PwC opens its largest UK office outside London as it moves into its landmark new Belfast home, Merchant Square, with space for several thousand staff
The professional services firm is the sole tenant of the 200,000 square feet building on Wellington Place, which can accommodate 3,000 people. The nine-floor complex is Belfast’s biggest private sector office letting deal.
It is part of a major commitment by PwC to strengthen its regional offices and support local talent and businesses. Last month PwC also announced a £40m investment in developing an Advanced Research and Engineering Centre in Merchant Square, creating up to 800 jobs over five years.
Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner, PwC UK, said: ‘We’re committed to playing a leading role in driving growth across the UK, helping to build a vibrant and sustainable economy. We see the commercial and societal benefits of basing our own operations across the country and Merchant Square is the latest in a number of offices we’ve opened in the last 18 months.
‘In Belfast, we’re supporting the fast-growing technology sector by locating our £40m Advanced Research and Engineering Centre in Merchant Square. This places the city at the centre of our technology strategy and creates hundreds of world-class career opportunities.
‘Like many other big employers, we are focused on flexible ways of working as part of our new deal for our people and the office remains an important part of that. With its dedicated wellbeing space for our people, multiple spaces for collaboration and reconnecting with colleagues and an innovative application of technology to improve the experience of remote working - we believe Merchant Square addresses many of the questions about the role of the office.’
Merchant Square sets the tone for a new future for the office, with hybrid working enshrined in a new deal for its people, a wellbeing space that takes up half an entire floor and an elegant fusion of technology and interior design.
A diverse steering group, from graduates to senior partners, collaborated over the last two years to ensure the new office met the needs of the wider Belfast team and its network of clients and regional partners. With a focus on encouraging collaboration, spaces can be transformed from intimate meeting rooms for six people to large event areas for up to 150. Booths in the restaurant come with screens so teams can connect over lunch with people working remotely. Face and voice-tracking technology has been installed in enclosed meeting spaces to ensure that the hybrid-meeting experience continues to support all participants.
A stand-out feature is located on the 5th floor, where the dedicated wellbeing space offers live exercise classes including HIIT and yoga, meditation pods and personal services such as physio, reflexology and manicures. Covid-19 safety measures include restricted access via a scheduling bot and temperature checks at the entrance.
Kevin MacAllister, PwC’s regional market leader in Northern Ireland, said: ‘Together with my partners, I am delighted to open the doors to this office in the heart of Belfast city centre. This is an important step forward and signifies the confidence that PwC has in Northern Ireland, and our ambition for our clients and our people.
‘As we look towards the future, we’re fully aware of the significance of opening a city centre office. Our people are what makes us the leading professional services firm and we know they value having a place to come together and collaborate. As we support them to do this safely, we’re also supporting the economy by bringing our workforce back into the city centre and helping local business recover.’