Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Hot to Trot – Western European Office Market Heats Up. Are you ready to take advantage?

The demand for office space across Western Europe has hit its highest level since the financial crisis. Tim Hamilton, Senior Director - EMEA Global Corporate Services, explains what is driving this trend and what it means for real estate corporate occupiers.

Stat Attack
The second quarter of 2014 has seen a 21% uplift in office take-up on the first quarter across Western Europe. This marks the highest second quarter take-up since the equivalent period in 2009 -  the height of the financial crisis. Across Europe as a whole, aggregate take-up rose by a healthy 12.2% compared to the first quarter of the year.

Driving this is strengthening activity in some core markets namely London, Milan and Lisbon while Paris is showing signs of an upturn in fortunes too.  London saw a 29% quarterly take-up increase compared to the first quarter, with corporate occupiers returning to the market with new office space requirements. Similarly, Milan’s take-up more than doubled, across the same period, to 94,000 sq m while Lisbon recorded one of its strongest quarters in recent years. In addition, the Paris office market which has largely been subdued during the downturn with occupiers lacking the confidence to relocate, posted its highest office take-up level for two years in the second quarter, representing a 28% uplift on the first.

The impact?
Often, a direct knock-on-effect of increased demand for office space is vacancy declines. We’ve seen this across Western Europe with the overall vacancy rate falling in the second quarter. Drilling down further, Central London saw a third consecutive quarterly decline in vacancy rates with prime space now in very short supply. Likewise, Brussels, Paris and Amsterdam also contributed to vacancy dips with ever increasing demands for office space in prime locations. Meanwhile, Frankfurt saw the most noticeable drop, where vacancy fell sharply for the second consecutive quarter driven by the removal of obsolete stock and the conversion of older commercial buildings into residential units.

Crucially, vacancy rates effect rental costs and this is starting to filter through into some key markets. Madrid, for example, has seen its prime rent increase from €24.50/sq m per month to €24.75/sq m per month in Q2, which although on the surface seems relatively small, it represents the Spanish capital’s first rental growth since the recession, symbolic of improved economic stability. The strongest performing office markets continue to see the steepest rises in prime rents, Dublin saw rents rise by a huge 14.2% in Q2 to €430.50/sq m per annum driven, in part, by strong demand from Technology, Media and Telecoms occupiers. London’s West End market recorded a 2.4% increase in rental growth across the same period.

So, why the upturn now?
During the recession the overwhelming, yet understandable, market trend was one of cost consolidation. This was felt worldwide and no sector was immune. Today, the market is not yet as buoyant as it was pre-recession, however, there is ever increasing corporate appetite to lease or acquire space, particularly across Western Europe. This  is encouraging as it signifies that occupiers who have been hamstrung in recent years by tightening budgets resulting in a contraction of take-up levels, are now in a position to flex their muscles and take new space.

The future?
As the macro-economy and market strengthens, the growth in prime office rents is likely to become more widespread over the next 12 months particularly given the short supply and a relatively thin office development pipeline. Having spent a number of years taking advantage of falling rents, occupiers will need to start factoring in potential future rental increases into their strategic decision making.

Tim Hamilton, Senior Director - EMEA Global Corporate Services

Tuesday, 1 July 2014


Today, July 1, 2014, marks the launch of the first data centre Climate Change Agreement (CCA), a significant milestone for the industry.  The data centre CCA, which has been in planning for four years, is formal recognition by the UK government that the sector is mature and significant to the economy and requires its own legislation and legal framework to sustain industry growth.

What is a CCA?
CCAs, first introduced in 2001, are negotiated agreements between government and energy intensive sectors designed to minimise energy consumption through the implementation of energy efficient measures to meet UK’s carbon reduction targets.  CCA participants are incentivised to meet challenging energy efficiency targets via a reduction of, or exclusion from, specific carbon taxes (CCL and CRC). Prior to today, approximately 50 CCAs were already in operation in the UK covering various sectors. 
Andrew Jay, Executive Director, Data Centre Solutions

What does it mean for the data centre industry?
In essence, participation in a CCA will require each data centre to work towards legally binding energy efficiency targets over the period of the agreement and thus contribute to the overall objective of the CCA, which is to improve the energy performance of the data centre sector as a whole. Ultimately, this should see carbon tax liabilities associated with electricity reduced for the industry.
The first agreement is immediately effective and will run until 2020 with a sector target of 15% energy reduction in power usage effectiveness (PUE).  In addition, colocation data centre operators are required to reduce non-IT energy consumption by 30% between 2011 and 2020 via the implementation of energy efficient measures.

