TalkTalk to move HQ to Salford

The telecoms group is to make the Soapworks in Salford Quays its headquarters, telling the Stock Market this morning that “the vast majority of London roles will relocate to Salford in 2019”.

TalkTalk signed for 106,000 sq ft in 2015 at the former Colgate/Palmolive site, moving 1,500 staff in from its Birchwood and Irlam sites the following year – this was in addition to an initial 20,000 sq ft the business occupied in the Boilerhouse at the Ivy Wharf complex.

Around 500 jobs are currently based at TalkTalk’s office in the capital, and while the jobs boost is clearly a huge positive for Salford, at present it is unclear what the move means in property terms.

As Place North West understands the situation, there is some capacity within TalkTalk’s holding at Soapworks, while it also still has possession of the Irlam site, which could be used in the interim should it decide that it needs more space at Soapworks. A spokesman said this morning that “no firm decisions have been made”.

Soapworks is owned by Greater Manchester Property Venture Fund, which said on its acquisition in September 2017 that it intended to build out a further 150,000 sq ft of office space at the scheme, the first two phases of 230,000 sq ft being fully accounted for.

Chris Cheap, regional senior director at GVA, which is instructed as joint agent with JLL, told Place: “We are delighted that TalkTalk are consolidating their business at Soapworks – we have worked hard to create an engaging working environment and this news is real testament to that.

“At the moment we are looking to bring forward the next chapter in the Soapworks story as quickly as we feasibly can and this news doesn’t change that aspiration.”

In a trading update issued this morning, TalkTalk said: “It is crucial our headcount and footprint align with our simpler, more efficient operating model. Nearly two years ago, we created a single home in Salford for our colleagues in the North West. It has improved efficiency, strengthened collaboration and enabled us to attract and retain talent.

“As we further simplify the business, and focus on fewer priorities, we no longer need to be split across two main sites. Now is the right time to consolidate, making Salford the single main campus for the business. The move builds upon our heritage as a North West brand and creates a simpler, more efficient structure that better aligns with our future plans.”

In total, the Soapworks comprises around 400,000 sq ft. GMPVF paid Carlyle £60m for the complex last year.

Carlyle had acquired the site in 2008 and developed it in partnership with Nikal and Abstract Securities. The wider Ivy Wharf site also includes plans for some residential and a hotel.

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It’s one thing where organisations can be carefree with (our or their client’s) money and offer generous relocation packages, but I find it hard to imagine that most staff in this instance won’t just be dumped in favour of cheaper labour.

Not a great result if so.

By Mike