The Co-operative Group has begun a search for a 200,000 sq ft Manchester headquarters for its 3,000 staff following a six-month property review.

The group said today it was considering a number of options for its staff which are currently housed in six buildings on a 20 acre site which it owns on Corporation Street. The decision has been driven by rising maintenance costs at the site which are expected to amount to more than £100m during the next 10 years.

Co-op options

Its options include building a new headquarters to anchor a mixed-use regeneration of the site or a total relocation within the city centre or Greater Manchester. The move is not expected to take place for at least two years.

It said it would work with Manchester City Council to draw up a masterplan for its existing site near Manchester’s Victoria Station which it has occupied for more than 100 years.

Lynda Shillaw, director of property for the group, said: ‘The momentous decision to move has been made and now we must look at whether a relocation elsewhere or a new build on the site is appropriate. Either way a masterplan for the entire site including a mix of uses will create significant value for the group and the city.’

Cost savings driven

She said any move, which would create a yearly £10m saving, would also consider the future occupation requirements of the group’s financial services businesses – Co-operative Financial Services (CFS) – which is headquartered in Balloon Street and Miller Street. However, CFS has also pledged to retain its headquarters in Greater Manchester.

In January the Co-Operative Group plans to sell its 27 remaining department stores through subsidiary CWS as a £100m portfolio.