Manchester move set to affect up to 7,000 Co-op staff

UP to 7,000 Co-operative Group and CFS staff could be affected by moves to vacate buildings in Manchester’s historic Co-op complex.

UP to 7,000 Co-operative Group and CFS staff could be affected by moves to vacate buildings in Manchester’s historic Co-op complex.

The Co-operative Group has announced its intention to either build new headquarters in the area or move out to new premises in the city or Greater Manchester, thus helping to facilitate the regeneration of the city’s northern gateway.

The Group says it is looking at a range of options, including building on its own landholdings in the city or relocating. The move is not expected to take place for at least two years and, in the meantime, the Group plans to work with Manchester City Council on a regeneration

masterplan for the existing site.

The Group’s decision has been taken in the face of rising maintenance costs for its existing dated office complex fronting Corporation Street. This includes the 13-storey New Century House office block. These costs are expected to add up to over £100 million within the next 10 years.

As a result of the proposed relocation, the Group expects to generate annual savings of at £10 million as well as realising the development value of the site as part of the regeneration of the area.

No decision has yet been taken over the future occupation requirements of Co-operative Financial Services headquartered in Balloon Street and Miller Street. This continues to be reviewed against business needs. However, CFS, which employs 4,000 people in the city, has also pledged to retain its headquarters in Greater Manchester.

The board of Co-operatives UK, owners of Holyoake House in the heart of the complex — which houses the Co-operative College and Co-operative Press among others — were due to discuss the proposals as the News went to press. 

Lynda Shillaw, Director of Property for the Group, explained: “As a successful, expanding business, we want to ensure our employees have a modern workplace with up-to-date facilities — this is simply out of reach at our present premises, which are tired and in need of major investment. 

“When balanced against the commercial benefits to be gained by relocation and redevelopment of this site, such investment just does not add up.”

Added Ms Shillaw: “The co-operative landholdings have great potential to boost the city’s commercial vitality and its ability to generate employment — a masterplan for the entire site will enable this potential to be fully achieved.”

Neil Buist, General Secretary of the National Association of Co-operative Officials (NACO) — the trade union representing most of the staff in Manchester’s Co-op complex — told the News: “It’s very early days regarding any possible move and the Group has promised a full consultation process as things develop. 

“Clearly, the proposals could affect thousands of our members and we will be liasing closely with them as soon there is anything further to report.”

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