Leeds office space enquiries positive for Q3
With the first third of Q3 now complete, and Yorkshire in the news thanks to Headingley’s recent staging of the fourth 2009 Ashes series, here at officebroker.com we look further into the office space trends of Leeds – otherwise known as the UK’s ‘Knightsbridge of the North’.
Based on officebroker.com enquiry figures, the start of 2009’s second quarter saw a disappointing dip in enquiries for Leeds, with April producing the lowest figure of the year so far. But since then, the city has seen a steady rise in enquiries which has brought levels close to their peak in March.
The below graph shows the pattern that Leeds enquiry figures have taken from January – July 2009:
The slump at the beginning of Q2 is in line with other market reports, such as the second quarter review conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle at the end of July. Their research displayed a fall in demand for office space in Leeds during Q2, which they state is 40% less than the five-year quarterly average.
Possible reasons behind this low level of enquiries according to Jones Lang LaSalle are a rise in lease renewals, as a result of landlords offering appealing incentives and clients seeking to avoid the cost of moving.
Furthermore, as stated by Jeff Pearey, head of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Leeds office, the recession continues to sap business confidence:
“The continued uncertainty in the economy was reflected in sustained occupier caution during Quarter 2, resulting in low levels of office leasing activity. We expect occupier demand to continue to be low over the remainder of the year and any requirements that are in the market will take longer to be satisfied as occupiers defer property decisions.”
However in contrast to this, as shown by officebroker.com’s enquiry figures and the above graph, Leeds enjoyed a steady rise in enquiries throughout Q2 and into Q3. Furthermore, the start of Q3 has produced the year’s second highest set of enquiries so far, with enquiry figures for July up 20% over the monthly average for the first two quarters of 2009. This suggests that if the current trend is maintained, enquiries for the remainder of Q3 and beyond could produce a more positive set of results.
What makes Leeds such a first-rate location for businesses seeking office space?
For many years Leeds has been known as an established location for business, and one that is constantly striving for improvement through development and regeneration. Cushman and Wakefield’s 2008 European Cities Monitor, which scores cities based on a variety of factors to identify which are the best locations in Europe, rated Leeds first for value for money of offices.
The city is also considered one of the UK’s key financial centres outside of London, and an internationally competitive place which offers an affordable business environment, excellent transport links and availability of skilled staff.
Paul Rowe, officebroker.com consultant for Leeds, says that clients often choose the city when they are looking to expand into a new location:
“Leeds is considered a good place to expand to and an excellent base for business. I get a lot of enquiries from clients looking for a secondary location outside of their London office, and Leeds is a popular choice given its established transport links and accessibility.”
Furthermore, in a Leeds Occupier Survey conducted by Drivers Jonas last year, the majority of business respondents stated that the best aspects of Leeds were its proximity to their clients or their market, its central location, transport links, and being easy to find.
Location, location, location
The city’s accessibility is therefore currently considered one of its best assets. Situated alongside the M1 and M62 motorways, the city is within easy reach of the major business hubs of Liverpool and Manchester to the north-east, and Sheffield to the north. In addition, the shipping port of Hull is located to the east – giving Leeds a springboard effect which enables visitors to reach many different cities for business opportunities.
The city centre has a highly established internal transport network, with buses and trains serving points around the city and into the suburbs. The local bus network connects the two universities – the University of Leeds and the Leeds Metropolitan University – to the city, enabling students to better reach and experience the business side of the city, as well as providing easy access for companies to utilise the universities’ business and conference facilities.
As one of the UK’s largest financial and business service centres, Leeds boasts a high density of loyal businesses, with many valuing the city centre for its vibrancy, innovative office space, and financial presence as well as its accessibility.
According to Drivers Jonas’ survey last year, just 2% of businesses stated that they were considering a move away from the city. Of those that felt the need to move offices, the key motive was expansion and the need for additional accommodation.
‘Live it’ and ‘Love it’
The report claimed that Leeds is promoted as a city where you can ‘live it’ and ‘love it’ – a sentiment that also appears to carry through into its business community. 87% of Drivers Jonas’ respondents claimed that it was a ‘happy’ place to work, and one respondent stated that one of the best aspects of being in Leeds was “being part of a vibrant dynamic city.”
The report also stated that 89% of all businesses had their head office in Leeds, and a quarter of all respondents had been located in the city centre for over 25 years, indicating that a large proportion of businesses based in the city were happy with their environment, on both a personal and a commercial level.
One respondent stated that they considered Leeds a “major financial capital”, and attributes this as one of their key reasons for being based in the city.
In support of the city’s financial importance, officebroker.com’s Paul Rowe says that the city attracts a mixture of industries, but business service firms such as those from the finance and legal sector make up a significant percentage:
“Leeds attracts a mixture of companies, but enquiries from financial firms and solicitors are probably the most common, based on the city’s key financial centre. I’ve found that recruitment companies are also keen to move there.”
If you’re from the financial, legal or recruitment industry, or you’re part of any other business sector seeking office space in Leeds, start searching and comparing offices via our website at officebroker.com. For pricing information and to get help securing your chosen office, contact our specialist Leeds consultant Paul for free, expert and localised advice.