Argent reshuffle hits Manchester

Argent has announced a restructuring across the group resulting in several redundancies in Manchester.

James Nicholson, project manager on the proposed 273,000 sq ft One St Peter's Square office block, and Oliver Butler, project manager at The Hive offices of 80,000 sq ft in the Northern Quarter, are to be made redundant but retained as freelance consultants until tenants are found. Clive Bartlam, project director responsible for management of Piccadilly Place, will also be made redundant but remain in a consultancy role.

Marketing manager, Angela Fielding, and property manager, Sinead Jones, will be the two remaining staff based full-time in Manchester. David Partridge, joint chief executive of Argent, said he will spend more time in Manchester to oversee new developments including London Road Fire Station and One St Peter's Square.

Partridge added: "I will be stepping up my personal commitment to Manchester as Argent will be increasing our activity in looking for new opportunities which we can seed now, in order to develop them into the next cycle. We see the North West as the strongest area outside of London and are confident that it will be one of the first to benefit from the recovery when it comes."

Argent directors Gary Taylor and Stephen Tillman have reached a mutual agreement with the remaining directors to set up their own development business, which will work alongside Argent on certain projects.

Tillman and Taylor will take forward Argent's existing schemes at Paradise Circus in Birmingham and Ffos-y-Fran in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, supported by Argent, which will retain a part ownership in both schemes. They have secured options to fully acquire Argent's interest in Paradise Circus and also on assets in Argent's residential land business, which was set up by Tillman and colleague Robert Bolton.

Argent will focus on taking forward its 8m sq ft King's Cross scheme in central London, overseen by Partridge, and associated projects, together with delivering One St Peter's Square in Manchester.

Partridge and joint chief executive Roger Madelin said: "We believe that this represents a natural evolution for Argent, following on from the momentum that has built up at King's Cross and the current focus of investors resulting from the economic climate. With the recent sale of Brindleyplace and level of investment required by the team to deliver the multi-billion pound King's Cross scheme, we have arrived at a point in the history of Argent where it makes sense to review how we deliver current and future schemes.

"Steve and Gary are best placed to take forward our longer term schemes at Paradise in Birmingham and in Wales while Argent will concentrate on completing Eleven Brindleyplace, and on London, the South East, Manchester and other regional centres.

"As one of the UK's largest and most important regeneration schemes, King's Cross provides Argent with a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a new part of London. Together with our partners, we are focusing on an exciting phase of the scheme which will see the first occupiers start to move in and new streets and squares begin to be revealed."

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Genuinely feel for these guys! Absolutely awful to be made redundant – even worse that its out there in print for them too.

By Bunty Rothsay