenant for their foresight in facilitating the deal.”

Mark Durand of Robert Hitchins Limited commented: “The Clarke’s occupation represents the completion of the crucial first phase of the regeneration of the Former Kimball Electronics building and we are looking to modernise and bring back into use further parts of the building which is suitable for a range of business uses.”