Ipswich Audi’s new £8m home
One of the region’s leading car and commercial vehicle businesses is weeks away from the opening its largest ever property investment.
The completion of the Marriott Motor Group’s new £8million Audi showroom in Ipswich will represent a major milestone for the business, and continues the development of Futura Park retail and business park, which is home to Waitrose and John Lewis, to the east side of the town.
Construction work started on the four-acre site in February this year and when it opens its doors on December 5, the futuristic building will house a brand new 16-car showroom and service centre. Ipswich Audi will then move from its current operation in Bath Street.
Stepping inside visitors are immediately struck by the curved feature wall with lights running along it to resemble a road. The showroom space is impressive and the intention is that there will be no desks in this area allowing the cars to be presented without interruption.
The significance of the venture is clear to Paul Barnard, managing director of the Marriott Motor Group, which has a heritage of over 100 years in the motor trade and today is a £200m business managing franchises across the region for brands such as Volkswagen, Skoda and Renault.
“This is by far the biggest property investment since the company was established,” he said.
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“It’s part of the requirements of the brand that the dealerships update every ten years or so to stay fresh and appealing. We wanted to be near retail – and the more passing traffic we have the more people will see the building. We very much wanted the Audi brand to be visible in the town in what is now the most prominent retail park in Ipswich.”
Barnard continued: “We had to redevelop because our current site is too small. So we decided to build on a new site in a more prominent location and make a bit of statement.”
Two well-known Ipswich-based businesses, building design consultancy, David Clarke & Associates and Barnes Construction, worked on scheme.
“We needed to have confidence that our biggest ever property development would be delivered on time and on budget and carried out to a finished standard that we expect of the Audi brand,” said Barnard. “Barnes weren’t the cheapest – but we knew that Mark (Hart) and the team could deliver what we have here today.”
Mark Hart is construction director at Barnes Construction, which has been building showrooms for the Barnard family and Marriott Motor Group for almost forty years.
“Both companies are family businesses – with an ethos and culture that is essential to that business’s development,” said Hart “We share some common themes, which means on a construction project of this nature you have the right people and the right approach. What we wanted to produce was a building that is consistent with the Audi brand, which is at the top end of the automotive industry. It about quality and high specification.”
When open the Audi showroom will be home to around 70 staff with a number of new jobs expected to be created.
Barnard also hopes the new building can be rented out for events such as drinks receptions, product launches and business meetings
“We’d like the space to be business friendly and recognised as a place where the doors are open,” he added.