Pioneering software business APD Communications is reinforcing its commitment to Hull by moving to hi-tech offices in the historic heart of the city.
APD has revealed it is to occupy a two-storey building currently undergoing a £2m redevelopment to create a stunning, purpose-designed environment for one of the region’s leading digital businesses.
The company, which develops cutting-edge software for the emergency services and critical control operations, is taking over the landmark former Jobcentre Plus building on the corner of Market Place and South Church Side in Hull’s regenerated Old Town.
The building faces Hull Minster, Trinity Square and the King Billy Statue and will be rebranded as Minster Corner. It is now undergoing a comprehensive conversion to create an ultra-modern tech hub within its traditional exterior.
APD has leased the 15,000 sq ft building and the workforce of more than 100 employees are due to move into their new home in July.
APD has out-grown its current offices across two buildings at the Newland Science Park next to the University of Hull and the move will enable the fast-growing company to bring all its employees under one roof, with room to expand.
Rhiannon Beeson, Commercial Director of APD, who has led the relocation project, said: “This move sets us up for the next chapter of APD’s evolution and we’re really excited by the opportunities it offers.
“The building is being completely transformed, specifically to meet our needs. It will represent who we are and provide the first-class working environment our people deserve.
“We’re very proud to be a Hull business and that we’ll now be playing an even bigger part in the regeneration of the city by moving into the very heart of it.
“Our strong relationship with the University of Hull will continue, particularly in terms of graduate recruitment, and our new location will enable us to strengthen our existing partnerships with the C4DI tech hub and Ron Dearing University Technical College. We’re also keen to develop new links with Hull College.”
She said the new offices would offer a superb working environment in a thriving area, offering a host of lifestyle benefits for staff.
“The building has so much character and personality. It’s not just a bland, new-build office – it’s a fusion of old and new and we think our people will love it,” she added.
“It’s also in a fantastic location, with everything you need on the doorstep. Trinity Market, with so many great street food options, is yards away, and the Marina and Fruit Market are just a short stroll from the office.
“Our employees can make the most of their time outside the office, with so many choices to shop, socialise and relax.”
APD has worked in partnership with Hull-based developer Allenby Commercial to transform the building, which dates back to the 1930s and was Hull’s main Labour Exchange for decades before it closed in February 2018. The building is on the site of the former Edwin Davis department store which was destroyed in a Zeppelin raid in the First World War.
The building has been designed to promote collaborative working and will feature “focus pods” and social spaces.
The ground floor has an impressive reception area, 22-seat conference room, test facilities, meeting spaces, shower rooms and a covered bike store.
The first floor will house APD’s industry-leading development teams and feature several dedicated test labs to facilitate the building of world class software and to enable the teams to replicate customer environments for bespoke testing.
There will be a presentation zone featuring tiered “bleacher” seating, creating the perfect environment for APD’s software developers to work together using agile development practices. There will also be a central refreshments area, a PlayStation and Xbox games room for APD’s staff to relax, and a south-facing roof garden for informal meetings or to enjoy during breaks.
The building will have KCOM’s Lightstream ultrafast broadband, to support rapid software sharing and data transmission, and state-of-the-art video conferencing facilities, enabling APD staff to have virtual meetings with clients around the world.
The site also includes 30 secure parking spaces with APD having secured a further 30 contract spaces in the King William House Car Park just yards away.
Allenby Commercial bought the building in August 2018 and has given it a complete overhaul, removing all the internal walls and installing new mechanical and electrical systems, floors, plumbing and air conditioning.
The transformation to create Grade A offices is being delivered entirely by local contractors and features climate-conscious energy and water saving measures throughout.
Charlie Allenby, Contracts Manager of Allenby Commercial, said: “When we bought the building we could see its potential and felt it should be a company headquarters.
“We’ve taken a derelict Jobcentre and stripped it back to its shell to create a contemporary working environment within a traditional exterior and with a real wow factor. We have worked tirelessly with our contractors and we must take our hats off to all the guys on site who have helped to deliver this project to a tight deadline.
“It’s great that it’s now becoming the new home for a business with a strong history in Hull which is creating hi-tech jobs of today and tomorrow. This is a major investment, bringing a growing company and highly-skilled jobs into the city centre, supporting the local economy and contributing to the exciting regeneration of the Old Town.”
Hull-based workplace design company RFD was appointed by APD and worked alongside Allenby Commercial to design the new offices and will deliver the second phase fit-out.
Managing Director Alex Jenneson said: “The design has been inspired by APD’s business model, working practices and the demographic of its staff. Multi-functional work zones are balanced with creative fun spaces to reflect APD’s contemporary approach to the workplace.
“It will be a modern, tech environment more like what you would expect to see in Shoreditch than in Hull.’’
The office move follows a milestone year for APD during which the business increased turnover to £9.3m – up by 36% over two years – and grew operating profits by almost a third. 2018 also saw APD secure the company’s largest-ever order book, with new customers won across Europe and the Middle East.
Founded by two academics from the University of Hull, APD has developed cutting-edge digital technology in the city for 35 years.
APD is a leading software supplier to the emergency services, public safety and control room markets. The company provides mission critical communications and control solutions used by more than two thirds of UK police forces as well as major transportation hubs and airports, including Gatwick and Dubai international airports and the London Underground.
Pictures: Neil Holmes Photography
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