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Hot Hut Hunt Ends In 1M SF Manchester Airport Landing

The Hut Group's Airport City campus

The Hut Group has ended a summer of speculation that it would take a 250K SF airport office hub by announcing that the rumours were too modest: it plans to take a 1M SF Manchester Airport campus, with a 280K SF first phase.

The development — in four phases over the next three years — is one of the largest-ever occupational deals in the Manchester office market and is claimed by its promoters as the largest bespoke office deal outside of London.

The campus signing also signals the growing significance of e-commerce in Manchester's office market. In August 2018 agreed to take 222K SF at Allied London's St John's development in the city centre, until then the largest deal of the year.

To be branded THQ, The Hut Group's campus will be built over 16.8 acres in four phases, with Phase 1 comprising office buildings totalling 280K SF. An option agreement has also been reached with Airport City Manchester for Phases 2, 3 and 4 of the business campus.

The Hut Group's online empire embraces websites from Zavvi to MyProtein.

Airport City Manchester’s joint venture partners will act on behalf of THG as the project’s developer, working in partnership with creative executive architect, workplace culture strategist and interior designer Penson. A planning application has been submitted, with construction scheduled to begin in early 2019.

The new Hut Group campus at Airport City, Manchester

Summer 2018 has been a scorcher for the Manchester out-of-town office market, much of it driven by rising costs and shortage of large affordable sites in alternative city centre locations, and the perception that the south Manchester business parks have now largely resolved the issues of amenity and access that saw them fall out of favour in the first decade of the century.

New transport infrastructure includes a £15M link road which will help to unlock the future development plots across Airport City North, and the 10 km A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road stretching from Hazel Grove in the east, to Manchester Airport and its ever-growing opportunities. The A6 relief road opens at the beginning of October.

The creation of the campus will mark a significant step in THG’s relationship with Airport City Manchester. The Hut Group already has a presence at Airport City after taking 79K SF in the Voyager and 4M buildings earlier this year. In total, THG has 5,000 employees globally, of which around 1,000 are based at the Manchester Airport offices.

At the second site nearby, THG is building ICON, the Group’s new content creation studio. Following THG’s acquisition and integration in 2017 of content studio Hangar 7, THG has acquired an 11.6-acre site in the Manchester Airport area, which will expand the group’s content production capabilities dramatically. The ICON development, in partnership with Stoford, will provide an extra 104K SF of office space over four floors as well as additional content creation facilities totalling 168K SF. ICON will house 2,000 people who will be focused on video production and photography, to be used across The Hut Group's digital offering.

CBRE and JLL are the retained letting/sales agents on Airport City Manchester.