Pivotal contract exchanged for The Hut Group’s landmark £1bn HQ

THQ Airport City Manchester

Manchester-based online beauty and wellbeing retail giant The Hut Group (THG) and Airport City Manchester have exchanged contracts to develop ‘THQ’, a £1bn global headquarters business campus for THG, in what has been described as a “defining milestone”.

Anchoring the office component of the Airport City Manchester scheme, located adjacent to the UK’s third biggest airport, the first phase of THQ will see the creation of cutting-edge office space totalling 288,000 sq ft.

And underlining the magnitude of their shared ambition, THG and Airport City Manchester have also contracted for another two phases to facilitate THG’s future growth plans to expand the campus to around 1,000,000 sq ft.

Upon completion, this £1bn campus will support up to 10,000 jobs.

Planning approval has already been granted and enabling works are set to start on site in early Summer with the main contract to immediately follow towards a 2022 opening.

This will be the first office space developed at Airport City Manchester and follows news of two hotels recently starting on site, another the subject of a detailed planning application and associated enabling infrastructure, including a £6m pedestrian bridge being built to enhance connectivity to the airport transport interchange.

THG already has a presence at Airport City Manchester with approximately 2,000 of its 7,000 employees globally based in office space at the Voyager and 4M office buildings next to the planned development site.

To support the workforce, both during the construction and operational phases of THQ, a planning application for a temporary 729-space surface car park for THG staff at Airport City Manchester has also been submitted to the local authority.

Separately, immediately to the South of Manchester Airport within the ICON Global Logistics zone, THG is on site developing a new 168,000 sq ft warehouse with associated offices and further 104,000 sq ft of offices and content creation studio which will expand the group’s content production capabilities dramatically, housing around 2,000 people across the studios and four floors of offices.

Construction work is well under way and is set to be completed in late 2020.

Matthew Moulding, founder and chief executive of THG, said: “THQ is a landmark development for THG and another important step in our growth story. As we continue to extend our global footprint, it makes sense for us to base our headquarters at Airport City Manchester, with its global connections and access to talent and supply chains worldwide.”

He added: “THQ and ICON cement our position as a significant player and employer in the UK and we look forward to expanding even further from here, attracting and retaining the most innovative and inventive talent from across the globe.”

Jonathan Haigh, managing director, MAG Property and Airport City Manchester JV partner, said: “This is a defining moment for Airport City Manchester. We are delighted THG has chosen our scheme for its new global headquarters and we advance to the delivery phase together with great enthusiasm.

“We believe this will be one of the UK’s largest bespoke office developments outside of Greater London, as well as one of the largest ever by a company based in the North West.

“It’s an innovative transaction in which we will deliver state-of-the-art business accommodation, and in safeguarding adjoining land parcels for subsequent phases of planned future growth, we reflect and foster a long-term partner-style relationship with THG to grow sustainably together.”

He said: “THG putting roots down at Airport City Manchester presents tremendous benefit to the local and regional economy, not least through significant job creation and we’ll springboard from this deal as we promote our remaining 50 acres of consented development land.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This is an exciting time, not only for Airport City Manchester and The Hut Group, but the North West.

“Airport City Manchester will fill the gap in the market for a high quality and well-connected environment for businesses and with its first office occupier being a well-established, global business such as The Hut Group, this demonstrates the development’s innovative and complementary offer to Greater Manchester’s existing assets and existing dynamic economy.”

Airport City Manchester’s development management team, led by Jonathan Haigh of MAG Property, was supported in the transaction by CBRE and Eversheds Sutherland, with THG supported by Gowlings and creative executive architect, workplace culture strategist and interior designer, PENSON.