Capital&Centric completes acquisition of iconic Littlewoods building in £35m investment

The Littlewoods building

Social impact property developer Capital&Centric has completed its acquisition of the 180,000sq ft former Littlewoods building and an adjacent six-acre development site on Edge Lane in Liverpool as part of a £35m investment which will bring 350 jobs to the city.

It has agreed a 250-year lease with Liverpool City Council to deliver a major hub for film, television and other creative industries, contributing to regeneration, job creation and promoting further investment.

Sir John Moores, and his brother Cecil were the owners of Littlewoods which was the country’s wealthiest family-owned business empire, covering department chain stores, catalogue shopping, and football pools.

The building was constructed during 1938 in an art deco style. It was used to used to process the betting slips from the Football Pools.

The buildings were occupied by 2,000 members of staff, in the 1960s a concrete hangar was added to join the two buildings and create a 30,000sq ft canteen for the workers.

Itss vast internal spaces were enlisted in the national interest during WWII. At the outbreak of the war the building’s mighty printing presses were used to print some 17 million National Registration forms in just three days.

The floors of Halifax Bombers were assembled at the building as well as barrage balloons. Its design was such that it became the nerve centre of MC5, the government agency that intercepted and censored mail to break enemy codes.

Bomb shelters in the basement areas of the building still contain artwork and graffiti on the walls dating from the 1941 wartime blitz.

Tim Heatley of Capital&Centric said: “This acquisition marks an important milestone for us, it is the result of more than five years hard work and the next step in realising our vision for this high profile site.

“Liverpool City Council and the Homes & Communities agency have been very supportive of our plans for this iconic building, which forms an important gateway to the city.

“We’re excited at the opportunity to restore the Littlewoods Buildings and give it an exciting new lease of life that will put it on a national stage and finally give it the recognition that it deserves.

“Last year we completed the speculative redevelopment of the neighbouring Bunker building, which is now fully let. Bunker has successfully attracted a mix of media and tech companies that will inspire the future of our Littlewoods scheme and we can’t wait to get started.

“Our vision for the site is to see it not just become the heart of Liverpool’s vibrant film and media industry, but a draw to companies in this sector both nationally and internationally. We aren’t looking for companies interested solely in co-location, but in collaboration, to be a part of a hub that can fully capitalise on Liverpool’s world-class offer as a filming location.

“We are in the last throws of finalising the legal agreements with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority for gap funding to secure the long-term future of this iconic structure. We already have a significant amount of occupier interest which is testament to the standing of the building, given we haven’t yet commenced any marketing activity.”

Social impact developer Capital&Centric is wholly owned by founders Tim Heatley and Adam Higgins. It is developing more than £500m of property in Manchester and Liverpool. It currently spends £2m a week on its regeneration activity, which will rise to £3m a week by the third quarter of 2017.