By Kristy Dorsey

Employers in Edinburgh and Glasgow are seeking higher-quality office space as they are now getting “a sense of their direction of travel” as lockdown restrictions ease.

That assessment from CBRE comes as the real estate group issued its figures on the state of the office markets in both cities during the first quarter of this year. Take-up was predictably modest during the period, though there were “encouraging signs” in both markets.

Take-up in Glasgow totalled 74,641sq ft, down 62 per cent from a year earlier. That took the total for the 12 months since the pandemic took hold in the UK to 323,716sq ft.

READ MORE: Interest in Scottish office market flagged as two major deals unveiled

In Edinburgh, take-up in the first quarter of 2021 reached 89,566sq ft, down 31.4% from a year earlier. Notable deals included Motorola taking 10,884sq ft at Caledonia Exchange, and Rockstar Games acquiring nearly 10,000sq ft of additional space at Holyrood House.

Prime rents in both cities are expected to rise though the year, with Grade A space accounting for just 6,000 of 1.75 million square feet of space currently available in Glasgow. This represents a Grade A vacancy rate of just 0.03%, while in Edinburgh there is 232,413sq ft of Grade A city centre stock for a vacancy rate of 1.3%.

READ MORE: Edinburgh office market hailed as ‘robust’

“What we are seeing, despite the lockdown, is that occupiers, particularly the corporates, now have a sense of their direction of travel,” said Stewart Taylor, head of CBRE’s Scottish office business. “They want to provide great workspace for their returning employees and while it varies sector to sector, most employers want their staff in for part of the week.

“This may mean less space in some cases but it also means higher-quality, ESG-enabled accommodation.”

Glasgow’s biggest deal of the first quarter was at 2 Cadogan Square, with construction group Multiplex Europe taking 34,052sq ft in one of the city’s largest Q1 deals of the past five years. This was followed by MDDUS taking 11,300sq ft at 206 St Vincent Street.