Demand for industrial space has grown markedly in Northern Ireland over the last year, according to one of the province's leading commercial property consultants.
Gavin Weir, associate director in BTW Shiells' general agency department, said demand over the past 12 months had been fuelled by "the success and resultant expansion of the small to medium sized local indigenous company together with growing demand from the established haulage/distribution companies".
BTW Shiells, one of the firms in the running for the industrial agent of the year award at Property Week's Irish Property Awards, is involved in several major business parks throughout the province, all of which have enjoyed an increase in letting and sales activity over the last year.
They include Central Park in Mallusk, Silverwood Business Park in Craigavon, Kilroot Business Park in Carrickfergus and Harbour View in Sydenham.
The company further enhanced its industrial/warehouse offering through the acquisition of both Antrim Business Park at Junction One and the former NIE complex in Culcavy which, combined, offer more than one million square feet of space.
Stuart Draffin, a BTW Shiells director, said: "These acquisitions presented us with two excellent asset management opportunities with several development and refurbishment angles. Both complexes offer existing high bay facilities on main transport routes for which there is a proven demand."
A particular growth area in the industrial sector over the last 12 months has been the small hybrid style business units in the 1,000 to 3,000 square feet size range.
Usually positioned near motorways and offering a combination of office and distribution space, they have been much sought-after recently.
The firm is also noticing a marked increase in activity from the larger distribution companies for well-located new-build space with good eaves height served by dock levelers.
Mr Weir said: "There is a lack of high spec warehouse accommodation in Northern Ireland and we are unlikely to witness significant rental growth until developers undertake some speculative development of such accommodation in prime locations."
Another indication of the buoyant industrial property market was the recent sale of the former Daewoo complex in Antrim for a figure in excess of £10m. It was acquired by the Camden Group.