A property website was reporting this afternoon that Croydon’s biggest private employer, Nestle, has decided to quit its headquarters of nearly 50 years and move out of the borough.
The company’s 1,000-strong Croydon-based staff are understood to have received an email informing them to expect an announcement next Tuesday. Over Christmas, Nestle did a deal to lease a vast, new office block in Crawley, junking earlier plans to work with Croydon Council to find a suitable new home in the centre of town before 2014.
“Nestle were made an offer that was just too good to turn down,” a source familiar with the situation told Inside Croydon.
If Nestle’s exit is confirmed, it will blow a massive hole in Croydon’s redevelopment strategy for the town centre, which for at least the past five years has been struck by a planning paralysis, and then blighted by the Credit Crunch.
The move will further undermine Croydon’s pretensions to “city status”.
Nestle’s move would also be disastrous for the local economy, including the many shops, restaurants and pubs which depend on the company’s employees custom for their daily trade.
The Croydon Council’s “press office” failed to return calls or to reply to emails from Inside Croydon asking for a comment on the position. In the absence of a prompt denial from the council, this would seem as good as confirmation that the property website’s report is accurate.
As recently as last September, Croydon Council was claiming to be working to an agreed 2014 deadline to find new office accommodation some where in the town centre for Nestle’s UK headquarters and its employees. The council and its property advisers had earmarked four potential sites, including the Ruskin Square development next to East Croydon station, as new homes for Nestle after the company confirmed that its patience had worn out and that it needed to look elsewhere for a new, more economical headquarters building.
At that time, Tony Newman, the leader of the opposition Labour group at the Town Hall, described even the possibility that Nestle might leave Croydon as “totally devastating news”.
Newman said: “This is a potentially massive jobs crisis for the town.”
Since last August, the mishandling of post-riot grant money and investment from Mayor of London Boris Johnson – who only found £23 million of public cash for Croydon, while the council opted not to pitch for special business development status for the area – is looking as if it was was enough to convince Nestle to leave Croydon.
Nestle’s St George’s House on Park Lane has been its UK headquarters since 1965. The company’s need for at least 80,000 sq ft of office space had been seen by many erstwhile developers as a key part of plans for 21st century offices, to replace what local MP Gavin Barwell has more than once described unfavourably as “Croydon’s brutalist 1960s architecture”.
Now, Nestle have grasped the nettle, and are preparing to move to BT’s former offices at 1 City Place in Crawley, according to the property website which says the company has taken the entire building on a long-term lease from Legal & General.
- Inside Croydon: brought to you from the heart of the borough, free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon
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