Gamestec puts historic HQ on the market

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BRITAIN’s largest gaming and amusement machine operator has put its Yorkshire headquarters up for sale as takeover talks continue.

Gamestec Leisure, which is based in an historic silk mill in Horsforth, Leeds, is selling the building for £1.5m after deciding to move to a nearby business park.

Last month, Astra Games, the UK-based subsidiary of Austrian Gaming Industries and part of the Novomatic Group of companies, confirmed that it was in discussions to acquire certain assets of the Danoptra Gaming Group, including Gamestec.

Yesterday, Gamestec confirmed the talks are still ongoing.

The company, which provides services for more than 35,000 amusement machines in the UK and employs 700 staff, including 95 in Leeds, plans to move to WIRA Business Park in Horsforth in the summer.

It recently put up Horsforth Mills for sale after deciding to downsize.

The 60,000 sq ft building is set in 1.73 acres and was built in 1904. The four-storey building also has a modern two-storey office extension, comprising 20,000 sq ft, as well as a three-bedroom lodge house at the entrance to the mill complex.

There is a car park with more than 150 spaces.

The building, which dates back to 1904, occupies an important place in the history of Horsforth.

During the Second World War parachutes were manufactured at the mill, followed by lamps and light bulbs after the war.

However, production ceased in the 1960s and the Machine Hire Group, later to become Gamestec, moved in during the 1970s.

Neil Lancaster, HR director at Gamestec, who is handling the sale, said: “We only occupy 10-15,000 sq ft of the building at the moment so this is a downsizing exercise in response to the change in the market place.

“We used to do major distribution from here but that hasn’t happened for a long time now and we have found a more modern environment to operate from.”

The company reduced its Leeds-based workforce by about 20 per cent in the downturn prior to 2010 but Mr Lancaster said the last 18 months had been “stable” for the company.

Gamestec will now move its head office administrative functions, including marketing, human resources, finance, and IT support teams, to 15,000 sq ft at WIRA.

Mr Lancaster said: “We are very sad to be leaving Horsforth Mills, but our new offices at WIRA Business Park are more appropriate for us as our business develops.”

He added: “We are like peas rattling round at the moment. At WIRA, we will all be together in an open plan office.”

Mike Haigh, partner at Leeds-based property consultants Dove Haigh Phillips, which is marketing the mill, said: “We envisage an owner-occupier buying the site, potentially removing the more modern extension, refurbishing the mill to a high standard and then renting out the rest of the available office space.

“The combination of an historic ambience and quality office space, with original features, and a superb location is irresistible and we are expecting a great deal of interest now the mill is on the market.”

It’s not the first time the company has put its headquarters up for sale. The company tried to sell the building in 2008 but took it off the market again.

Gamestec operates machines for customers in a range of markets, including pubs, bars, leisure venues, licensed betting offices, clubs, bingo halls, casinos and adult gaming centres.

The company has operated in the gaming and amusement machines business for more than 50 years.

Astra Games, the UK-based subsidiary of Austrian Gaming Industries and part of the Novomatic Group of companies, confirmed last month that it is in discussions to acquire certain assets of the Danoptra Gaming Group, including Gamestec.

Mr Lancaster said Gamestec expected the takeover to have a positive effect on the company’s future.

“Astra are a large international, family-owned business and are keen to invest in the UK and develop the UK market,” he said.