The company is undertaking a significant Central London property investment, with as many as 2,000 employees being relocated. The construction of their new office buildings is predicted to last ten years, and the search for these premises was conducted in secret by CB Richard Ellis. CBRE gave this undisclosed project the name of ‘Project Thunderbird’.
This move marks the end of nearly ten years of weighing up possibilities, which involved a number of set backs for Shell. The company was deliberating over its 50-year endowment of 7 acres of London real-estate, which included a 24 storey Thames-side office block situated opposite the Palace of Westminster.
The decision to take the 200,000 sq ft office at Bank Street was confirmed by a Shell Spokeswoman, who commented “Shell has no permanent plans to leave the tower building on the South Bank and will remain a major employer in the area with established connections to the local community”.
She went on to say that the relocation to Canary Wharf was a temporary decision, so that Shell can redevelop the low-rise buildings opposite the tower. Shell’s move to the Docklands site is part of many cost-cutting moves being made by new Chief Executive, Peter Voser.
Mr Voser replaced Jeroen Van De Veer last year, with the intention of significantly cutting company overheads. Shell’s profits suffered in the fourth quarter of 2009 due to the recession and Peter Voser sets out to cut further costs by $1 billion. Shell sold off the White Horse, which was on of their low-rise properties, to residential developers.
They also made plans to renovate the ground floor and underground floors of the Shell Centre Tower into a leisure and retail complex. The Australian developer, lend Lease, joined forces with Shell and managed to make these plans for a 600,000 sq ft Arup design a reality. However, Lambeth Council brought down this project saying that it was too ambitious and would have an unconstructive effect on the small shopping alley behind Waterloo Station.
Therefore, these plans remain a dream with Shell still needing to select a partner on the project. There are talks that Shell may even sell the site completely if values recover during the ten-year period of development.