But what will it take to keep pace with ongoing changes in retail and what might threaten the sector’s success?
First, some statistics on how Wales performed last year. It saw take-up of 5.1m sq ft which was 12% higher than 2016 and 9% above the five‑year average, whilst 2017 was also a record year for grade A take-up, at 0.7m sq ft. However, supply fell by 21%, the sharpest contraction of any UK region.
So, should investors simply take advantage of trends in ecommerce and look to build? “To secure long-term success,” advises Jason Thorne of LSH’s Swansea-based industrial team, “investors will need to be aware that the equation is not so simple.
“To succeed and command a premium, landlords and developers will need to collaborate with customers and be focused on what their business will need. Start with what the customer wants, understand what the business will look like in the foreseeable future and then work backwards to find the right solution.”
Logistics are now critical to how companies manage their supply chains and handle ever greater parcel volumes. To be future proof means building an infrastructure able to respond to innovation, in automation and technology, as ever-greater efficiencies and ‘smart supply chain solutions’ are developed. Sustainability matters too, ensuring that occupiers can manage and reduce energy costs.
Whilst developers can actively work with businesses to ensure their industrial and logistic spaces are fit for purpose, the development of road infrastructure will determine its success too.
Newport saw strong growth of 5.9% and the removal of the Severn Bridge tolls is set to further boost the sector. But those gains will not be fully realised until the M4 Relief Road is constructed, relieving current congestion pressures.
Wales has performed strongly and the sector can continue to do so if it addresses a shortage of supply with smart, sustainable and customer-focused solutions.
Take-up rose 5%
Availability fell 5.2%
Rents and capital values increased for prime and secondary premises in 2017 with freehold purchases now accounting for up to 55% of total floor space transacted. 2018 has got off to a great start with both the sale of the 47,500 sq ft former Pure Wafer Building in Swansea Vale completed as well as the 26,500 sq ft Fabian Park in Neath / Port Talbot. However, there is an acute shortage of grade A choice accommodation in the market.
Take-up rose 0.8%
Availability fell 3.6%
A lack of new space and development, alongside buoyant demand, has put pressure on existing stock. Voids are low with reduced incentive packages and headline rents at £6.00 per sq ft. The multi-let industrial investment market has experienced significant yield compression. Meanwhile, demand for well let, well configured single let industrial investments that require less active asset management remains robust but yields are not as strong as those in the multi-let sector.
Take-up rose 5.9%
Availability fell 5.8%
The introduction of IP5 at Imperial Park has introduced some much-needed grade A stock into the market and last year saw headline rents increase to £4.50 per sq ft. The secondary market is strong, with high levels of interest and rental values increasing. The removal of the Severn Bridge tolls will boost the sector but the M4 Relief Road will determine how much the region can benefit.