Hachette UK has said it will keep its “federal structure” when it moves all seven of its publishers under one roof.
The firm last night signed a deal for the partially Grade II-listed Carmelite Riverside building at 50 Victoria Embankment, which will become its new London headquarters.
Communications director Clare Harington said: “The rationale will be absolutely to maintain our federal structure. We have got group jobs and it’s just going to make communication that much better. This is a bricks and mortar move." She said the timing of the move was related to finding "a wonderful building.”
Hachette staff were told of the deal yesterday afternoon (19th). Some described their mood as "really positive and buoyant", with those currently based at Euston Road looking forward to a riverside location and easy communication with colleagues in other divisions. However staff based at Orion's St Martin's Lane office voiced fears that the new location would be less advantageous because less central, meaning contacts from the broader industry could no longer pop in for spontaneous meetings.
There were also concerns over a potential open plan layout intended for the new office. However Harington said: “The office lends itself to open plan because it’s big and light but we haven’t decided yet because we haven’t got architects yet.”
The Carmelite Riverside building, which has 135,000 sq ft of office space and a 7,600 sq ft roof terrace, is across the river from the OXO building, and is described as having “panoramic London views” on the website of Quadrant Estates, the development company behind the building, which was appointed by building owners Orion, a fortuitously named European real estate firm.
Hachette UK will occupy most of the building, and in the new year will market two floors, amounting to just under 40,000 sq ft, for sub-letting, Orion and Quadrant said.
Carmelite Riverside will be completed in May 2014, and Hachette plans to move in late next year or in early 2015.
Harrington said Hachette would now appoint an architect to help design the interior of the building, currently “an empty shell”, to the company’s specifications. She said: “There is lots of room in the new building. It is plenty big enough for all of us. We are starting planning it now and will be consulting with all the staff.”
Real estate investment firm Orion purchased the building – the former headquarters of the Daily Mail – in July 2012, and then appointed Quadrant.
Tristram Gethin, managing and founding director of Quadrant Estates, said: “The redevelopment of Carmelite Riverside has been a great success. We are very proud of this superb grade A headquarters office building and securing Hachette UK ahead of completion in May 2014.
“We are extremely pleased to have such a well-known and respected company moving in to Carmelite Riverside; they will enjoy one of the best locations in central London with unrivalled river views and one of London’s most spectacular roof terraces.”
Harrington said it was “far too soon” to talk about whether any staff jobs would be affected by the move.
Reacting to the move, Curtis Brown joint c.e.o. Jonny Geller said: "I don't think it's a sign that they will all start buying together, more a sensible real estate move. I suppose it will make things quicker when going over for an auction – but of course you'll have to be careful about which editors you see in the lift on the way out." Fellow agent Carole Blake of Blake Friedmann commented: "Having moved office in summer, I can only say I'm relieved I don't have to organise moving seven offices. Anybody that can save money by sharing functions is going to do so…They have managed themselves very well over the years."
David Miller of agency RCW said: "If there is any company in the UK that will keep its village-and-neighbouring-village structure rather than turn itself into Milton Keynes, it's Hachette under Tim Hely Hutchinson."