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Industrial rents to grow in the South West as emerging towns turn prime

29 03 22 Industrial rents to grow in the South West as emerging towns turn prime hero

Commercial real estate firm publishes its latest Industrial and Logistics Viewpoint.

Prime Grade A big box rents in industrial and logistics spaces are expected to reach in excess of £7.50 per sq ft this year due to sustained demand for space, and a lack of new supply. 

According to commercial real estate firm Colliers’ latest Industrial & Logistics Viewpoint, although the pandemic had originally stalled demand in the South West and south east Wales markets, in 2021 there was a resurgence in the sector which has seen secondary market towns become prime. 

Total occupier take-up for 2021 equated to 2.6 million sq ft across 184 transactions, an increase of 13 per cent on 2020, which recorded 2.3 million sq ft across 163 transactions. In addition, investors purchased £453 million of industrial assets, the third highest volumes on record, 7 per cent ahead of the five-year annual average of £423 million. 

Tom Watkins director in the firm’s Bristol office said: “The imbalance between supply and demand has seen emerging markets such as Swindon, Gloucester & Exeter turn into prime locations and rents driven up in 2021. In the south west there is a lack of supply of warehouses, and little in the pipeline to address the issue, which is resulting in the rise of rents and greater investment returns. Occupier demands in the area have been evolving, as the growth of e-commerce and demand on their supply chain has resulted in many considering a wider catchment area for their needs, as long as good transport links are available.

“In addition, investors are seeing the opportunities of long-let agreements, as we’ve seen with the likes of AXA IM forward funding £20.6million for the development of 107,660 sq ft warehouse at Central Approach, Avonmouth, which was pre-let to Oxford Instruments Plc for 20 years.” 

The same deal secured a rent of £7.45 per sq ft from Trebor Developments/Hillwood and now Colliers predicts that with take up increasing for each of the past four years and with only two Grade A warehouses larger than 100,000 sq ft immediately available in the region, there will be further rental growth to above £7.50 per sq ft.

Investor appetite for industrial assets drove annual total returns to 31.7 per cent in Q4 2021 and resulted in an average net initial yield (NIY) of 3.9 per cent (MSCI), a compression of 93.5 bps when compared to Q4 2020. 

Andrea Ferranti, head of Industrial and Logistics Research at Colliers added: “The performance of the UK industrial market is breaking numerous records, driven by occupiers expanding operations, eye-watering rental growth figures and investors betting on the long-term performance of the sector. Increasing rents and land values, construction costs, logistics and labour costs will not dissipate in 2022 and occupiers will need to act swiftly to secure a deal. From an investor perspective, there will be more bidding at uncomfortable levels and purchasers might need to consider speculative funding to seek higher returns due to yields being at historic lows.

“The warehouse of the future will require more highly skilled people, a robust power supply, a good pool of labour and also Grade A workspace to not only attract and retain talent but also investors. More ESG regulations will also be introduced which will further affect the sector from a cost perspective as investors seek to purchase net-zero properties and occupiers are required to adopt more sustainable technologies.”

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Andrea Ferranti

Director for Industrial Client Engagement

Research and Forecasting

London - West End

Head of Industrial & Logistics Research working closely with the Research & Forecasting team whilst supporting the Industrial and Logistics teams nationally in providing research and advises to clients. Andrea leads on the division’s key research papers which include, but not limited to, the Industrial & Logistics Barometer and the UK Speculative Development Map – both of which have become key benchmark publications highly valued by UK investors and developers alike.

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Kim Inam

PR Manager

Marketing & Communications

London - West End

I'm a communications professional who has previously worked as a journalist for eight years covering a broad range of topics including politics, crime, health and housing in north London. In recent years I have worked in corporate communications for local authorities across London  and joined Colliers in October 2019, initially providing maternity leave cover.

I provide strategic public relations advice to various business lines within the UK organisation to secure recognition for their work in the property press as well as key target media, and work with our experts to produce thought leadership pieces which are of interest to our clients and colleagues within the commercial real estate sector. In addition, alongside colleagues in the PR and wider communications team, I provide media and social media training for our in-house experts to prepare them for media opportunities and raise their personal brand within the sector.

As well as supporting various teams within the UK business, I also I curate and edit regular content for the blog, which drives credible business leads to our experts.


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Tom Watkins


Industrial and Logistics


I joined Colliers International in 2012 for a years placement as part of my degree at Bristol UWE.  Since completing my degree I re-joined the Bristol office in 2014, and qualified as a Chartered Surveyor the following year, and then subseqnently managed to secure promotions year on year until being kindly awarded Directorship in  2019.

I am now Head of the South West Industrial & Logistics team based out of Bristol, specialising in the disposal and acquisition of industrial premises in the South West and South Wales regions, as well as providing specialist advice on industrial/warehouse  development.

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