HSBC to take space in new flagship city centre office scheme as ‘flight to quality’ continues

April 14, 2023

Global banking giant HSBC has delivered a boost to Bristol’s city centre commercial property market by acquiring space in one of its largest flagship office developments for a new South West regional base.

The bank is to occupy 11,000 sq ft of the 200,000 sq ft EQ building, pictured, on Victoria Street – meaning the state-of-the-art scheme is now more than 50% pre-let ahead of its opening this summer. 

Fast-growing fintech firm Paymentsense has already signed up to take 54,767 sq ft at EQ.

EQ, being developed by London-based property investment group CEG, will feature a rooftop bar, restaurant and business lounge with communal terrace and 50-seat auditorium, as well as a fitness suite.

It is one of a number of major office schemes around the city centre which are benefiting from a post-pandemic ‘flight to quality’ as firms look for modern, flexible space to tempt employees into the office while also boosting their own ESG (environmental, social and governance) credentials.

HSBC said its office in EQ would become one of its most sustainable buildings across Europe.

It will also play a key part in supporting HSBC’s commitment to boost and drive growth across the city centre.

The bank will transfer around 270 staff from its wealth and private bank, commercial bank and insurance teams to EQ from their current office in Temple Quay.

HSBC head of corporate services UK and Europe Esra Fanoscu said: “To ensure we give our customers and clients the very best service, it is important that we provide the best colleague experience when developing our workspaces. 

“The new office in Bristol will help us elevate the experience whilst progressing our commitment to our net zero strategy.”

HSBC UK South West head of corporate banking James Shepherd added: “We are delighted to make this investment as part of our long-term commitment to Bristol and the South West.

“Bristol is a key strategic office for us and this move will provide a fantastic working environment for our colleagues whilst also supporting our commitment to reducing our impact on the environment.” 

Other flagship city centre offices schemes, such as Cubex’s Halo at Finzels Reach, Nord’s 1 Portwall Square on Redcliffe Way and AXA/Bell Hammer’s Assembly on Temple Way all secured lettings before being completed, with BT taking 200,000 sq ft at Assembly. 

Total office space take-up in Bristol last year was 620,000 sq ft – the highest since 2017, higher than the five and 10-year average and 70,000-plus sq ft more than the three-year average, according to the city’s property agents.

The tech, media and telecoms sector, along with professional services and co-working space operators between them accounted for more than half the total take-up.

However, the lack of top quality office space in the city centre is leading to higher rents, with an 11% increase last year to £42.50 per sq ft – making Bristol the most expensive of the ‘Big Six’ regional cities.

Financial details of the HSBC deal have not been disclosed.

CBRE acted for HSBC while Jones Lang LaSalle and Cushman and Wakefield acted for the landlord.

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