Landowner the Peel Group is preparing to move out of its longstanding headquarters in the Greater Manchester shopping mall after more than two decades and relocate its staff to the Venus building at nearby TraffordCity.
The group cited the impact of coronavirus – in particular a shift by many of its employees to work from home – as the main reason for its move as it seeks to find more cost-effective, “fit-for-purpose”, accommodation.
A spokesperson for Peel said: “In common with many other businesses across the UK, a significant number of our people have been working from home, in line with Government advice.
“Since the Government guidelines have been updated, we have been reviewing in detail how we can most effectively ensure our offices are fit for purpose in the ‘new normal’.
“As a result of that review, we have concluded that we need to move to more appropriate accommodation.”
In the coming weeks, staff will relocate in phases to new offices at the Venus building in TraffordCity – the office, retail and leisure scheme developed by the group’s development arm Peel L&P on a 3.5m sq ft plot immediately opposite the Trafford Centre, over the years since 2015.
The eight-storey Venus comprises 91,000 sq ft of office space off Junction 10 of the M60, next to a range of leisure facilities including the under-construction EventCity.
It is understood that Peel will take a significant chunk of the space, which is already home to multinational businesses including engineering technology firm SPIE and travel agent Travel Counsellors.
“Venue is a modern, efficient building that is better suited to both safeguarding our peoples’ wellbeing and meeting our future business requirements,” the Peel spokesperson said.
The group employs around 2,500 staff but many of those are based in other locations across the North West, including development sites such as Wirral Waters.
Peel L&P built the Trafford Centre in the late 1990s, with the glitzy shopping centre opening in September 1998 as the group’s first landmark building at 2.2m sq ft.
The parent company set up its headquarters in the domed mall and the office is known as the ‘Peel Tower’, after the Peel Tower monument to Sir Robert Peel in group founder John Whittaker’s hometown of Bury.
Peel sold the Trafford Centre to Capital Shopping Centres, which later rebranded as Intu Properties, for £1.6bn in 2011 – one of the largest real estate acquisitions in British history and the biggest European property deal of that year.
The group retained a 24.6% stake in Intu, which collapsed into administration in June this year after failing to strike a deal with lenders to pay down an estimated £4.5bn in debt.
Peel said at the time it expected to see no financial impact on its operations from Intu’s demise, despite its sizeable shareholding in the company.
The Trafford Centre has continued to operate throughout the administration process, as it is owned as an independent special purpose vehicle in the same way as Intu’s other 16 shopping centres across the UK.