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The Race For The Best Office Space: Fit Out Costs Across Europe Rise 9%

Lauren Joselyn • 05/04/2023

The UK and Germany top the list of most expensive regions to fit out an office with costs expected to remain high in the near term before falling in 2024

Key UK and German cities top the list of the most expensive European regions to fit out an office as occupier expectations for their workplace continue to increase following the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new data from global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield.

Fit out costs across Europe have risen by an average of 9% (in euro currency) over the last year with high-quality fit outs now averaging €2,214 per sq m ‘all-in’*. While this represents a significant cost increase over the year, the increase is broadly in line with the peak rate of inflation encountered in the UK and euro area. High fit out costs in the UK and Germany are being further driven by elevated expectations in these regions in terms of design sophistication, technology solutions and quality of fit out.

Cushman & Wakefield’s ‘European Office Fit Out Cost Guide’ covers 25 key cities across Europe and set out average costs across a range of fit out standards to help occupiers define office relocation budgets.

Table: Top 10 Most Expensive Locations for High-Quality Fit Out Costs in Europe

RANK

COUNTRY

CITY

High quality ‘all-in’ fit out costs

per sq m

1

UK

London

3,790

2

UK

Manchester

3,174

3

UK

Birmingham

2,989

4

Germany

Hamburg

2,848

5

UK

Glasgow

2,835

6

Germany

Munich

2,757

7

Ireland

Dublin

2,750

8

Luxembourg

Luxembourg

2,750

9

Germany

Frankfurt

2,729

10

Germany

Berlin

2,645

(Source: Cushman & Wakefield; full table in Notes to Editors)

Nic Wilkinson, Chair of Project & Development Services EMEA at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “Three years on from the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering office fit outs that reflect current working strategies has never been higher up the agenda. Corporates are taking huge strides in advancing workplace strategies and the importance now placed on sustainability and DE&I criteria cannot be understated as more and more firms pivot towards accountable goals in this area. Together, this drives demand for best-in-class space of which there is a considerable lack of supply and sizable cost and logistical considerations.”

Over the past 12 months the primary issue affecting fit out costs has been surging inflation driven by significant supply-demand imbalances resulting from stressed supply chains, tight labour markets and the conflict in Ukraine.

The outlook on pricing is mixed. Although supply chain stress continues to be resolved, there are still bottlenecks for specific products, mainly electronics, and labour costs remain high. Inflation in the euro area is forecast at 6.2% in 2023 but is then expected to slow to 2.7% in 2024. These factors mean that input costs are likely to remain elevated in the near term, likely resulting in construction contractors remaining risk averse and including greater safety provisions to mitigate the current volatile conditions. However, on the opposite side of the ledger, the economic slowdown has resulted in a more cautious approach to capital expenditure by occupiers, which together with the current trend of generally downsizing office footprints, means the size of the market has shrunk. In turn, this is leading to increased competition to win projects and is therefore placing downward pressure on tender pricing as margins are shaved further.

User Expectations Transforming the Market

Cushman & Wakefield recently warned in its ‘Obsolescence = Opportunity: The next evolution of office space in Europe’ report that 76% of European office stock faces obsolescence by 2030 as a combination of changing work patterns, occupier demand, increasing legislative action from European governments around minimum sustainability standards, as well as an uncertain economic backdrop, sees stock misalign with demand.

Best in class fit outs therefore need to simultaneously consider five key factors:

  • workplace strategy
  • change management
  • sustainability
  • procurement
  • technology

Wilkinson added: “Half of the building stock across Europe is over thirty years old and just 14% has been built or substantially modernised in the last ten years. Over the life of an office building, there may be as many as three or four office fit outs, and with legislative requirements on sustainability becoming more acute, many landlords need to take action on how the environmental costs measure up against the embodied carbon in the building. Occupiers simultaneously need to factor in high all-in costs to accommodate technology and sustainability improvements, though payback periods, especially for sustainability efficiencies, have shortened considerably.”


Notes to Editors: *‘All-in’ fit outs includes furniture, audio visual, professional fees and contingency on the total costs associated with a potential internal fit out project.

Cushman & Wakefield’s definition of High, Medium, and Low office fit outs:

 

 

 

LOW

MEDIUM

HIGH

  • Limited celluarisation, less than 10% of space
  • Retain Category A ceiling throughout
  • Basic finishes to all walls
  • Lower specification finishes and carpet throughout
  • Vinyl flooring to tea points
  • Minimal alterations to air conditioning and ventilation
  • Data points to equal desk positions.
  • Celluarisation rate circa 10%-25% of space, with part single glazed partitions
  • Alterations to less than 25% of ceiling
  • Plasterboard ceiling to meeting rooms
  • Feature wall finishes to reception and tea points
  • Medium specification carpet and finishes
  • Hard flooring to reception
  • Alterations to air conditioning & ventilation to suit cellurisation
  • Multiple data points to each desk position.
  • Cellurisation to over 25% of space, with double glazed partitions
  • Alterations to over 25% of ceiling
  • Features and plasterboard ceiling to reception and offices
  • Feature finishes to meeting rooms/offices
  • High specification carpet and finishes
  • Bespoke joinery to meeting rooms and offices
  • Hard flooring to tea points and finishes
  • Modification to air conditioning/ventilation, along with new air conditioning units
  • Additional feature lighting
  • Wired data provision

 

Table: Full Ranking of High-Quality Fit Out Costs in Europe 

RANK

COUNTRY

CITY

High ‘all in’ fit out costs

per sq m

1

UK

London

3,790

2

UK

Manchester

3,174

3

UK

Birmingham

2,989

4

Germany

Hamburg

2,848

5

UK

Glasgow

2,835

6

Germany

Munich

2,757

7

Ireland

Dublin

2,750

8

Luxembourg

Luxembourg

2,750

9

Germany

Frankfurt

2,729

10

Germany

Berlin

2,645

11

France

Paris

2,626

12

Belgium

Brussels

2,415

13

Sweden

Stockholm

2,092

14

Czech Republic

Prague

1,850

15

Poland

Warsaw

1,780

16

Netherlands

Amsterdam

1,700

17

Spain

Barcelona

1,610

18

Spain

Madrid

1,610

19

Slovakia

Bratislava

1,606

20

Hungary

Budapest

1,600

21

Portugal

Lisbon

1,593

22

Serbia

Belgrade

1,494

23

Italy

Milan

1,400

24

Italy

Rome

1,400

25

Turkey

Istanbul

1,300

(Source: Cushman & Wakefield)


About Cushman & Wakefield
Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) is a leading global commercial real estate services firm for property owners and occupiers with approximately 52,000 employees in nearly 400 offices and 60 countries. In 2023, the firm reported revenue of $9.5 billion across its core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, and valuation and other services. It also receives numerous industry and business accolades for its award-winning culture and commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), sustainability and more. For additional information, visit www.cushmanwakefield.com.

MEDIA CONTACT

Lauren Joselyn Cushman & Wakefield
Lauren Joselyn

Associate Director, EMEA Communications • London

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