2020 proved a remarkable year for the Bidwells’ Logistics and Industrial team after surpassing their 2019 record achievement by almost 1.75m sq ft.
The team completed a staggering 3,281,352 sq ft of big box (>100,000 sq ft) deals across the region. Such incredible numbers reflect a booming sector, transformed through the impacts of online retail, Covid-19, and Brexit.
The eastern region has been at the forefront of this revolution with occupiers keen to establish their UK warehouse headquarters in the area. When assessing where to base distribution facilities in the UK, the Eastern region has significant benefits including proximity to the UK’s largest container port at Felixstowe, recent A14 improvements, and access to skilled employment.
The total take-up numbers for 2020 stand at approximately 3.82m sq ft, dominated by a number of notable transactions including the pre-sale of 870,000 sq ft at Suffolk Park, Bury St Edmunds to Weerts Group and 631,820 sq ft sale to American food manufacturer McCormick & Co at Gateway Peterborough. The Weerts sale holds the accolades of the region’s largest warehouse transaction in the last decade, and the largest UK transaction in Q4.
Both companies have chosen East Anglia as the home for their respective facilities and will be creating over 600 new jobs in the process, driving the local economy.
Reflecting on last year, Head of Logistics and Industrial at Bidwells, Patrick Stanton, said “2020 will be remembered for many adverse reasons, but from a property perspective it will be remembered as the year which cemented distribution, warehouse and industrial as the foremost property sectors, both for occupier and investment demand”.
“Unquestionably the market has been turbocharged by the dramatic change in shopping habits during the pandemic and the increased importance of online retail in everyday life. Within weeks of the first lockdown we witnessed a surge in demand from retailers, e-commerce and parcel sectors. Fortunately, given our specialism in the big box market across the eastern region, we were able to successfully advise our clients and secure several of these requirements within our existing instructions”.
Looking ahead, Patrick expects to see demand continue at a similar level. He says “the migration to internet shopping will continue. However, with only two units available over 100,000 sq ft across the region, we expect short-term supply issues to limit take up numbers for 2021. This will mean occupiers need to consider pre-lets and pre-sales if they are to secure representation or expansion within the area”.
“Notwithstanding the pandemic, on-line sales still only account for 38% of all retail sales therefore we still expect huge growth potential in the sector. Thankfully 2020 has shown our area is well positioned to be at the forefront of this future growth”
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