TalkTalk is to move its headquarters out of London, relocating hundreds of staff to Salford as the exodus of major media and telecoms companies from the capital continues.
TalkTalk, which opened a large office at the Soapworks site in Greater Manchester last year to bring together its operations in the north-west, said it intended to relocate the “vast majority” of the 500 roles in London to its new headquarters next year. The company said it planned to keep only 20 to 30 roles at a small satellite office in the capital.
The move will be a fillip for the Manchester area, which is already home to significant parts of the BBC and ITV’s operations, as it missed out – coming a close second – to Leeds as the location of Channel 4’s second “national headquarters” last month.
TalkTalk said the move would simplify the business, bringing significant cost savings. The company, which employs between 2,000 and 2,500 staff across the UK, follows BT in identifying relocation from London as a major cost-saving strategy. In May, BT said it would move out of its central London base at St Paul’s, where it has been headquartered since 1874 when the group was known as the General Post Office, as part of a wide-ranging restructuring to cut £1.5bn in costs.
“As we further simplify the business, and focus on fewer priorities, we no longer need to be split across two main sites,” said Tristia Harrison, the chief executive of TalkTalk.
“Now is the right time to consolidate, making Salford the single main campus for the business. The vast majority of London roles will relocate to Salford in 2019. This will reduce operational complexity and allow us to become a more efficient, focused business, in turn supporting our long-term growth.”
The company said it would start hiring for new posts in Salford, partly through an expansion of its graduate and apprenticeship programme, which it would need to do as many London-based staff would not want to relocate.
The BBC found that nearly 60% of managers refused to move from London to MediaCity when it relocated more than 2,000 staff to Salford; just 31 of 144 agreed to relocate to operations in Birmingham.
Channel 4 has said that 300 of its 800 staff will relocate to Leeds and new “creative hubs” being established in Bristol and Glasgow, but it is still keeping its London headquarters.
TalkTalk also said it would not be going ahead with its £1.5bn joint venture with Infracapital, part of M&G Prudential, to lay full fibre networks to 3m homes in mid-sized towns and cities. Instead, it has launched a new subsidiary, FibreNation, to undertake the roll-out and said it was in talks with potential partners, including Infracapital, to find the “appropriate long-term capital structure” for the business.