Business chiefs were given an unusually upbeat overview of Bristol’s fast improving commercial prospects at a high powered business breakfast briefing organised by Colliers International.
With positive economic indicators across all sectors the Broad Quay-based commercial property specialists said now was the time to invest and expand in the city.
The third business breakfast organised by valuations expert Abby Pugh was attended by around fifty business people who were given a detailed breakdown on the UK’s economic performance by Colliers International research guru Walter Boettcher.
Walter said even the most notorious market ‘bears’ had turned unusually bullish as most indicators had flipped from the negative to the positive.
“There is a lot of good cheer around at the moment and with justice. We are looking much better than we were four years ago.”
Walter dismissed fears the economic recovery wasn’t broad enough to prove sustainable, pointing to improving performance in the services, construction and manufacturing sectors.
He said small to medium companies had got to the point where they were re-occupying space they had disposed of during the downturn. They were also absorbing excess capacity rather than taking on hundreds of new employees which explained why employment indicators had not caught up with wider economic indicators.
He said the South West was third behind London and the South East in terms of growing business activity.
But he added: “London is getting so expensive that many institutions are looking a lot more at regional opportunities. Improvements in the fundamentals could lead to a two year expansionary cycle.”
Head of the Bristol office Tim Davies predicted the return of speculative development across the west would gather pace, with at least two further big shed deals being announced around the end of the year.
“Increased demand combined with a shortage of quality accommodation could cause a bottleneck with the tipping point occurring some time next year. Prime rents will start to pick up as a result of the correction in supply and demand.”
Offices director Stephen Lipfriend also predicted a bumper year for Bristol, with office takeup 42 per cent up on last year.
He said the market had seen a bias toward bigger deals in the 25,000 sq ft and upwards bracket following the 1-10,000 sq ft deals which had begun to proliferate through the downturn.
Stephen Lipfriend also predicted supply problems as steadily improving takeup absorbed remaining grade A space. He said the speculative development currently taking place in Bristol would be swallowed up by current demand – which he estimated at around 350,000 sq ft.
Rounding off the breakfast briefing investment director Richard Coombs said prime retail sites were strengthening but demand in the regions remains patchy. He said hotpots in locations such as Oxford, Cheltenham, Exeter and Bath are attracting prime yields, however, better value can often be found slightly off prime in strong regional centres.
Richard concluded: “We are well placed to enjoy a sustained period of economic and transactional recovery.”