One to Watch 2014: Manchester
You donΓÇÖt have to go far to find positive stories about ManchesterΓÇÖs economy. It surprised experts by growing 2% in 2013 ΓÇô twice as much as their original predictions ΓÇô and has been described as “booming”, on account of the 40% increase in private sector jobs over the last few years.
According to the Greater Manchester Chambers of commerce, the service sector is the key driver for growth, although manufacturing is also making a significant contribution. ┬áUnsurprisingly, there is further economic growth forecast for 2014.
On the verge of a ΓÇ£once-in-a-centuryΓÇ¥ opportunity
With the economic outlook bright, the Government is in agreement that Manchester has an important role to play in the UKΓÇÖs recovery. Manchester was the only major city outside London to secure exemption from the new office-to-residential rules introduced in 2013, on the grounds that key enterprise zones within the city must be safeguarded in order to maximise their economic value.
Like Birmingham, another of our cities to watch in 2014, Manchester is making preparations for HS2, which will reduce journey times to London to just over an hour from Manchester Piccadilly (68mins) and just under an hour from Manchester airport (59mins).
In readiness for this new high-speed route, the council last year revealed plans for extensive regeneration of the area surrounding Manchester Piccadilly station which will include the creation of a new district called Piccadilly Central. According to the proposal, HS2 will be a ΓÇ£once-in-a-centuryΓÇ¥ opportunity for Manchester and is expected to bring 625,000 sq m of new commercial office space, 4,500 new homes and ΓÇ£a string of cultural and community use buildingsΓÇ¥.
The rise and rise of the creative industries in Manchester
Manchester has long been renowned as a creative city. As the digital and creative sector as a whole continues to experience high rates of growth (almost 10% in 2012) across the UK, Manchester is being reshaped by this rapid growth.
As officebrokerΓÇÖs Alastair Maloney pointed out in his predictions for the year ahead: ΓÇ£Manchester is also a key area to watch, from a more creative perspective. WeΓÇÖve certainly seen an increase in IT and design based companies looking for space here. Alongside this weΓÇÖve seen an increased demand for the more Google-inspired type of space, showing companies are willing to invest in the area. Serviced buildings have reacted to the demand, with Orega opening King Street this year, increasing the supply of more ΓÇ£funkyΓÇ¥ space within the city.ΓÇ¥
Moreover, these developments are not confined to traditional creative locations. Allied London is to develop office space for TMT companies on the final Spinningfields site; an area traditionally popular with the financial and professional services sector. By contrast, Allied LondonΓÇÖs new venture ΓÇô known as the Cotton Building ΓÇô is to create ten storeys of speculative creative space, designed to appeal to startups and small businesses as well as corporates.
According to Michael Ingall, CEO of Allied London, by helping to diversify the business community within this area of the city, the Cotton Building ΓÇ£represents the evolution of Spinningfields and workspace in Manchester.ΓÇ¥
Manchester ΓÇô competitive, affordable and thriving
Workspace in Manchester might be evolving, but it is already pretty diverse. In terms of serviced office space, Manchester has the highest number of business centres of any city centre outside Central London. This has meant not only a greater range of choice for businesses, but has also helped to ensure that serviced office prices remain competitive, despite the cityΓÇÖs thriving economy.
According to the latest officebroker data (soon to be published in full in our Serviced Office Reviews), in 2013 the average price per workstation per month was ┬ú248 in Manchester, making the city more affordable than Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Bristol. This combination of choice, affordability and a growing economy could give Manchester-based businesses a significant advantage in the year ahead.
On the map: key business locations to look out for:
- Spinningfields ΓÇô known as ManchesterΓÇÖs European Business District and popular with the financial and professional services sector. However, with the impending arrival of Allied LondonΓÇÖs Cotton Building, the creatives are moving in (see above).
- MediaCityUK, Salford ΓÇô home to the BBC, ITV and numerous other production studios; MediaCityUK has been praised as an outstanding example of a successful, regional digital cluster.
- Northern Quarter ΓÇô home to many of ManchesterΓÇÖs creative businesses and renowned for its village like atmosphere and bohemian vibe.
- Piccadilly Central ΓÇô it may not be built yet, but Piccadilly Central is set to be one of the up-and-coming areas of Manchester once construction work on HS2 gets underway.
How do you rate Manchester as a place to do business? Do you think the cityΓÇÖs prospects are bright for 2014?