Avison Young in London - City
Avison Young has been operating in London’s West End and City since 2014. The City of London, known as the ‘City,’ is a significant part of Central London and is one of the 33 local authority districts of Greater London. Known also as the Square Mile owing to its area of 1.2 sq miles, it became the heart of the financial services sector throughout the 19th century, and continues to be so today. The City has a resident population of over 7,000 but this expands to over 450,000 when including the daily commuters employed in the City. This represents 1.5% of the U.K.’s total employment, meaning more than 1 in 100 of the U.K.’s workforce are employed in the City (Business Register and Employment Survey, September 2016). The Avison Young City office is situated in Old Jewry, close to the Bank of England.
Avison Young UK's advice-led solutions deliver value across the breadth of commercial property services.
User / Occupier
We recognise that for most occupiers, the property burden represents the second highest cost and tends to be the biggest contingent liability. Therefore, we focus on helping occupiers create property and workplace solutions that improve performance, increase competitiveness, adapt to changing markets and provide the optimum workplace environment for their staff.
Owner / Investor
Our UK team adds value right through the property lifecycle, from acquisitions to disposals, in a wide variety of sectors including: offices, retail, industrial and alternative sectors. Our collaborative approach means we gain a more intimate understanding of the needs of owners and investors. As a result, we can provide customised advice that underpins intelligent and informed decisions.
London, the capital city of the United Kingdom, is a leading global city. It has the fifth-largest city economy in the world, after Tokyo, New York City, Los Angeles and Seoul, generating more than 20% of the UK’s GDP, and rising to approximately 30% if the greater metropolitan area is included.
As a global city, London is the headquarters of more than half of the UK’s largest listed companies (the “FTSE 100”), and approximately 100 of Europe’s 500 largest companies are headquartered in Central London, while 75% of Fortune 500 companies have offices in the city.
While serving as a leading financial centre, London has welcomed more than 480 overseas banks that have offices in the city, along with many other major professional services, media, tourism, technology and retail firms.
A key international transport hub, London has the world’s largest city airport system. As part of hosting the 2012 Olympics, significant investment was made in London’s transport infrastructure. This investment continues with major rail transport projects including Crossrail which is due to open in 2018.
The UK’s decision to leave the European Union in June 2016 had an impact across the whole market, with the London office market in particular feeling the immediate effects of the resultant economic uncertainty. However, both the occupational and investment markets showed their resilience towards the end of the year 2016 with increased volumes of capital transactions and occupier take-up across the central London market.
Whilst these activity levels improved significantly in the final quarter of 2016, the run-up to the June referendum saw much reduced volumes so the 2016 totals were still some way behind the levels achieved in 2015.
Occupier take-up increased by 70% in the final quarter, but against this, supply increased by over 15% and as a result, vacancy rates across Central London as a whole increased to 6.1% -- a rise of 130 basis points in the year. Despite this, average rents continued to rise, by over 8% from 12 months ago. This upward trend meant that over the course of 2016, rents rose to a ten-year high in each of the major Central London sub-markets.
Overseas investors accounted for 49% of capital transactions in the central London office market in late 2016. Whilst this was a significant decrease on the previous quarter, the appeal of London remains strong and with the Pound remaining weak we expect that for the first half of 2017 at least, overseas buyers will continue to account for the lion’s share of investment.
Furthermore, those investors who held their nerve and continued to invest in the UK during a very uncertain period immediately post-referendum are likely to reap handsome rewards.
Due to the growth of online shopping, in many areas retail occupiers are struggling to compete. As a consequence, much of the U.K. retail sector is still seeing falling rents and high vacancy rates. However, with London shops being such a magnet for international visitors, there is a very different story here. London is a major retail centre and has among the highest non-food retail sales of any city in the world. Demand for retail space is strong; there is persistent upward pressure on rental rates; and sales, leasing and development activity remains robust.
The UK’s warehouse logistics sector has seen extraordinary demand from internet retailers, 3pls and manufacturers, including Amazon, JLR, Hermes, Aldi and Ikea amongst others.
The Midlands Golden Triangle (M1, M6, M42) has continued to be the dominant warehouse location for the UK and has seen rents increase to £6.50 psf.
Following a record total Grade A take up of 13,265,050 square feet, for units above 100,000 sf in 54 buildings with an average size of 245,650 sf in 2016 some 600 plus acres need to be replaced in the planning system which is currently not meeting demand.
There is, however, a shortage of Grade A industrial and warehouse space, which will lead to further speculative development and design-and-build solutions.
The UK commercial property market has shown exceptional performance since the low of the market in 2009. The strong underlying fundamentals of the property market has led to an investment market characterised by strong demand and poor supply. This combination of weight of money-seeking opportunities and lack of available product in the market has led to strong competition and inevitably sharp yield compression. £48.9bn was invested in UK commercial property in 2016, 10% above the 10 year average. The office sector remained the dominant sector with a 43% share of all investment. Industrial investment totalled £5.8bn, equal to a seven-year high of 12% share. London’s average office yield was 4.37% in the second half of 2016, up from 4.15% in the first half of the year.
The UK investment market has also been characterised in recent years by a large inflow of overseas money, with a mixture of sovereign wealth, institutions, private equity, high net worth individuals and local authorities; in fact 2016 saw local authorities spend £1.5bn, more than the last six years combined. The UK commercial property market is continuing to deliver good performance driven by strong investor demand and is backed up by a growing economy and an occupational market which is showing some signs of improvement. The outlook for the next year remains positive as we see no reason for the international inflow of capital into the UK market to slow. There is the potential for further downward yield compression as 10 year gilt yields remain close to historic lows, although performance will be increasingly driven by rental growth fundamentals moving forward.