Research highlights ‘first signs of change’ in Scottish occupier strategy

Peter Fraser

NEW research by real estate advisor Avison Young has revealed Scotland is seeing the first signs of a change in occupier strategy.

The firm released its latest quarterly Big Nine office market update, covering Q1 2022. The review shows the take-up in the regional office occupier markets in the UK.

After a ‘strong’ finish to 2021, activity in Edinburgh city centre slowed slightly with take-up amounting to 95,543 square foot in Q1 2022. However, this equated to a 28% increase on Q1 2021 activity, when pandemic restrictions were in force.

In Glasgow, total take-up during Q1 2022 in the city centre was 82,270 sq ft – an increase of 34& on Q1 2021.

Peter Fraser, director at Avison Young Edinburgh, said, “While activity slowed in the capital after an extremely strong finish to 2021, the office market is in a much better place than this time last year. Interestingly, much of our previous predictions about a change in occupier strategy are now starting to bear out. While staff are on the way back to the office in ever increasing numbers, we know from our conversations with many occupiers that the hybrid workplace is here to stay.

“A lot of businesses are beginning to downsize and provide greater weighting to the quality of the space to ensure staff are happy in their working environment, as we saw in the latest quarter where only three deals over 10,000 sq ft completed. Facilities like wellness spaces and changing facilities have increased in importance, with the intention of making the office more of a destination rather than just a workspace.”

Alison Taylor, MD of Avison Young Glasgow, commented, “Whilst the shift to hybrid continues, we are finding employers are adjusting their business strategies to ensure they are able to offer staff the workplace of the future. The expansion of flexible space in the city is welcome given the number of smaller office requirements being witnessed at present. It’s important as a city that we can give fledging companies space to grow.

Alison Taylor

“At the same time, with the development pipeline eroding, the city is crying out for the next phase of speculative offices to satisfy those companies strategising for best-in-class space. Clearbell’s acquisition of 150 St Vincent St in December 2021 is not only a display of investor confidence in the city but will transition a 1970’s envelope into an inspiring new sustainable workspace of the future.”