British Land boss says financial firms still value London and "believe in its place as a global centre"

Rebecca Smith
British Land's boss said firms were taking longer to make decisions but still valued the capital
British Land's boss said firms were taking longer to make decisions but still valued the capital (Source: Getty)

British Land's boss has said that while Brexit uncertainty will continue as companies draw up contingency plans, financial firms still value the capital as a global hub.

Discussing the property giant's full-year results, British Land's chief executive Chris Griggs, who formerly headed up Barclays' commercial banking arm, said:

London occupiers, particularly financial institutions, are making contingency plans, but there is a wide range of possible outcomes here. Our conversations with occupiers tell us that a large majority continue to value London and believe in its place as a global centre, as we do.

Read more: British Land boosted by Cheesegrater sale despite Brexit uncertainty

He did though, acknowledge that businesses were "taking longer to commit and being more thorough in assessing options", and added that the firm saw polarisation of both occupier and investor demand accelerating with "an increasing focus on the best quality space".

Griggs added that the outlook was "a mixed one", with Brexit uncertainty still to continue for the foreseeable future. While the UK economy had "performed well since the vote", British Land expects more inflation and increasing pressure on disposable incomes.

Much of the discussion around possible post and even pre-Brexit moves has centred on financial services, with concerns flagged over the capital's passporting rights, allowing firms to use it as a base for trading with the rest of the European Union.

It comes after a flurry of reports regarding potential moves by businesses with Brexit on the horizon. Last month, Deutsche Bank said it was mulling moving up to 4,000 jobs away from London.

Barclays boss Jes Staley has also said that City firms would need to begin implementing contingency plans before they are given clarity on Brexit, because he does not expect certainty any time soon.

And in March, a top executive at Goldman Sachs said the investment bank will start to shift hundreds of jobs away from the capital, as it felt the final Brexit deal was too far into the future with no guarantee transitional arrangements would be secured.

Economics think tank Bruegel has estimated that the City stands to lose 10,000 banking jobs and between 18,000 and 20,000 other professional services positions.

Read more: Frankfurt is already seeing interest in the city rise as a result of Brexit

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