PwC to expand Birmingham presence in 2019 amid UK-wide reshuffle

06 December 2017 Consultancy.uk

Global professional services firm PwC is headed to Paradise in the summer of 2019, as the company expands its presence in Birmingham, the UK’s second city. The Big Four giant has announced it will occupy the whole first building of the multimillion Paradise redevelopment scheme in Birmingham – shortly after news emerged that the firm was planning to close six other regional presences, elsewhere in the UK.

The firm had already announced an agreement for its staff to occupy four and a half floors of One Chamberlain Square in March 2016. However, in a new development, PwC employees will now take up residence in the whole building when building work completes in 2019. The extension of that 20-year deal to take the whole 150,000 square feet of available office space, including eight floors, could allow PwC to add as many as 1,000 new staff to its Birmingham outfit, as well as relocating its 1,400-strong workforce from their current location on Cornwall Street. PwC was advised on the extension by CBRE and Squire Patton Boggs, while Paradise were represented by GVA and Berwin Leighton Paisner.

The £700 million Paradise project is a joint venture between Birmingham City Council and funding managed by Hermes Investment Management and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, while the construction is being managed by Argent. The site is presently under construction on the former location of Birmingham’s old Central Library, with the whole complex due for completion in 2026. The wider project will host eight office buildings, a new hotel, units for cafés, restaurants and shops alongside a new public realm and traffic system.

Midlands regional chairman Matthew Hammond said, "This is a significant move for PwC and one of the largest regional investments we have ever made in the UK. Our new place in the heart of Birmingham gives us the opportunity to grow and deepen the skills of existing teams and client relationships across the Midlands.”

A CGI impression of One Chamberlain Square, which will be the new home of PwC in Birmingham

Hammond added, "PwC is actively expanding its presence across the UK to match the changing footprint of its clients and make the most of new opportunities in fast growing regions like Birmingham and the West Midlands."

Changing regional presence

PwC is, so far, the only company to have signed a deal to take up residence in the space, as the firm seeks to grow across the Midlands, a region where it also boasts offices in Castle Donington and Milton Keynes. However, the firm has also been reported as planning to close six regional offices, after two internal memos leaked to the British media revealed PwC’s intent to close offices in Sheffield, Plymouth, Liverpool, Norwich, Swansea and Dungannon, in Northern Ireland, from April 2018. Sheffield, in particular, was a surprise member of the list, having only been opened in 2014.

A spokesperson for PwC said the changes would affect fewer than 400 people across all six offices, while a source familiar with the situation told the press that the firm had been “cutting back on expenses” and that staff were told on Friday that redundancy packages would be offered.

Elsewhere in the consulting industry, PwC were joined in their Birmingham expansion efforts by Ramboll. The consultancy has combined its two presences in Birmingham by moving into a new nine-storey A-rated EPC building in the centre of Britain’s second city. The new ten year lease will allow the firm to expand its profile in the Midlands to around 100 personnel.

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