Leeds Building Society moves to head office on the South Bank of Leeds

WHEN local businessmen gathered to form the Leeds and Holbeck (Permanent) Building Society in 1875 they must have hoped the mutual would always stay true to its core values and close to its roots.

Richard Fearon, Leeds Building Society’s Chief Executive Officer, was among the first people to start working from Sovereign Street

Today, the mutual - which is known simply as Leeds Building Society - is opening a new chapter in its history, as it moves to a new head office which is within walking distance of the place it was founded.

The building society has begun settling into its new headquarters in Sovereign Street after more than 80 years in its former home at Albion Street’s junction with The Headrow in Leeds.

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The new home for the UK’s fifth-largest building society is around a mile from where the mutual was established in Holbeck in 1875.

The newly-refurbished offices stand next to the River Aire in the South Bank area of Leeds, which has become a focus for regeneration and sustainable development in recent years.

A spokesman said: “In line with all the society’s premises nationally, Sovereign Street is COVID-secure so current social distancing rules limit occupancy to around a third of the workforce usually based in central Leeds.

“Under normal conditions, the building can comfortably accommodate almost 1,000 colleagues who were located at the society’s previous three office sites nearby.

“The majority of these employees have been working from home since the beginning of the pandemic and will continue to do so until public health restrictions ease.”

Richard Fearon, Leeds Building Society’s chief executive officer, was among the first people to start working from Sovereign Street.

Mr Fearon said: “The work and break-out spaces are light, airy and thoughtfully-designed to provide colleagues with inspiring and comfortable surroundings which support the society’s collaborative working culture.

“It was always important for the building to offer plenty of flexibility to accommodate new and evolving ways of working, to help us to future-proof our headquarters for many decades to come.

“The pandemic already has put that flexibility to the test, even as floor layouts were being planned and designed, and our move project team responded with creative and practical solutions to overcome each challenge.

“While lockdowns and social distancing have led to changes to the moving-in process and timescales, this major investment in the future of the society, and in Leeds city centre, was delivered on time and on budget and will reduce our environmental impact as it also enables more efficient ways of working.

“The society’s success in recent years has driven our growth, and the resulting requirement for extra office space beyond the capacity of our former Albion Street building, so this move uniting all our back-office Leeds teams has been in the planning for some time.

“Part of our purpose as a building society is to help people have the home they want and we’re as excited as any home-movers to be taking this big step together into our future.”

Sue Blanche, Development Director for GRAHAM’s Interior fit-out division, which carried out the refurbishment, said: “The completion of the modernisation programme at 26 Sovereign Street signals the start of a new era for Leeds Building Society, and we are proud that our major strip out and refurbishment project has delivered an innovative, sustainable and modern office environment.

“We wish the Leeds Building Society team every success for the future in their new home and we are looking forward to leaving our mark in the region.”