In January 2005, the first departments from a number of sites across London began to move into 1 Churchill Place at Canary Wharf. In the process Barclays either sold or reduced its holdings on pre-existing sites in the city and central London.
A total of 14 London buildings were closed and 5,000 Barclays staff moved during this time to a grand, purpose-built building comprising 32 floors and 1 million square feet, all of which was built in 30 months. By the end of the year a wide variety of services such as Corporate Secretariat, Legal, Risk, Information and Technology, Corporate and Public Affairs, Treasury, the London-based arm of Barclaycard and Large and Medium Business Banking had completed the transfer and were operating from Churchill Place.
Along with the nearby North Colonnade site, headquarters of Barclays Capital, the bank’s investment arm, Barclays created a head office in keeping with its modern and corporate image.
Architects Larry Malcic, with the external brief, and Jack Pringle who was tasked with the interior floor-space, opted for a steel framed design which created large, open spaces intended to encourage communication between staff. The building also incorporated smaller, more private spaces which served as state-of-the-art meeting or training suites and break-out spaces where small groups could gather.
The open floor plan and space management incorporated both business and environmental sustainability by reducing energy consumption and managing noise, allowing a more physically comfortable working environment for staff. The glass panelled design considerably increased natural sunlight throughout the building and afforded impressive views of the London skyline.
The building also included many staff amenities such as easy access to public transport links, extensive restaurant facilities, a gymnasium and a private, multi-faith prayer room. Also included in the design is a roof garden, a sustainable environmental habitat.
The new head office consolidated all aspects of the bank in one place allowing for greater cooperation and coordination so essential to modern success. Just as Barclays had done at the beginning of the 20th century, the new head office building reflected the increasing confidence felt in the business at the beginning of the 21st century at a time of record profits. By May 2005, all departments had relocated and Barclays’ Registered Office address formally changed from 54 Lombard Street to 1 Churchill Place on 31 May 2005.
However, not all head office functions are based in London. During the second half of the 20th century, increasing London costs, staff shortages within the city, and the need for more office accommodation forced Barclays to expand head office functions into facilities based outside the city.
One of the earliest examples of this was the opening of a new Branch Clearing department at King’s Heath, Northampton, a move completed in 1960. The site was opened by Thomas Bland, Barclays Deputy Chairman and Dame Evelyn Sharp, Permanent Secretary to The Ministry of Housing and Local Government. The building was designed with open spaces, more natural daylight and staff comfort and increased car parking in mind.
Barclays presence in Northampton increased when Barclaycard, Britain’s first credit card, set up operations in an abandoned shoe factory in the town. By the early 1970s Barclaycard House, the purpose-built headquarters for the Barclaycard business was up and running. Barclaycard House served as the head office for a largely independent, specialist business which was owned and marketed by Barclays but possessed an ethos and approach largely of its own.
Barclaycard House was subsequently closed, and was completely re-built on another site in 1997. It remains to this day the heart of one of the world’s largest credit card businesses.