Manchester Office Agents Forum sees gradual momentum

Redfern Building, NOMA

After an extremely challenging 2020 for everybody and the office sector, Q1 2021 has continued the gradual momentum being seen towards the end of Q4 2020, according to the Manchester Office Agents Forum (MOAF). Take up for Manchester’s city centre in Q1 2021 reached 234,258 sq ft over 42 transactions, although slightly below Q4 2020’s total of 349,513 sq ft, it continued the general recovery.

MOAF highlighted that this trend was mirrored in South Manchester where take up totalled 92,797 sq ft, in line with Q4 2020’s total of 94,838 sq ft and well above Q3 2020’s total of 39,174 sq ft. Salford Quays showed further signs of positivity where take up tallied to 66,877 sq ft up from Q4 2020’s total of 52,626 sq ft.

Notable transactions in the city centre included the Ministry of Justice taking 24,548 sq ft at the Redfern Building, NOMA, Orega taking 29,864 sq ft at Arkwright House, Parsonage Gardens and Brabners taking 20,239 sq ft at 100 Barbirolli.

Rhys Evans, associate director at JLL, said on behalf of MOAF: “Despite the third lockdown bringing an element of negativity to the start of the year, businesses have been quietly evolving over the past 12 months, forming new strategies on how they may occupy space, with sustainability, wellbeing and flexible working high on the agenda.

“There has been a notable increase in viewing activity over the past month, which, with the easing of lockdown restrictions on the horizon and an eagerness to reconnect with colleagues and work spaces again, we’re confident take-up will continue to improve moving forwards throughout the year. We’re seeing historic larger requirements in the market remerge with reduced sizes but with renewed certainty around the type of space they need.

“The recent letting to Grant Thornton is a prime example, with a desire for best in class space to inspire collaboration, innovation and overall user experience for staff and clients alike moving forwards. The new headline rent set for the city on this transaction is testament to the resilience of the Manchester market but also the flight to quality occupiers are now looking for. Grant Thornton took 13,143 sq ft at Landmark in January this year at a new headline rental of £38.50 per sq ft.”

Mark Bamber, partner at Knight Frank, said on behalf of MOAF: “The continued upturn in demand further illustrates occupier’s confidence returning and the desire of both employers and employees to return to the office as the lockdown continues to ease. We expect to see this continue throughout the year and as a result we expect to see demand increase further.”

The forum comprises the commercial property agencies Avison Young, BE Group, CBRE, Colliers International, Canning O’Neill, Cushman and Wakefield, Edwards and Co, Hallam Property Consultants, JLL, Knight Frank, LSH, Matthews & Goodman, OBI, Savills, Sixteen and TSG Property Consultants.