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Birmingham Professionals Cut Floorspace By 50%, But Office Market Says Tis But A Scratch

103 Colmore Row, Birmingham

A new letting deal in the Birmingham highlights how some professional service occupiers are slashing their floorspace requirements.

The 26-storey tower at 103 Colmore Row landed on the Birmingham office market at a difficult time: post-pandemic, would anyone want 224K SF of new office space?

But the move to develop by Sterling Property Ventures, backed by Tristan Capital Partners, has had the desired result, with the building now close to 80% leased. 

But the latest deal reveals more clearly than ever how professional services firms — the backbone of the Colmore Row office market — are slashing their floorspace requirements.

The signing sees law firm Weightmans opt for 12K SF on the ninth floor in a move from St Philips Point, Temple Row.

However, the staff density has changed radically. A total of 168 staff will have, on average, 72 SF each at their new Colmore Row base.

This compares with 23K SF at the firm’s previous office, which would imply an average per head of 137 SF, nearly double the latest allocation. In 2009 the firm added nearly 9K SF as office needs spiralled.

Figures this low suggest that working from home will remain part of the strategy for professional services firms for some time to come. Meantime, there is a growing momentum for some companies to move to a four-day workweek, following new research showing it does not radically change productivity.

Observers said that occupier pressure for smaller suites is not causing as much damage to the Birmingham office market as some expected thanks to a backlog of requirements postponed from 2020 and 2021.

Office take-up in Q4 2022 in the central Birmingham office market totalled 210K SF. This brings the 2022 year-end total to 693K SF, the highest since 2019’s 781K SF, Birmingham Office Market Forum figures showed.

Other tenants at 103 Colmore Row include Arcadis, Browne Jacobson, Colliers, Evelyn Partners, Facepunch, Gallagher, Grant Thornton, Knight Frank, RSM and Shoosmiths. On-site amenities include Orelle, the double height restaurant on the 24th floor and ground-floor bar and café, operated by D&D London, and a members’ business club on the 18th floor, in addition to three floors of flexible office space, managed by x+why. 

“This latest letting with Weightmans takes the building to 80% let or under offer which is testament to the continued attractiveness of 103 Colmore Row,” Tristan Capital Partners Managing Director James Brodie said. The signing comes just days after Tristan founder Ric Lewis agreed to sell a majority stake to a U.S. investor.

Letting agents were Colliers, Cushman & Wakefield and Knight Frank. David Rigby of Cushman & Wakefield acted on behalf of Weightmans.