The second occupier of one of the North East’s flagship business hubs has been announced by Sunderland City Council today [Monday, October 14].
Penshaw View, an expanding training provider and health and safety business which was founded and has expanded in Sunderland, has taken a large ground floor space in the 59,427 sq ft council-owned building, the first constructed on the former Vaux Brewery site.
The family-run company – which was founded in 2011 and now employs 30 people – has relocated all of its team to its new HQ in a move that will create capacity for ongoing expansion. It has kept a separate space in the city centre, where its training programmes are delivered.
Penshaw View expects to add to its number over the coming 12 months, with 20 per cent growth in its headcount forecast. Philippa Breckon, director at Penshaw View, which counts Amazon, Warburtons, Pavers and Parkdean Resorts among its clients, said the company was delighted to be in a position to stay in Sunderland, creating more jobs for people from in and around the city.
She said: “As a business that was born here, we were keen to remain in Sunderland, as we push forward with our growth plans. We are absolutely thrilled to be able to do so by taking space in The Beam.
“The centre is one of the most prestigious business spaces in the North East, something that was proven with the announcement that Ocado will be opening its base here later this year, and we’re proud that we will be working alongside them from what is a fantastic environment for our team.”
The announcement follows a string of positive developments in Sunderland city centre, which is reaping the benefits of a £1.5bn programme of public-private sector investment, in the 15-year period to 2030.
Ocado announced plans to open a base in Sunderland just weeks after work on The Beam had completed, and the second phase of work on the development-site, which will see a new City Hall for Sunderland, is set to get underway within weeks.
Among other exciting new city centre developments is a 120-room Holiday Inn hotel on Keel Square; a 450-seater auditorium, that is now under construction in the city’s Cultural Quarter; a new business centre, in the former River Wear Commissioners Building as well as announcements in Seaburn of a STACK development and proposals for a pub with rooms from the Inn Collection Group.
Philippa added: “There is a growing sense of ambition and momentum in Sunderland right now and we’re delighted to be able to remain a part of it and cement our position in the city with this move. The Beam is a stunning space, and as a business that is built on health and safety, the building’s wellbeing credentials made it very attractive to us.
“We’re looking forward to moving in, and growing our team from this fantastic new base.”
The company offers a range of apprenticeships in areas spanning health and safety, management, learning and development, HR and general customer service courses, as well as short course delivery. Its health and safety arm supports businesses with training and consultancy.
The announcement of the company’s arrival in The Beam means the building now has two businesses occupying the top floors and one of the two ground floor units between them. Two floors, the mezzanine, which is suitable for smaller businesses, and one ground floor unit are still available with discussions ongoing in relation to various positive enquiries.
Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said the announcement was another vote of confidence in the city from a firm that has proven that this is a place in which businesses can thrive.
He said: “Penshaw View is a fantastic business that has enjoyed immense success – particularly over the last few years – so it is an absolute thrill to see them take up space in The Beam alongside a hugely successful global enterprise.
“Buildings like The Beam, that provide our indigenous companies with the opportunity to remain and grow in Sunderland, are absolutely paramount in establishing a positive ecosystem, through which the city can retain as many growing businesses as possible. Penshaw View’s decision to stay in Sunderland, on the strength of this building’s unrivalled offer, is vindication of this.
“We are delighted with today’s announcement and look forward to watching the business continue on its upward trajectory from its stunning new base.”
The development of The Beam was supported by the North East LEP, which recognised the Vaux site as a major regeneration site. It received £10.8m from the government’s Local Growth Deal through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in addition to loan funding of £2.5m from the North East Investment Fund (NEIF).
Helen Golightly, chief executive of the North East LEP, said: “We’re delighted with the news that Penshaw View will join Ocado in making this exciting development their new home.
“The Local Growth Fund exists to invest in key employment sites across the North East such as the wider Vaux site and it’s clear that The Beam is proving an attractive location for companies coming into the region and for those already here and looking to grow.”
Penshaw View is currently working from two separate offices in Sunderland, with its team split between sites in Frederick Street and Athenaeum Street. It has been looking at alternative office spaces both in Sunderland and further afield, but it was The Beam’s riverside location and the prestige of the space that sealed the deal.
“When you’re looking for larger office spaces that can provide the flexibility needed to aide further expansion, you really do need to widen the net and we did consider spaces beyond the boundaries of the city.
“However, we genuinely found The Beam to be the best building by some distance, which – as someone who has set up and grown a business here and wants the best for Sunderland – is hugely encouraging for the city’s future.”