Saturday 20 October 2018

Silicon Docks to see the biggest Brexit bounce

Engine room: Google has increased its presence to over 1 million square feet in Dublin. The US tech giant’s Bolands Quay scheme (pictured) is currently under development
Engine room: Google has increased its presence to over 1 million square feet in Dublin. The US tech giant’s Bolands Quay scheme (pictured) is currently under development
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Dublin's standing as a leading location for the global tech industry could be set for a further, and potentially significant boost in the event of a 'hard' Brexit.

That's the view being taken by Knight Frank in a special report compiled by its London, Paris and Dublin offices on the impact so far of the UK's decision to exit the European Union.

While the report's principal focus is on the growing number of financial institutions and professional services providers announcing their intention to relocate all or part of their operations from the City of London to Dublin, Paris, Luxembourg and Frankfurt, it finds our fast-growing 'Silicon Docks' area is best placed to benefit from Brexit.

Knight Frank's view in relation to the tech sector is all the more interesting when one considers that the report entitled, Under Pressure, Brexit, shows that, to date, Dublin has been the destination of choice for UK-based banks, insurers and legal firms signalling their intention to relocate within the EU.

Having recorded almost 200 relocation announcements related to Brexit over a two-year period, beginning from the day after the referendum in June 2016 to the middle of September 2018, Knight Frank found that Dublin accounted for 48, or approximately 25pc, of them. Luxembourg accounted for the next highest number of announcements with 39 projects either underway or planned, while Paris and Frankfurt came in neck and neck with 24 relocation announcements apiece.

While Knight Frank says that the City of London has yet to experience a so-called "Brexodus", its report notes that company move announcements have been increasing steadily, from just one company signalling its intention to relocate from the UK in the quarter immediately after the Brexit vote, to 45 announcements being made in the period from June to mid-September this year.

Commenting on the higher-profile announcements made by JP Morgan and Barclays Bank in relation to the expansion of their Dublin operations, Knight Frank cautions it is difficult to estimate how much of the office space they have acquired here is as a direct result of Brexit.

And while the report's authors expect financial institutions to increase their respective footholds and headcounts significantly in the event of a hard Brexit, they are firmly of the view that the largest positive impact for the Dublin office market is already being manifested in the tech sector.

On this they say: "For an industry that is reliant on drawing its workforce from a wide pool of international talent, we feel that the uncertainty regarding UK work visas post-Brexit is inducing tech companies to choose Dublin. The continued certainty of access to workers from across Europe is undoubtedly a factor that is playing in Dublin's favour at the moment.

"Thus, while the relocation announcements by the big financial firms are grabbing all the headlines, we feel it is the tech industry that holds the greatest potential for a Brexit bounce."

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