Bristol in national spotlight as tech drives employment growth in the UK’s cities

Martin Booth, Offices Agency Partner at Knight Frank in Bristol

Employment in the technology sector is set to rise across the UK regional cities by 16% over the next 10 years, says leading real estate adviser Knight Frank.

The firm’s inaugural ‘Future of our Cities’ report reveals that TMT has dominated take-up in the first three quarters of 2019, accounting for 23% of the market, with Bristol ahead of the national average.

And Bristol’s role as a key city for investment was highlighted to the UK’s leading property investors at a launch held at The Gherkin in the City of London. Martin Booth, head of the office agency team at Knight Frank’s Bristol office, was part of a forum of experts that presented key commercial property topics to a 150-strong audience that included the country’s top pension funds, property companies and developers.

He said: “Over the last five years in Bristol the technology, media and telecom sector – TMT – has stood shoulder to shoulder with professional services, responsible for a quarter of all take-up.

“Bristol has seen significant growth in the number of tech companies starting small and growing big very rapidly in the city, such as Graphcore, Ultraleap and Cookpad.”

Martin Booth added that overall Bristol was appealing strongly to national investors. “At the moment there is significant interest in the Bristol commercial property market, which is standing out against other main UK cities because its office supply / demand imbalance is offering very positive rental growth opportunities.” he said.

The inaugural Knight Frank’s ‘Future of our Cities’ report looks at the key themes impacting 10 of the UK’s regional office markets; Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

Bristol was one of the hotspots for TMT in 2019, higher than in London, where TMT accounted for 21% of take-up, highlighting the growth of the sector outside of the capital.

Darren Mansfield, Partner in Knight Frank’s Commercial Research team, comments: “The influence of the technology sector on the economic fortunes of the UK continues to grow. Since 2002, the economic output from tech industries has grown significantly, with further upward trajectory forecast for the next ten years.

“This picture of growth is mirrored in the scale of demand for office space being acquired across the UK. The sector representation in the UK’s regional cities has grown considerably from 15% to 23% in the past four years.”

Alastair Graham-Campbell, Partner in the Capital Markets team, comments: “Growth on this scale across the UK will generate new requirements and sustain current occupational footprints throughout the next decade.

“Significantly, the definition of the technology sector now extends beyond information, computation and internet-based media. It includes fledgling growth companies pursuing technological innovation, and is widened by the derivatives of the traditional sectors, such as professional services and banking. No longer regarded as just a back-office function, IT forms an essential part of the principle service being provided.”