A guide to serviced offices and office space to rent in Manchester as well as general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting office space in the city.
History & Geography
Manchester is located in the North West of England, bordered by the mountains of the Pennines and the Cheshire Plain. Manchester lies on the east bank of the River Irwell and was first inhabited by the powerful Brigante tribe. However the city only became a permanent settlement when the Romans invaded Britain and established a large fort in the area in 79 CE called Mamucium. The Romans abandoned the area in the 4th century, though the civilian settlement which had sprung up around the fort continued. After the invasion of England by the Normans in 1066 much of the area was laid waste during the Harrying of the North, with the ultimate death toll reaching the hundreds of thousands. However Manchester survived and continued to grow in population and soon became a prosperous market town. The influx of Flemish weavers to the area in the 14th century transformed Manchester into the regional hub of the textile industry and the city became known for its woollen and linen articles. During the Industrial Revolution Manchester became the world’s most productive cotton processing centre and developed a host of other industries alongside it. Soon Manchester became known as the greatest industrial city in the world and continued to expand rapidly. When the Manchester Ship Canal was built in 1894 it allowed ocean-going to ships to sail right into the Port of Manchester. The last quarter of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th was a golden era for the city and the phrase was coined, ‘what Manchester does today the rest of the world does tomorrow’. However the latter half of the 20th century saw the city’s fortunes decline, with heavy industry facing a massive downturn largely due to the economic policies of Margaret Thatcher. Between 1961 and 1983 the city lost 150,000 manufacturing jobs. During the early 1990s Manchester saw major regeneration efforts. Millions of pounds were given to the city to repair the destruction caused by an IRA bomb in 1996, which resulted in the transformation of the city centre. Today Manchester is effectively England’s second city, a thriving economic hub and cultural icon.
Manchester’s economy is one of the largest in England and the city is a centre of the arts, media, commerce and higher education. Additionally the city is a major legal and financial hub. A recent survey of business leaders in the UK ranked Manchester as the best place in the UK to locate a business and the 12th best in Europe. One of the city’s largest employers is the Co-operative Group, the world’s largest consumer-owned business. Spinningfields, the large business area west of Deansgate is currently being described as the Canary Wharf of the north and is home to the Royal Bank of Scotland’s new headquarters. Construction is also an important industry in Manchester, and the city is currently the site of one of the largest new developments in the UK, NOMA. To be situated in the north of the city, NOMA will be a 20-acre site of offices, leisure, retail and residential space. Along with its function as a centre of business, Manchester is also a popular destination for visitors from the rest of the UK and the world. The city’s tourist industry is a major source of revenue and Manchester is currently the second most visited city in England after London.
Tourism & Culture
Manchester is a cultural icon for the rest of the UK and the world, a status reflected in its thriving tourism industry. Much of the city’s fame is from its music heritage. A long list of bands hail from Manchester, including Oasis, The Smiths, the Buzzcocks, The Fall, Joy Division and New Order. During the 1980s the city fostered a host of indie bands such as The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and James. The ‘Madchester’ phenomenon also gave birth to the rave scene and the music that went alongside it. This legacy continues to this day and can be seen in the city’s still thriving music scene and nightlife. Manchester has some of the best clubs in the country and areas such as the Northern Quarter and Canal Street, home to the city’s gay village, have an array of bars, clubs, pub and restaurants. Also the city’s ‘curry mile’ located in Rusholme, is famous for its Asian restaurants. Manchester is of course also known for its association with perhaps the most famous football club in the world, Manchester United, and its stadium, Old Trafford, and is a magnet for aficionados of the sport. The city also has a wide variety of museums, including the Imperial War Museum North, the Museum of Science and Industry and the People’s History Museum.
Manchester has one of the best transport infrastructures of any city in the UK. It is served by Manchester Airport, the busiest in the country outside London, serving flights to North America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa and the rest of Europe. The airport is easily accessible by rail from Manchester Piccadilly station, also the busiest of its kind in the UK outside London. The other main railway station in the city is Manchester Victoria. Manchester itself is served by an extensive bus network as well as the Manchester Metrolink, the largest tram system in the UK.
Manchester has a sizable office market, and while the city’s economy has been affected by the downturn, it has managed to avoid the plunging unemployment rates affecting the rest of the country. Currently Manchester suffers from a lack of Grade A office supply, especially in the face of rising demand. Furthermore there is relatively little in the immediate development pipeline currently, though this is expected to change soon. Currently the vacancy rate in the city stands at approximately 12 percent and prime rents are GBP 32 per square foot per year. Incentives still remain fairly generous, with the average being 30 months rent free on a ten year term.