Lloyd’s of London plans to leave its headquarters in the era of working from home
Lloyd’s of London, the 300-year-old insurer that takes on complex risks ranging from ships to oil rigs and the legs of football players, is considering whether to bail out its famous London headquarters now that flexible working seems to be here to stay.
According to the Daily Mail, the world’s largest commercial insurance company has said it may leave its 36-year-old building “upside down”. “As we adapt to new structures and flexible ways of working, we continue to think carefully about future requirements for spaces and services that our market needs,” the company said in an email.
Lloyd’s was a historic anchor for the Lime Street Tower, designed by British architect Richard Rogers and opened in 1986 by Queen Elizabeth. While its lease expires in 2031, the company has a break clause in 2026 that could allow it to fly its co-op sooner.
That could be a problem for Chinese insurance group Ping An, which bought the building in 2013 for the equivalent of $352 million. Historic protections limit alterations to make it suitable for another tenant.
Named for its exterior lift shafts, stairs, water pipes and machinery, the building was designed to house Lloyd’s of London in the heart of the UK capital.
Its soaring atrium floods the worker floors with light from its barrel-vaulted roof of painted steel and glass.
Below, brokers once flocked to its ground floor underwriting room, to be greeted by underwriters who rated, priced and risked ‘boxes’ whose origins date back to when Edward Lloyd leased the table space of his café in 1686.
From a mahogany rostrum, a bell salvaged from HMS Lutine, which sank in 1799 carrying £1million in gold and silver bullion insured by Lloyd’s, rings whenever another ship goes missing.
In the age of the pandemic, many Lloyd’s offices remain empty after staff began working from home. The crisis has also spurred automation, pushing the business away from its underwriting floor.
A move by Lloyd’s out of this historically protected landmark, which has attracted dozens of insurers to set up shop in the surrounding towers, could also change the landscape of the business district.
[Daily Mail] – Dana Barthelemy