With an active market, Gary Jeffries, Hughes Ellard’s managing director, pauses for breath to look at the latest commercial property trends on the Solent corridor.
Well, the sun rises and sets and the commercial world still turns…
Whilst the commercial property sector took a pounding globally and regionally from the big bang credit crunch five years ago, business has regained some semblance of normality.
Certainly at Hughes Ellard, with 22 highly motivated staff, the level of instructions on office, industrial and retail has been consistently trending upwards as confidence and investment regain tentative traction.
Office take-up, for example, was poised to reach 27,871 sq m (300,000 sq ft) for the M27 corridor last year – higher that than the 10-year average of 23,226 sq m (250,000 sq ft).
The Southampton hinterland, previously in the doldrums post-2008, has been the main beneficiary, while Portsmouth and Fareham had the lion’s share of newly let space in 2011.
We were active in 26 office deals (occupational sales and lettings) from Q3 2011 to Q3 2012, with the latest one being 490 sq m (5,276 sq ft) on the first floor of the northern wing of Delme Place at Cams Hall business park, Fareham.
Meanwhile 2013 begun strongly for us as well with the owner-occupier acquisition of a vacant 951 sq m (10,239 sq ft) office at Chandler’s Ford; the building is to be completely refurbished.
In that deal, the client instructed us on a search-and-acquisition for the right HQ nearly five years ago.
A dearth of quality office space in and around Southampton is therefore driving new demand from expanding companies wanting the best working environment for their staffs.
The industrial sector is facing its own challenges – the supply of modern buildings is at an all-time low, which is causing difficulties for large distribution and logistics companies and boxing them in on expansion.
Demand is out there, for sure, with owner-managed business seeking freehold property.
The squeeze on industrial availability is, by the same token, relatively healthy for the property industry - we are seeing signs of rental growth and the ability to pre-let buildings to stimulate new development.
But, as mentioned, there is little room in the inn. A case in point is the latest industrial deal we acted as joint agent on – a 3,252 sq m (35,000 sq ft) industrial unit at Titchfield Park has been let to Meggitt Avionics, which also renewed leases for three existing units.
This means the 11,305 sq m (121,690 sq ft) park is fully occupied, creating even more occupier pressure elsewhere.
Whilst there have been some high street casualties of late, such as HMV, Jessops and Comet, we have seen little but growth for our retail clients at Hughes Ellard, with shopping centres across the region doing the business.
The shopping centres at the Swan in Eastleigh and Port Solent, where we are leasing agents, have both recorded a growth in visitor numbers, which in turn is generating tenancy interest. Indeed, Port Solent has 95% tenancy occupancy, with 300,000 visitors on average a month.
These confident figures are underlined by the fact that, through our retail ‘guru’, director Tim Clark, the 20-unit Rams Walk shopping centre in Petersfield is fully occupied thanks to two lettings to Crew Clothing and Moshulu, following the departure of Millets and Jessops, in the run-up to Christmas.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the commercial world continues to turn, and strongly in many cases.
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