Moving further east on Hong Kong island – which companies are likely to make the next move?

August 16, 2013 / By

At a recent dinner, some of my friends shared their experiences of having their place of work being relocated out of Central to locations such as Hong Kong East and Wanchai/Causeway Bay. As they shared their stories, some of my other friends at the table who have enjoyed their work lives (as well as social lives) in Central asked me whether I have heard of anything regarding their companies moving in the near future. This ultimately circled around onto a discussion of which companies would likely be next to make the move.

From an industry sector perspective, we have already seen first-hand, several larger banks and accounting firms move part or all of their offices out of the traditional CBD in recent years. While I believe that this trend will continue, another industry sector that may look to make the move is the legal services sector.

Much like the banking sector, the legal services sector has traditionally been located in Central. Of the top 43 international law firms in Hong Kong, all are located in Central. However, in recent years, we have slowly seen some firms making the move away from Central, most notably to Wanchai and more recently to Causeway Bay. The move out of Central is being driven by a combination of high rents and the development of new modern office buildings in locations outside of Central.

Many law firms remain in Central to stay close to their clients and courts. Hence the move away from Central, so far, has been from smaller firms whose practice areas are less focused on financial markets (e.g. Intellectual Property, Shipping, Construction, etc). Larger firms considering a move, like most of the banks, would likely relocate only part of their offices to locations outside of Central as they would still need to maintain offices close to their key clients.

However, with the completion of the Wanchai Bypass in 2017, traveling time from Hong Kong East to Central will be reduced to about 8-10 minutes. This will directly affect some of these law firms, as they start to realise that they can carry out their day-to-day business easily in offices outside Central. The move out of Central will be further enhanced by the opportunities brought about by the completion of new high quality office supply that is scheduled to be completed on Hong Kong Island over the next several years. With a well-known international law firm having just recently committed to relocating to Hysan Place in Causeway Bay and with larger banks more warming to the idea of moving their front offices out of Central, other law firms are likely to follow in the near future.


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