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US giant needs more space

JP Morgan seeking new Glasgow HQ for software developers

JP Morgan

Waterloo sunrise: the bank is expanding its Glasgow operations


 

JP Morgan, the global investment bank, is looking for a new headquarters for its software development centre in Glasgow.

The US-based company, which has been in the city since the turn of the century, is already expanding from its Waterloo Street base into new offices in Bothwell Street.

It employs about 1,300 staff in its European Technology Centre developing software for its operations around the world.

It is now said to be seeking “a new HQ” according to a property agent and is among a host of international businesses looking to beef up their presence in the city at a time when office development is struggling to keep up with demand across Scotland.

A new report from Colliers International says the uncertain political climate is forcing investors to exercise caution which is constraining the space available.

Research presented at Colliers’ recent Scottish Economic Breakfast Briefing showed businesses have weathered recent political storms well, suggesting that further growth is possible next year and that prime office space will still be in high demand.

Activity was only slightly affected by the Independence Referendum and the latest GDP figures suggest Scottish firms recovered better than their English peers from the shock of the Brexit vote. 

Patrick Ford, a director in Colliers International’s growing Capital Markets team in Scotland, said the last 12 months had seen soaring office demand in Glasgow in particular, where major office deals in financial services and the public sector meant property activity for 2018 was set to be double that seen in recent years at more than 1 million square feet.

But he added: “Although there is every indication that demand for premium offices will continue into next year there are several large companies specifically looking for space – it is another matter to persuade developers and investors to make a move at this time.




 

“It’s unfortunate, as this should be a time of real opportunity for the city, with many key sectors and employers looking to beef up their presence, to take advantage of the skilled workforce, good communications and other advantages Glasgow offers.” 

In a major sign that the city’s economic strategy aimed at nurturing key sectors such as financial services is working, Glasgow has seen large offices sold or leased to HMRC, Barclays and Clydesdale Bank in recent months. JP Morgan is among others looking for new premises in the city. “It’s for a new HQ,” he told Daily Business.

A report from Savills last week revealed that domestic investors accounted for more than half (£1.129bn) of all office transactions in Scotland this year whereas in recent years international investors have been dominant. It also noted that twice as many office transactions took place in Glasgow (circa £300 million) than Edinburgh.

With demand matched by strong investor interest, Colliers has strengthened its capital markets capability in Scotland, with the recent appointment of adviser Elliot Cassels from Montagu Evans, following Mr Ford’s arrival earlier in the year.

Mr Ford said investor interest in Scotland remains strong, especially from overseas investors, who benefit from the current level of Sterling. However, like developers, investors are inclined to wait and see what happens with Brexit.

The additional political risk of a second independence referendum has not disappeared from Scotland, it has been diluted as a result of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, he added. 

“It’s very encouraging to see such healthy demand from major employers and value creators in the city, but business needs space to grow. Rents are under upwards pressure and in theory that should help, but we need to see cranes on the skyline” he said. 



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