January 27th, 2021
UrbInfo takes a look at some of the companies moving to or expanding in Manchester despite the pandemic.
Over 2 million sq.ft. of office space was submitted for planning in Manchester in 2020, signalling high confidence among commercial developers. Plot A3 at New Bailey was submitted to Salford City Council in November. 2020 was the most active year of the last decade for new office submissions in Manchester.
While the first half of 2020 may have looked bleak for the international property market - especially for offices - Manchester at least was sent into the New Year on a wave of positivity. The Manchester Office Agents Forum has recently reported that Q4 2020 was the most active quarter of last year for new office take-up transactions in the city, totalling 350,000 sq.ft. - 280,000 sq.ft. higher than during Q3 2020. However, they did also report that 2020 was the first time that office take-up in Manchester fell below 1 million sq.ft. for the first time since 2013.
In this article, we take a look at some of the companies moving to or expanding their operations within Manchester, creating new jobs and maintaining demand for office space. All announcements here have taken place within the last seven months, and have therefore likely been unaffected by the pandemic.
Towards the end of last year, BT announced they were establishing a new 175,000 sq.ft. office at Four New Bailey, in Salford's emerging business district. BT have stated that this will be a “key hub”, with more capacity for up to 2,000 staff – four times more than they have currently in the city. It plans to move workers in from late 2023. Over 400,000 sq.ft. of office space has completed in the New Bailey area since 2014, and the area is home to Eversheds Sutherland, BLM, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and WH Ireland. Over 800,000 sq.ft. of additional office space is proposed or under construction in the area, with space already let to HMRC among others.
AutoTrader already has a large presence in the city, establishing their hub at First Street in 2015. They recently announced plans to take 80,000 sq.ft. of space at Ask Real Estate's First Street Plot 9A - which was approved by Manchester City Council in April last year.
Other announcements include IT company Tech Mahindra, who have signed for 23,580 sq.ft. at MediaCity; the The Spanish Consulate, who have announced they will be opening a new hub in Spring Gardens in the city centre; and construction equipment and software specialist Hilti, who are moving to a new office in No.1 Circle Square when it completes this year.
The list continues, with the HM Courts & Tribunals Service establishing a new office at Metro in Salford Quays; Virgin Media, bringing 500 call-centre staff back to the UK with new offices in Teesside, Sheffield, Manchester and Birmingham; and holiday website Hoseasons, moving their headquarters to Manchester with 100 full time employees.
Manchester e-commerce success story The Hut Group have been on a major recruitment drive over the last two years. They are currently building a campus next to Manchester Airport with capacity for up to 9,000 employees - and have already created 2,000 new roles in the last 18 months. They also established a second office at MediaCity in 2019.
The city's tech sector continues to boom. Octopus Energy is creating 1,000 tech jobs nationally as part of an expansion that includes plans for a new tech hub in Manchester; London-based magazine publisher Holborn Media has opened an office in Manchester and is creating 11 jobs, while technology firm IMS (Insurance & Mobility Solutions) is recruiting around 50 staff at its Manchester and Crewe operations; and By Gamers For Gamers has moved its 20 staff to Use Space in central Manchester. Additionally, Manchester-based work tech firm Orka Technology Group is seeking to take on 30 staff over the next 12 months, effectively doubling its Manchester headcount. While cyber security firm Coalfire is to open a new headquarters and double headcount at City Tower.
In the property sector, investment company RW Invest has announced it will expand operations to Manchester, with 20 jobs initially but they plan to create 200 FT jobs in the city in the next five years, and Build-to-Rent operator Ascend plan to employ 50 more staff this year at their Manchester office.
University Campus of Football Business (UCFB) is planning a multimillion-pound investment in its Manchester campus and headquarters, creating 50 jobs; and Salford-based call centre, CallCare, is doubling its workforce and creating 400 jobs to keep pace with increased demand. Finally, OnBuy.com, the world’s fastest-growing marketplace, plans to open an office in Manchester in 2021, creating at least 100 jobs over a two-year period.
Nearly 700,000 sq.ft. of new office space completed in Manchester in 2020 - headed by English Cities Fund and Muse's Two New Bailey development, as well as Baring's Real Estate's Landmark office block on Oxford Street. A further 2.1 million sq.ft. of space is currently under construction across the city, according to data by UrbInfo.
Developer confidence also continues for new office development, over 2 million sq.ft. of space was submitted for planning during 2020, across 10 separate schemes. This made 2020 the most active year for new office submissions of the last decade, and just one of these developments - Speaker's House - was submitted before COVID began to make UK headlines. Plans for Plot A3 at New Bailey were the latest to be submitted, in November, featuring 173,000 sq.ft. of space in an impressive 15-storey green wall-clad building (article picture).
In total, over 7,000 new jobs have been announced for the city over the last seven months which will create roles in the city over the next two years. Despite many jobs lost, and many others in jeopardy due to the pandemic, this is at least some positive news for the city and demonstrates that companies are still investing in and expanding in the city and creating new jobs.
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