Commercial property landlord and developer Orbit Developments said today that the company had exceeded pre-pandemic levels of office leasing with a very strong end to 2021 and customers – including large organisations and corporates – actively looking to return to their office spaces.
The leasing giant saw the amount of lettings virtually halve in the height of the pandemic during 20/21, but has seen a remarkable recovery.
Figures released today showed office take-up for South Manchester in Jan-Dec 2019 was 208,303 sq ft, significantly more than the pandemic year of 2020 when it dropped to 123,340 sq ft, but in 2021 lettings are back in rude health with 245,195 sq ft of office take up across the area.
Orbit’s Managing Director Tony Jones commented: “The market has generally remained pretty resilient despite the impact of the second lockdown at the start of 2021 and, more recently, the measures brought in to tackle Omicron.”
He continued: “Customers are telling us that they value the role physical offices play in ensuring business success and staff wellbeing and, while we know the way in which they use the space will change and evolve, they are looking at planned returns. It is good news.”
It was also a massively positive final few months of the year in terms of general activity and deals completed for Orbit – almost 180,000 sq ft of lettings was delivered across a diverse range of property including retail, industrial, office and leisure, with retail leading the recovery charge.
Tony Jones again: “Out of town and high street retail has come back a lot stronger than we could have expected with customers returning in numbers to large outdoor retail parks and retailers following the trend. Many have either renewed existing leases or taken space in new units.
“Restaurants have also clocked the higher shopper traffic and started to gravitate towards the out of town locations. Thai restaurant Nam Poly has just taken a unit at Middlebrook in Bolton at 6,104 sq ft.
In a separate move GDK (German Donner Kebab) has given St Helen’s high street a lift by taking 3,650 sq ft at Linkway West in the town centre.
Big names also investing in out of town include Pure Gym in Orbit’s Macclesfield Silk Road development (9,720 sq ft), Decathlon taking a significant new lease at Middlebrook (22,174 sq ft), Screwfix taking new trade counter units at Academy Business Park, Knowsley (5494 sq ft), and Citygate in Sale seeing the arrival of both Tool Station (4,467 sq ft) and Howdens (6,232 sq ft).
Flooring giants Unilin have also created a sizeable footprint at Academy Business Park (110,000 sq ft) and cardiac diagnosis experts at Venturi Cardiology have moved in at 4 The Square in Birchwood (2,475 sq ft).
Fast-growing e-commerce specialists Shopblocks have taken office space at 1 St Peter’s Square, (5673 sq ft) and global software engineering business Mobica has been retained in Crown House, Wilmslow (5,135 sf ft).
Wilmslow is a suburban community which continues to benefit from the trend towards more local shopping and entertaining and is out-performing larger covered retail shopping centres.
Tony concluded: “It is a buoyant picture. We will continue to work closely with customers across our portfolio to meet their needs in 2022 and help them deliver the best possible letting solution they can for their businesses.”