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Offices boosted by "a structural change" in demand
05 July 2019 | Ana Tavares

The big companies discovered Portugal, and are entering and leaving their mark on the office segment, generating «a structural change» in demand. But the offer is not yet able to fully meet that demand.

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This was one of the main subjects discussed during the latest Pequeno Almoço – Conferência (Conference Breakfast) Vida Imobiliária/Cushman & Wakefield, which took place at the InterContinental Lisbon, and which gathered several players from this segment to reflect on it.

The words are from João Cristina, from Merlin Properties, who highlighted that the market average take up in Lisbon increased to 700 to 800 sqm, and considers that this is a «structural change in demand. It concerns the workforce training in Portugal and the low-cost labour in our country. Portugal is on the front line when compared to other European countries and this is an ongoing phenomenon, despite the fact that the offer is not following it».

Tiago Violas, from the Violas Ferreira group, also attested that the market’s big driver «is talent», in particular in Porto, where the group is more active: «Porto has many universities, and international companies have detected that. We now need quality spaces in Porto, where there were no offices with more than 1.500 sqm per floor, nor modern offices».

Ricardo Valente, from Imopolis, highlights that the market has «no history of pre-leasing, our reality has changed». And he believes that the market «is going through a very exciting stage». In terms of Imopolis, he assures that «we are very active and expect to carry out new operations soon». Sérgio Meireles, from Fundger, believes that «we are living a very interesting moment, and we are on the right path».

Eric van Leuven, from C&W, believes that «we have a great dynamic in occupation, a lot of investment and it is good to feel this optimism ». Carlos Oliveira, from C&W, says that «there is a clear lack of large and quality spaces, which means that those who need to find large areas quickly face many difficulties».

New «atypical» occupants

In terms of occupants companies such as Fidelidade were present, represented by Miguel Santana, Fidelidade presented its 140.000 sqm office project to be located on the terrains of the old Feira Popular (amusement park), in Lisbon, 40.000 of which for the insurance company alone and 100.000 to market speculatively. Demonstrating the demand’s great dynamic, Miguel Santana guarantees that «according to the contacts we maintain, we are beyond overbooked».

On the other hand, Ageas, represented by Caio Antunes, is preparing to occupy 8.000 sqm at ICON Offices, in Porto, and has under development another project at Parque das Nações, in Lisbon, where it will concentrate all its operations. João Hormigo, from EDP, explained that the company is getting its new 20.000 sqm headquarters ready next to the current building at 24 de Julho avenue, in Lisbon. These are all examples of occupants which are «somewhat atypical, because they own their own spaces», comments Carlos Oliveira, from C&W.

«A good office building is similar to a hotel»

The new office buildings won’t be similar to the ones from the past. They will be more focused on the collaborators’ well-being and space optimisation and concerned with talent retention.

«There are new international investors arriving in Portugal to construct new buildings, which means we have everything that is needed», guarantees Margarida Caldeira, from Broadway Malyan, who believes that «today, a good office building is very similar to a hotel». The open space trend is here to stay, but «with everything that is needed».

Facility management might play a fundamental role as an area «that was built to provide support», explains Miguel Agostinho, from APFM. However, «there are few defined metrics and goals and we still find some obstacles in terms of decision making», he points out. «We need data and for the occupants to share their information».