Investment in Edinburgh commercial property surges ahead of last year

Investment in Edinburgh’s commercial property market has already exceeded last year’s total, as investors continue to show interest in the city despite the challenging economic backdrop, according to figures from Knight Frank.

The independent commercial property consultancy’s analysis of RCA data found that £596 million of commercial property has changed hands in the year to date in Scotland’s capital, up on the £555 million during the entirety of 2022.

Investment in retail property has soared by nearly 70% to £170 million from £102 million last year, and is on track for its best 12 months since 2017. Among the retail assets in Edinburgh to trade hands during 2023 are Craigleith Retail Park and Corstorphine Retail Park.

Offices have been the biggest source of deal activity, with £189 million of assets trading so far – broadly on track to match last year’s £255 million. Argyle House, the well-known brutalist office block below Edinburgh Castle, was sold this year in one of the city’s biggest office deals of 2023.

Hotels have also been an active sector in Edinburgh, with £114 million worth of deals. The figure is the second highest in the last five years, after 2021’s £196 million. A deal for Edinburgh’s Waldorf Astoria was announced in July and several properties on St Andrews Square have been purchased for redevelopment to hotels.

Institutional buyers have been behind 41% of investment volumes in the city during 2023 to date, with international investors representing another 37%. Edinburgh accounts for around 46% of total investment in Scottish commercial property so far this year.

Alasdair Steele, head of Scotland commercial at Knight Frank, said: “Commercial property investment volumes in most UK cities have fallen on the back of rising interest rates and the attractive returns available on cash and safe assets, like bonds. But, Edinburgh’s investment market has remained resilient, with deal activity already exceeding last year.

“Part of the reason for that is the compelling fundamentals the city continues to offer. The occupier market has remained strong throughout the challenges of the last few years, with limited development sites and office space being converted to other uses. The hotel market has bounced back from lockdown and the city’s retail stock is also adjusting to a period of change.

“With a number of assets currently on the market and buyer and seller expectations increasingly moving closer together, all things being equal, we could see a flurry of deals in the city before the end of the year and a positive start to 2024.”