Former Herman Miller ‘blue building’ gets new lease of life as defence warehouse for Wincanton

February 1, 2018

Logistics group Wincanton has leased the high-profile former Herman Miller distribution base in Chippenham to fulfil a new defence-related contract on behalf of a leading customer.

The 79,000 sq ft building, pictured – a stone’s throw from Wincanton’s Chippenham headquarters – was designed for the iconic office furniture group by leading contemporary architect Sir Nicholas Grimshaw in the early 1980s. 

Known as the ‘blue building’, it was at the time one of the UK’s most innovative warehouses with a flexible facade system made up of interchangeable pressed aluminium panels, windows and doors.

Herman Miller moved out of the building around two years ago when it centralised its operations in a new state-of-the-art building in Melksham. It has also recently opened a new manufacturing and logistics hub in Bath.

The Bath Road building, rebranded as Chippenham 79, was then comprehensively refurbished by LGIM Real Assets (Legal & General) on a speculative basis to help secure a new tenant.

Wincanton, the UK’s largest logistics group, has leased the building for 10 years to fulfil the contract with the unnamed defence firm. The group has a large number of defence-related customers. Three years ago it won a contract with BAE Systems to provide it with logistics and warehousing services to support its UK shipbuilding operations.

Legal & General senior fund manager James Whitehill said: “The level of investment into the refurbishment of Chippenham 79 demonstrates Legal & General’s commitment and confidence in the logistics and industrial sector in the UK.

“The refurbishment also helped us to achieve an Energy Performance Rating of A, significantly boosting the building’s sustainability credentials. We are delighted with the result and are pleased to welcome such a high-profile tenant to the property.”

Cushman & Wakefield acted on behalf of Legal & General, Whitmarsh Lockhart and Lambert Smith Hampton acted as joint agents, while Malcolm Hollis managed the building refurbishment.

Philip Cranstone, associate in Cushman & Wakefield’s Logistics & Industrial team in Bristol, added: “Legal & General’s decision to refurbish Chippenham 79 to such a high standard has certainly paid dividends in helping to secure a high-quality tenant just over six months after practical completion.”

Wincanton property director Ian Henderson said: “Chippenham 79 is a significant addition to our property portfolio, which we are constantly reviewing to meet customer needs. Our position as a leading third-party logistics provider means we’re ideally placed to bridge the gap between the needs of landlords and tenants. This helps us to negotiate the very best deal for our customers.”

Herman Miller recently put its showpiece 20,000 sq ft head office in Chippenham on the market following relocation of staff to Melksham and Bath. The building is one of the West of England’s greenest offices, with an ‘excellent’ rating under the BREEAM environmental accreditation scheme – one of only a handful of buildings in the region to have this.


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