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Opportunity Peterborough brings Thomas Cook and Westmount Real Estate together.
After 20 years at its offices in Bretton, Thomas Cook was reviewing its headquarters premises to ensure it was fit for the business’ future. The travel giant first came to Peterborough in 1977 but was faced with major property choices around refurbishing its existing offices or finding new ones (in or outside Peterborough). As the city’s economic development company, Opportunity Peterborough was the holiday operator’s first port of call.
Opportunity Peterborough chief executive Steve Bowyer said: “When Thomas Cook came to us we explored a number of avenues together, including introducing local connections and consultants to look at maximising the existing site. At the same time we were also talking to Westmount Real Estate, which had recently taken over what was then called Lynchwood House. It was an obvious step to put the two organisations together.”
Faced with 112,000sqft of vacant office space, Westmount Real Estate was planning to parcel up the building for multiple lettings while investing in a gradual refurbishment scheme. However, after joining the Opportunity Peterborough Bondholders Network and meeting Steve, a new opportunity presented itself.
Westmount Real Estate director Giles King said: “Opportunity Peterborough played a crucial role, opening our eyes to the possibilities to lease a large amount of space. We had a mutual interest to ensure Thomas Cook didn’t go elsewhere. However, it became clear in our negotiations that we needed more car parking and increasing the number of spaces available was critical to agreeing a lease. Opportunity Peterborough worked with us closely to ensure where there were any roadblocks or hurdles, we were supported to find solutions. The team’s advice and contacts helped us get through the planning process in three or four months instead of the six it should have taken us.”
The 20-acres of land was remodelled to add another 610 car parking spaces to the existing 763 spaces and Thomas Cook took on a new 15-year lease at the renamed Westpoint at Peterborough Business Park, sharing a gym and sports hall with the existing tenant.
Existing tenant Bauer at Media House also benefitted with a new restaurant and more car parking and confirmed its lease until 2023. About 1,800 people are now employed at Westpoint and Media House.
Giles added: “In a quiet and efficient way, Opportunity Peterborough helped facilitate the deal. It’s an example of something Opportunity Peterborough added huge value to, introducing us to the right people, and ensuring a major employer like Thomas Cook has remained in the city.
“Everyone was a winner: Westmount Real Estate, Thomas Cook, Bauer and, of course, Peterborough.”