EXCLUSIVE: HSBC heralds 'biggest Sheffield property deal in 10 years' as construction of retail quarter office block begins
As staff gathered on the site where the Grosvenor House Hotel stood yesterday, bosses said the six-storey block - the first phase of the new retail quarter - was a sign of the bank's commitment to Sheffield.
Chief operating officer James Emmett called the development 'world class' and 'a real statement', both to HSBC's 2,700 Sheffield staff and to the rest of the city.
He spoke about the potential to develop new skills among the city's workforce.
And with cranes due to go up on site shortly, he highlighted Sheffield's key role in the bank's work across the world.
"This is a really big deal," he said. "It's hugely exciting for us and for Sheffield.
"This is the biggest real estate transaction that's taken place in Sheffield in over 10 years. That, to me, is a real statement from HSBC."
He added: "It will be a much more dynamic environment. This is world class."
HSBC's current office is Griffin House, off Silver Street. The bank runs much of its UK and European IT services from Sheffield, but also handles a lot of global work in the city.
Mr Emmett called Sheffield a 'landmark' location, and praised Sheffield Council for working with the bank to secure the new 140,000 sq ft office currently under construction.
"The co-operative work across the board has been really good," he said.
"The redevelopment of the retail district is really important in its own right.
"The partnership between all parties has really worked. And it has also enabled us to make that commitment."
HSBC has signed a 15-year lease on the new building, which is due to be ready in spring/summer 2019.
The bank will move all of its Sheffield staff there from Griffin House.
With a rooftop terrace and a gym to complement the grade A office space, it will be a significant upgrade for the workforce.
Mr Emmett said the new building would allow HSBC to be at the forefront of skills development.
"Clearly we have got some expertise already in the region," he said. "We have been able to do a lot in terms of working internationally."
Mr Emmett said the firm would fall behind without a 'continuous' development of staff skills, and the 'dynamic' new office would help both upskill current staff and attract new workers.
This includes the 85 apprentices currently on the books.
And he said the retail quarter as a whole, combined with cheap land prices in Sheffield, would help fuel creativity and encourage enterprise and. HSBC currently supports about 7,000 businesses in Sheffield.
"Location is always important," said Mr Emmett. "Facilities around the location are important.
"People like environments where they can work, but also relax."
He added: "Being part of a strong city centre location is key."
A group of the bank's Sheffield staff accompanied Mr Emmett for yesterday's ground breaking ceremony, with most capturing the moment with their smartphones.
This kind of engagement is a priority for HSBC.
Mr Emmett said: "We are getting staff involved in a naming competition for the new building.
"I know people are excited and intrigued."
The city council is working with real estate specialist Queensberry on plans for the second phase of the retail quarter, which will involve shops, restaurants, a hotel and a new department store.
The authority's chief executive John Mothersole said: "This is a key moment in the delivery of Sheffield’s city centre regeneration and a major milestone in the delivery of the much-anticipated retail quarter.
"We welcome HSBC’s decision to make this location their new regional home, which demonstrates the continuing confidence from major international employers towards Sheffield.”