Two of the town’s most well known and striking commercial buildings have been let again to expanding businesses.
Arclite House in West Swindon is the former Cellular Operations HQ and housed Vodafone’s consumer arm until the mobile phone giant closed its Swindon operation in June 2003.
From the spring, the glass and steel structure, next to Peatmoor Lagoon, will be the new home of one of Swindon’s most rapidly-rising businesses – Wanborough-based business communications specialist HSM.
Dealing with business-to-business and business-to-consumer campaigns, HSM numbers Vauxhall, Miele, Vodafone Business, the AA and JCB among its clients.
“Because of our phenomenal success, we?ve grown from 40 employees to more than 170 permanent staff in the last five years,” said Helena Stevens, HSM’s MD.
“Moving away from Swindon wasn’t an option. We’re proud of our town and our people, but we’ve outgrown Contact House in Wanborough. So we were incredibly excited to be able to lease the major part of Arclite House. The British press has described it in the past as ‘the happiest workplace in Britain. This is why we chose this spectacular building; we know there’s a vital link between employee satisfaction and client satisfaction.”
Owned by London-based development company Baylight, the 38,000sq ft building in Hillmead Business Park is filled with light and its ventilation system draws cool air from the adjacent lake. It won Best Large Office at the FX Magazine International Interior Design Awards in 2000, and has many innovative features, including one restroom which has cast-glass wash basins and electronic taps and another made entirely of black marble.
Before staff move in, HSM is commissioning an internal refurbishment to create a new work environment with plenty of space for employees to relax with coffee bars, internet cafes, magazine lounges and creativity rooms. There will also be dedicated training areas, as HSM are passionate about training and helping employees reach their potential.
“We have liaised extensively with our staff about what they want. We have also asked for input from those who worked in the building previously to gain first hand knowledge of what is needed – for example our space per employee will be almost doubled,” says Helena, adding that several HSM staff worked for Cellular Operations when they occupied Arclite House, and are now looking forward to returning to the building when it has been refurbished.
This major new letting comes soon after new tenants were found for another well-known Swindon landmark – Sir Norman Foster’s yellow Spectrum building in Westmead, which used to be the Renault distribution centre.
After winning a major contract with Hollywood’s Universal Pictures, German owned DVD production firm ODS Business Services has just moved into the building in order to double its workforce and produce tens of thousands of DVDs weekly.
These lettings take place against a background of growing business confidence in the town.
Recent research by the South West Regional Development Agency shows Swindon is the fourth most productive town in the UK with its manufacturing and service sectors growing particularly fast.