US investment bank Citi has announced a blockbuster, multi-year plan to overhaul its £1 billion Canary Wharf headquarters as it adapts to new ways of working and goes green.
Citi, which employs 9,000 people in London, today announced a major refurbishment of its 42-story office tower at 25 Canada Square, which it bought for a reported £1 billion in 2019. The block is to be totally overhauled in a project set for completion by 2025. It will cost upwards of £100 million and will be one of the biggest office refurbishments in Europe.
The refurbishment is a major vote of confidence in London’s future as a global financial hub post-Brexit and in the future of the office post-pandemic. Some commentators had suggested the rise of flexible working could be the death knell for offices.
Citi’s UK boss James Bardrick said the overhaul had been in the works for a “long time” but the pandemic had influenced the bank’s planning. He said the new headquarters would be “less of a box to put desks in and more a place to collaborate and innovate.” It will feature more open plan space, a winter garden and “well-being” space, among other innovations.
“We’re seeing most of our people come back to the office now and we are able to invest in their future,” he said. Citi last week told staff to return to the office at least three days a week in line with government guidance.
City minster John Glen said the development was “another vote of confidence in the City and its role as one of the preeminent international finance hubs.” Canary Wharf CEO Shobi Khan said he was “delighted Citi is making a long-term commitment” to the area.
Citi has had a presence in London for over 100 years and Bardrick said the UK was an “excellent” base for the bank’s European operations and some of its top executives, citing Britain’s strong rule of law, talent pool and standing in the world.
A separate survey carried out by EY and published today found 87% of global financial services firms plan to establish or extend operations in the UK in 2022, the highest level of confidence since the firm began measuring sentiment after the Brexit vote.
Bardrick said Citi’s Canary Wharf refurb was a “very, very significant” investment in the bank’s future in London.
The overhaul will also make the nearly 25-year-old tower block Citi’s “greenest facility ever,” he said.
“This will be a zero carbon building,” Bardrick said. “It really helps us as a company to meet our own environmental commitments.”
Innovations include recycling hand basin and shower water for use flushing toilets, part of plans that will see the building’s energy and water use reduced by 20%.
During the refurbishment, most of Citi’s London staff will move across the road to 33 Canada Square, which the bank also occupies.
Evening Standard (Oscar Williams-Grut) - https://www.standard.co.uk/business/citi-canary-wharf-office-refurbishment-james-bardrick-esg-b978832.html