New HQ for a new age

The Co-operative Group has unveiled the design for its new £100 million-plus head office building in Manchester — a project which the society says heralds a new era...

To be built on land on Miller Street opposite the Co-operative Insurance Tower, the new building will serve the UK’s largest mutual retailer which, following the acquisition of Somerfield, will have a turnover of over £13 billion.

Chief Executive Peter Marks said that the project would reflect the Group’s ethical values in its design, construction and its relationship both with employees and surrounding communities.

Key features of the building will include:

• Design, construction and operation to the high standards set out in the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method, which will minimise its environmental impact.

• An outstanding design by leading architects 3D Reid, featuring a large central atrium, which will provide the city with an architectural landmark.

• Around 320,000 sq ft of open plan office space on 16 storeys, providing a modern working environment and facilities which will allow greater freedom for flexible working by staff.

Said Mr Marks: “The Co-operative Group was born and raised in Manchester. Our decision to build our new headquarters here is another clear sign of the renaissance of our business and our confidence in the future.

“Our new head office will not only enable us to continue our commercial contribution to city life, but will also play a part in helping to make Manchester a 21st-century leader in sustainable development.”

The new headquarters will represent the first phase in the redevelopment and regeneration of the Group’s 20-acre site, located at the city’s Northern Gateway and bounded by Miller Street and Corporation Street. The Group will be encouraging staff to make full use of the excellent public transport facilities close to the site and car parking provision will be reduced.

Mr Marks added: “We recognise the historic importance of our present premises and we occupy a number of buildings on the site. However, they do not provide the kind of working environment which we want for our business and our employees in the years ahead.

“The new building will be good for our business, good for our staff, good for the communities which surround it and good for Manchester.”

The Group is planning to submit a planning application to Manchester City Council in July. If planning permission is granted, work will start on the building at the beginning of next year with around 2,800 Manchester-based Trading Group staff scheduled to relocate in mid-2012.

Because of the need to examine location options in the wake of the imminent absorbtion of the Britannia Building Society, it is not yet known whether any of the 4,000 CFS personnel based in the city will be accomodated in the new building and both CIS Tower and the Co-operative Bank’s Balloon Street offices are unaffected by the current plans.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We are delighted that an organisation as closely associated with Manchester as the Co-operative Group remains so committed to the city. This welcome investment will act as a catalyst for further employment and regeneration opportunities in the surrounding area.”

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