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Manchester Office Space Guide

Manchester as a Business Location

[Updated Oct 2020] 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.

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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 the heavy industry facing a massive downturn largely due to the economic policies of Conservative Party policies. 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, this was also further bolstered by the income and developments generated by the hosting of the 2002 Commonwealth Games. 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 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 is 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.

iconic Manchester skyscraper

Commercial Property for rent in Manchester

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 musical heritage. A long list of bands hails 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, as is its cross-city rival, Manchester City. 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.

flexible workspace in Manchester Spinningfields

Serviced Office Space in Manchester

Manchester Office Space and Flexible WorkSpace Market

Manchester recorded a strong end to 2017 with the final overall take-up figure of 1.2m sq ft across 271 transactions, which is well above the 10-year average.

This record was further surpassed in 2018 with an overall take-up figure of 1.45m sq ft over 314 transactions – again exceeding the previous 10-year average.

The eager demand for grade A office accommodation throughout all four quarters of 2017 have left Manchester city centre with a record low supply.

With only 160,000 sq ft of Grade A accommodation presently available in the form of Embankment, No 1 Spinningfields, 3 Hardman Square in Spinningfields, 40 Spring Gardens and 2 St Peter’s Square, 2018 will likely see an increase in headline rents and opportunities for landlords to refurbish and deliver secondhand stock.

There are, currently, a number of Grade A schemes under construction include Landmark (180,000 sq ft), 125 Deansgate (125,000 sq ft), Hanover @ NOMA (90,000 sq ft), Circle Square (230,000 sq ft) and York Street (80,000 sq ft), the majority of which will be delivered in mid-late 2019 providing space for a pre-let market once the existing supply of Grade A and Grade D is absorbed.

Notable transactions in 2018 included; 56,000 sq ft to WeWork at No 1 Spinningfields and 45,000 sq ft at One St Peters Square, 77,000 sq ft to DWP at 2 St Peters Square, and 70,000 sq ft at Manchester Royal Exchange to Clyde & Co.

In October 2019, it was announced that just under 300,000 sq ft of office space take-up was recorded in Manchester city centre during Q3, putting total take-up for the year to date at 1.1m sq ft.

This figure resulted in total take-up for Q1-Q3 of 2019 exceeding the five year average for the same period, indicating that 2019 will be another strong year of city centre take-up after a record 2018.

A notable deal in Q3 came from serviced office provider, Regus, who took just over 26,000 sq ft at St James’s Tower on Charlotte Street.

International serviced office providers such as Regus have many flex space centres in Manchester, as do national operators such as Landmark, i2 Office and Orega, there are also many Manchester-based office providers, the largest of which being Bruntwood.

Many office providers also provide co-working space now, and there are also many providers that specialise only in co-working space. SPACES operate in the city and international co-working space provider WeWork recently chose Manchester as it’s first UK location outside of the capital as a location in which to operate. The first of their co-working centres being in Spinningfields.

Manchester has a thriving startup scene with many incubators and supporting schemes running. Click here for further information regarding startup office space in Manchester

Check out this essential directory of resources for companies looking to open an office in Manchester here

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The Office Providers are Regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

The Office Providers is Regulated by the RICS

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