Farm machinery maker CLAAS plans new headquarters
- Credit: Archant
German farm machinery maker CLAAS is planning to build a new, multi-million pound headquarters near Bury St Edmunds.
The scheme, at its current site Saxham Business Park off the A14, will house CLAAS UK and its dealer, MANNS of Saxham, and involves the complete redevelopment of their current premises.
It is hoped the new, signature building will reflect the firm’s importance in the UK agricultural industry and the site’s prominent position alongside the A14, it said. Following talks with planning officers and councillors, the scheme has received support in principle, subject to the submission of detailed plans in the New Year, the firm said.
Chief executive of CLAAS UK Trevor Tyrrell said the current site had reached maximum capacity.
“By giving go-ahead for this new building, both the CLAAS Group and the Claas family have shown their commitment to both CLAAS in the UK, and also to west Suffolk where we are now one of the largest employers.”
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The West Germany-based group, founded more than 100 years ago and still privately owned by the Claas family, is one of the largest private agricultural machinery manufacturers in the world and operates 14 manufacturing plants around the world, employing 11,300 people.
The history of CLAAS and Saxham, which is also home to the CLAAS Academy training centre, dates back to the 1930s when local farmer Bill Mann started importing CLAAS combines from Germany.
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The MANNS company moved to the site at Saxham during the 1950s and the current headquarters building has been a landmark alongside the A14 for many years. It was constructed in the 1960s and has been extended piecemeal since then, the firm said.
Today, CLAAS UK employs over 400 people throughout the UK and Ireland and is the market leader for both combine harvesters and self-propelled forage harvesters, and has a rapidly growing customer base for its tractors.
“When the current building was constructed, they would never have imagined that 50 years later we would now have over 100 people working on site and that as the headquarters for CLAAS UK, it would be providing sales, service, parts and training support to dealerships throughout the UK and Ireland, in addition to receiving visitors from around the world,” said Mr Tyrrell.
The redevelopment of the site will take place in phases, the first of which is to relocate the CLAAS Academy to a separate building on-site, which has already started.
The next phase, planned to start in mid-2017, will see the construction of new office space and the MANNS dealership. The next phases will provide further offices, showroom and a parts storage and distribution centre, with completion planned for 2020.
Designed by architects Barber.Casanovas.Ruffles of Cambridge, the new state of the art building will use solar passive design techniques, renewable energy and rain water harvesting to support the daily operations. The building has a large north facing glazed facade to offer prominence to the A14 while providing views from inside the building to the surrounding countryside.
A central feature of the design is a new Technoparc machinery showroom, which will serve as a display area for MANNS, and a striking entrance and welcome area for visitors to CLAAS UK.
“The design gives us a building that is fit for the 21st century,” says Mr Tyrrell. “It will improve the customer experience for MANNS and for visitors to CLAAS UK, plus it will also enable us to provide a superb working environment for our employees. It will also incorporate a modern parts logistics warehouse, a more efficient workshop environment and allow us to make far better overall use of the site that will have a health and safety benefit.”
The redevelopment of the site is at an advanced pre-application planning, and has received support in principle, subject to the submission of a detailed application.
The planning application will be made in the New Year. Anyone wishing to see the drawings and plans is welcome to visit CLAAS UK, where these will be available for inspection during office hours from January 9 to 20. Comment forms will also be available at the main CLAAS reception to enable members of the public to provide any feedback.