Exclusive: Burberry to sell its land in Leeds

Luxury retailer Burberry is to sell the 10 acres of land it owns in Leeds next to the Grade I listed Temple Works building after deciding the land is not suitable for its development plans.

The Grade I listed Temple Works building in Leeds
The Grade I listed Temple Works building in Leeds

In 2017, Burberry let an option lapse on the building in Leeds’ South Bank, but the firm still owns the land in Leeds.

The luxury fashion brand had been considering whether to develop the land it owns next to the building or whether to maintain the sites it currently owns at Castleford and Keighley in Yorkshire. Another option was to build a new green field site.

Now Burberry has decided to sell the land in Leeds and invest in its two sites in Castleford and Keighley.

The iconic Burberry Heritage trench coat is made in Yorkshire

The plans are at a very early stage and it is not yet known who the land will be sold to.

Julie Brown, Burberry’s chief operating and financial officer, said: “We can confirm that we have decided to sell the land we own in central Leeds.

“After a detailed review, we concluded that the site is not suitable to support our plans.

“We remain committed to Yorkshire and the UK, and as part of this we will continue to invest in our existing manufacturing operations in Castleford and Keighley, home to our iconic Burberry Heritage trench coat.

“We will also continue to grow our shared services centre in Leeds, which opened in 2017.”

Burberry said the decision has nothing to do with Brexit.

In January 2016, Burberry announced plans to employ more than 1,000 people at a new manufacturing and weaving facility for its heritage trench coat in the South Bank of Leeds with an initial investment of £50m. The facility was supposed to be completed in 2019.

The site would have replaced the two existing manufacturing and weaving centres in Castleford and Keighley.

The plan was for all the teams from Castleford and Keighley to move to the new site, bringing all employees together under one roof. The company employs 700 staff in Castleford and around 70 in Keighley.

The plan was to hand the Keighley and Castleford sites back to the local community, so they could be used for regeneration schemes.

The scheme was the brainchild of Burberry’s former chief creative and chief executive officer Christopher Bailey, who was born in Halifax.

However, the plans to open the new state-of-the-art facility at the Temple Works building was scrapped in July 2017.

In addition to its Castleford and Keighley manufacturing sites, Burberry said it will continue to invest in its Burberry Business Services site in Leeds, where it employs over 350 people.

Ms Brown said the firm is very pleased with the progress of the Leeds office.

The office at 6 Queen Street in Leeds city centre has brought together teams from finance, HR, procurement, customer services and IT.

When it was constructed in the 1830s, the Temple Works was one of the most technologically advanced buildings in the world, home to a state-of-the-art heating system, a complex network of underground tunnels and a lighting system that kept the factory illuminated around the clock.

With its striking Egyptian frontage, it has served as a flax mill, clothing factory and home to a catalogue company over the years before finally falling into disrepair and neglect in the last few decades.

New owner, developer CEG purchased the building for £1 a year ago and has invested the best part of £1.5m into the site.