The UK 5: Office Market Snapshot 2023

We are pleased to share with you our latest publication, The UK 5. This report brings to you a review of the 5 largest regional city office markets around the UK: Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, and Manchester. Our analysis covers leasing trends, office supply, leasehold prime rents and flexible office pricing in each of the UK 5 cities. Our insights team also offer an outlook as how to these trends will influence market dynamics in the remainder of 2023 and heading into the new year.

The rise in hybrid working arrangements is reshaping the demands of today’s workplaces. As requirements evolve with greater emphasis on flexibility and rationalisation of space, leasing trends will shift focus more on location, quality, cost and type of space. One such trend is a greater tenant appreciation for flexible office solutions. An uptick in existing and new flexible office providers setting up centres in regional hubs is seeing an influx of options offering tenants newfound flexibility and choice.

DeVono’s Head of Insights, Shaun Dawson states, “Activity across the UK 5 has proved to be a mixed bag of activity so far in 2023, whilst leasing activity is up in Birmingham, Glasgow, and Leeds, we see a dip in Bristol and Manchester. However, one element that has been consistent across all markets is the upward pressure on prime rents, buoyed by demand for the best spaces and in some cases a squeeze on supply – a trend that is likely to persist throughout 2024.”

The office market landscape varies from city-to-city, explore each of those differences.

· Leasing activity up, boosted by the education sector
· Available Grade A space is squeezed further
· Prime rents remain at a five-year high
· Development pipeline to stimulate tenant demand

· Leasing levels take a dive in H1 ‘23
· Average size of leasing deal halves to 3,229 sq ft
· The Eastern Fringe submarket attracts the most leasing activity
· Prime rents stand at £42.50 per sq ft, the highest of the cities

· Uplift in leasing across Q2 ’23 buoys H1 leasing levels
· Take-up continues to be almost entirely confined to the City Core
· Tech sector leads tenant demand in H1
· Prime rents remain at £36.00 per sq ft

· Leasing renaissance in Leeds leads to a 61% uplift in H1 ‘23
· Financial sector drives tenant leasing
· Share of Grade A availability has increased in 2023 to a new high
· Prime rents have increased to £37.00 per sq ft

· Dip in leasing activity has seen fewer transactions in H1 ‘23
· Tech firms have been the most active sector leasing
· A decline in Grade A supply to be propped up by more development
· Prime rents now up to £40.00 per sq ft

Shaun Dawson concludes “As we approach 2024, there is a prevailing sense of improving business confidence, compared to the sluggish start to the year. This optimism is poised to fuel demand for office space in our regional cities, opting for spaces that reflect the evolved nature of workplace strategies – embracing flexibility, sustainability efficiency in their real estate.”