MOAF: office take up stabilises as lockdown eases

Pacific House, the largest deal done this quarter.

The city recorded 220,183 sq ft of lease transactions in the second quarter of 2021, taking the year to date figure to 454,441 sq ft, according to the latest figures from the Manchester Office Agents Forum.

Key city centre transactions in Q2 2021 included Instant Group taking 33,374 sq ft at 58 Mosely Street; Castore signing up to 22,085 sq ft at One Central, Whispering Smith taking 23,702 sq ft at 274 Deansgate and AutoTrader taking 16,824 sq ft at One Tony Wilson Place.

The quarterly figures remain significantly lower than those prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which sat at 370,000 sq ft in the 3 years prior to 2020. However, there has been a notable return of larger deals with 6 completions above 20,000 sq ft in the first half of 2021, compared with only 7 in the previous full year.

South Manchester’s office market continued to show resilience with take up climbing up to 117,535 sq ft, up from 92,797 sq ft the previous quarter. The most notable transaction in the area being Mitie’s 33,567 sq ft letting at Pacific House at Atlas Business Park.

Salford Quays and Old Trafford second quarter figures dipped to 35,820 sq ft in Q2, down from 66,877 sq ft the previous quarter with Tech Mahindra’s 16,220 sq ft expansion at The Vic accounting for nearly half of the space taken during that period.

Warrington recorded take up at 57,320 sq ft for Q2, down from a figure of 83,458 sq ft in Q1. The lettings to Chester University who acquired 15,100 sq ft at Time Square in Warrington and the purchase of 21 Bridge Road by Park 1 Limited were the largest recorded deals.

A spokesperson for MOAF commented: “There is little surprise that we saw a relative plateau in the take up in Q2 given post-Christmas lockdown and many occupiers are still trying to find their feet and look at the best way of working and the size, type and location of space they need to futureproof their businesses. The city centre deals to Instant, Castore, Whispering Smith and AutoTrader demonstrate continued confidence in the market and, having already seen an uptick in enquiries and requirements in Q2, we expect this will translate into an increase in deals in the second half of the year.”

MOAF comprises 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.