Abrdn to save millions by quitting landmark Edinburgh office that can house 1,200 workers
Scottish investment giant Abrdn is quitting its vast offices on Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square as a result of post-pandemic changes to working practices.
The firm’s landmark building at 6 St Andrew Square was commissioned by the then Standard Life Investments in late 2016 and can house some 1,200 people, although actual usage is far lower day-to-day, the firm noted. A spokesperson said the way that Abrdn used its office space had “changed fundamentally since the pandemic”.
They added: “With a hybrid working model now firmly embedded, we’ve been reviewing how our colleagues use our Edinburgh buildings to connect, collaborate, and engage with clients, while taking into account our costs and environmental impact. The decision to relocate our teams into other Abrdn buildings in the city will make better use of space, with less impact on the environment and at lower cost.”
The firm, whose boss recently described 2022 as “one of the toughest investing years in living memory”, said there was no impact on headcount as a result of the move, which will see some 100,000 square feet of high-grade office space hit the market. It will move people out of St Andrew Square through 2023, with the majority of teams moving to its 1 George Street building, and some workers moving to a newly designed space from within its existing portfolio at Broadway Park, The Gyle. The George Street site, which combines the original George Street building with additional office space in a newer building behind, has recently been through a “significant refurbishment”. The move will lead to “substantial cost savings”, in the millions of pounds.
Last month, Abrdn chief executive Stephen Bird described 2022 as “one of the toughest investing years in living memory” after the group swung to a full-year, pre-tax loss and unveiled a disposal involving 140 staff. Bird revealed that the group had racked up a £615 million loss before tax for the year to the end of December, compared to a profit of just over £1.1 billion the year before. Assets under management and administration fell 8 per cent to £500bn while the company reported a further year of net outflows of client funds. It announced a 14.6p per share full-year dividend, broadly in line with analysts’ forecasts.
Edinburgh-headquartered Abrdn, formerly known as Standard Life Aberdeen, was hit by the turmoil in equity and bond markets last year. Rising geopolitical tensions and the conflict in Ukraine have also impacted investment manager earnings. Bird is now two years into a three-year plan to turn around the group’s fortunes and stressed that the business was resilient, generating an adjusted operating profit of £263m in 2022, though that was down by almost a fifth on the prior year.
The annual results came as the group announced a deal to sell its discretionary fund management (DFM) arm Abrdn Capital to Liechenstein-based private bank LGT for £140m. The sale involves the transfer of around £6.1bn of assets and some 140 employees. It is understood that about 45 of those staff are based in Scotland. LGT is the private banking and asset management group owned by the Princely Family of Liechtenstein.