Google exhibits confidence in the UK, buys $1billion office building in central London

By Dele Ojo

Tech giant Google has spent $1 billion to buy a central London building where it is currently a tenant, showing its confidence in the future of the office as a place to work, the company said in a recent report.

Google, which employs 6,400 people in Britain, plans a multi-million pound refurbishment of its offices within the Central Saint Giles development it is buying, close to Covent Garden in central London.

“We have been privileged to operate in the UK for nearly 20 years, and our purchase of the Central Saint Giles development reflects our continued commitment to the country’s growth and success,” said Ruth Porat, CFO of Google’s parent company Alphabet.

The company plans to refit the building so it is adapted for in-person teamwork and has meeting rooms for hybrid working, as well as creating more space for individuals.

According to Reuters, the new refurbishment will also feature outdoor covered working spaces to enable work in the fresh air, the company said.

Google said it would eventually have capacity for 10,000 workers at its UK sites, including one being developed in the nearby King’s Cross area of London.

“This investment in jobs from Google is a big vote of confidence in the UK as a world-leading tech hub,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.

Last month, Google said it was delaying its return-to-office plan globally amid growing concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The Central Saint Giles building had been owned by a joint venture between Legal & General Investment Management Real Assets and Mitsubishi Estate London Limited.

According to CNBC, its new U.K. headquarters, which sits on a plot behind King’s Cross train station, is still under construction. The 11-storey “groundscraper” has been designed by the prestigious Heatherwick Studios and Bjarke Ingels Group. The plans show a 25-meter swimming pool, a 200-meter rooftop running trail, and a large sports hall with views over London. It will accommodate up to 4,000 Googlers when it’s completed.

It stated that Apple is set to move 1,400 staff from multiple Apple offices around London into a new 500,000 square foot space, which will occupy six floors of the former Battersea coal-fired power station (depicted on the front cover of Pink Floyd’s “Animals” album).

The U.K. is one of the biggest outposts for U.S. tech giants. Meta, Twitter, and Amazon have also acquired shiny multi-story buildings in London in recent years to accommodate their growing armies.

The coronavirus stalled many construction projects worldwide and the lavish headquarters of Silicon Valley firms are no exception. When restrictions tightened in the U.K., many construction companies temporarily shut down building sites and laid off workers.


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