What are the benefits of a date centre CCA?
As this new legislation is sector specific, focused on colocation data centres, there are a number of benefits. The new legal framework, energy stewardship and governance will improve industry and investor confidence which should increase industry employment and ultimately growth. This has a knock-on-effect of improved EU and even global competitiveness.  From an environmental standpoint, the new targets will ensure a sector is more energy efficient going forward.

What does this mean for the future of the industry?
Today is a hugely significant milestone for the data centre sector. The data centre specific CCA recognises that this sector underpins the UK economy but to date has been left unchecked and largely misunderstood by policy makers. The formal legislation also signals an awareness that the industry will continue to evolve and become more competitive as data centre operators will be incentivised to take vital steps to improve the energy performance of their assets. This is a very positive step for all associated parties now and in the future.

To register for a data centre CCA or for further information please visit:

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Friday, 6 June 2014

Investment in Africa strengthens continent’s status - attracting multinationals

As multinational interest in Africa strengthens, the potential opportunities for commercial real estate occupiers do as well.

The MSCI Frontier Markets Index (FMI), which provides equity market coverage for “frontier” markets (distinct from “developed” and “emerging” ones), has just hit its highest point since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.

Nigeria and Kenya, two of the fastest growing economies in the Index, have largely driven growth in the index over the last three months. A fundamental driver for Africa’s increasing influence in the Index, which has a collective weighting of 32.5% spread across five countries, is an increase in investments from multinational companies. Central to this, on the real estate occupier side, is the low labour costs, growing populations, increased disposable incomes, burgeoning economies and the potential for future growth in select African markets.
Nick Lambert, Head of Complex & Emerging Markets
This contrasts to most developed markets, where despite broad top-down economic improvements, the commercial occupier trend for business remains one of consolidation, cost savings and streamlining of operations.

As of 2 June 2014, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates moved out of the MSCI FMI into the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EMI). Qatar’s improved economic conditions highlight a path forward for African economies.

As investment into Africa increases, more companies will open operations on the ground. This is a positive development for corporate occupiers expanding into Africa and is a trend that is likely to strengthen over time.

Any questions? Contact Nick Lambert, Head of Complex & Emerging Markets, EMEA - Global Corporate Services

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Sustainable up-time: Maximising continuity of service

With industry observers estimating the cost of downtime at as much as £3,539 a minute, and with  power breaks of 20 milliseconds or more potentially taking hours or days to recover from, it is imperative that systems are built and maintained to run continuously. Mark Acton, Critical Product Director at Norland, part of the CBRE Group, discusses here the importance of up-time.

False assumptions
There are a set of references that seek to define the expected uptime of a data centre. But many do not fully understand what these mean. The single aim of a data centre is to guarantee sustainable business continuity and yet many of the underlying principles are ignored or misunderstood by senior management.
For example, uptime is often referenced by the ‘9s,’ which are based on statistical equipment failure rates (MTBF) and do not take into account operational practices. Even after achieving a level of 99.9999% uptime, this would still leave up to 32 seconds per year of service outage. Thirty-two seconds may not sound like a lot of time on an annual basis, but if we convert that time to milliseconds (32,000 milliseconds) and divide by 20 (a 20 millisecond break can cause outages lasting hours and days) we are left with 1,600 occasions that might trigger costly delays.

Hidden Infrastructure risks
Protecting against downtime cannot simply mean meeting industry standards and implementing industry metrics. The real challenge is identifying the hidden risks which are not accounted for.

A key factor which is often overseen is the disconnect between M&E Engineers and IT Engineers. These two groups often have differing views on defining uptime performance based on industry assumptions.

Software, IT hardware and building infrastructure can also be disjointed, meaning that SLAs can become ineffective. For example, an SLA on an application guaranteeing 24x365 availability is profoundly flawed if it is dependent on supporting infrastructure which is not sufficiently resilient.
The danger is that businesses think they are protected when they are not. Ensuring constant and consistent communication between these groups is an important step to increasing uptime and maximising data centre continuity.

Mark Acton: Critical Product Director at Norland, part of the CBRE Group.