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Tech firms behind record four months for office deals

Office take-up reached a record level during early 2018 with technology, digital and media firms accounting for most of the deals, a report has said.

The quarterly analysis from agents Lisney said the sector accounted for 70% of take-up, with companies like UTV and Seopa on the move.

UTV has upped sticks from its former home at Havelock House to City Quays, while Seopa is now based at Adelaide Exchange.

And Lisney said that despite 20% growth in investment deal proceeds to £10m, the market remained subdued.

The sale of Meadowlane Shopping Centre in Magherafelt was one of the biggest investment deals of the year.

And while the retail sector had suffered setbacks in the quarter - including the administrations of Maplin and Toys R US and news of closures by New Look - there had been a stream of new openings and deals such as discounters B&M and the Range, and upmarket coffee shop Patisserie Valerie.

Patisserie Valerie is recruiting for store managers in Belfast - suggesting it's adding to its existing two units in the city.

Declan Flynn, managing director of Lisney Northern Ireland, welcomed the boost to office take-up from the tech sector.

But he added: "We do foresee potential supply constraints later in the year which will place greater emphasis on redevelopment and refurbishment."

And retail was facing challenges. "The retail market has been hit hard by Brexit-fuelled inflation, increased labour costs and failing consumer confidence resulting in poor trading for many, with casualties including Maplin, New Look and Toys R Us.

"So far no local New Look stores have closed and there is strong interest in the few Maplin and Toys R Us stores available."

He said there had been "notable activity" in the coffee shop sector. This week Ground Espresso announced an opening at Victoria Square Shopping Centre.

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