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London City Occupier Insights 2020

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New research from Colliers International shows that despite the headlines concentrating on financial and legal sectors, the City of London has an occupational diversity that will provide it with significant resilience and help drive the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Guy Grantham, Director of London Research and Forecasting at Colliers International, commented: “Following the global financial crisis, there was significant growth in ‘one-man-bands’ and start-ups driven by former employees who suffered redundancy or simply took a decision to make a new career move. Many of these firms from over the past decade have, and will continue, to evolve into the SMEs that have contributed to the diversity of the City. COVID-19 is set to recharge that process as many review options and consider radical changes of course.”  

James Walker, Director & Head of City Agency added, “Major banks have been repositioning staff for a number of years to key regional hubs with HSBC, Barclays and RBS already having relatively modest levels of staffing in London compared to the wider UK. 

“The doom and gloom headlines we have seen recently often fail to take this diversification of office location into account. SMEs and start-ups are now an important part of the market and from early signals have weathered the pandemic better than expected and certainly seem to be more amenable to an early return to the physical workplace. It will be this diversity that will help to drive the recovery of the market and help to give the City a resilience it hasn’t previously had.”

Tom Swanson, Director at Colliers International said,“The City of London has re-invented itself so many times before, and it is its myriad of interlocking ecosystems which will see it bounce back. There remains a weight of international capital looking to invest here, and we are now starting to see more opportunities coming to the market.”

The new figures show:

  • In the City of London alone, over 90% of occupiers can be classed as SMEs (small/medium sized enterprises) with 250 employees
  • Banking and finance account for 37% of the occupied office space in the EC[1] postcodes or in excess of 20 million sq ft 
  • Combined, professional, other services and media & tech account for 59% (35 million sq ft plus). Media & tech alone, has risen from 2.3 million sq ft in 2009 to its current level of 7.2 million sq ft, a rise of 300% in just over a decade. 
  • In addition, the occupier profile at Canary Wharf continues to broaden, with occupancy by the banking and financial sectors falling by 13% over the past decade.
  • Some 25 million sq ft (50% of the square mile’s office stock) is leased by companies occupying 50,000 sq ft or less. In turn, 61% of that figure is attributable to occupiers in under 20,000 sq ft.


London City Occupier Insights 2020

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Guy Grantham

Director of Research and Forecasting

Research and Forecasting

London - West End

Guy has been a property research professional for 23 years and gained extensive knowledge of the UK and Global property markets. He has worked closely with a wide variety of major developers, landlords and occupiers in a consultancy capacity. Instrumental in supporting Hines' purchase of Brindleyplace for £200m, on which Colliers advised. He is now specialising in the London Office market using his extensive knowledge and experience to provide market leading insight into current occupier, investment and development trends.

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