IM Group is a family-owned international group of companies operating in various different markets, including the automotive and property sectors. Founded in the Midlands in the mid 1970s, the group has grown and diversified into an international business employing around 500 people.
At the heart of the group, International Motors imports and distributes brands including Subaru, Citroen and Isuzu in the UK and Europe. It also provides car finance, logistics, spare parts and accessories.
Its real estate arm, IM Properties, has developed commercial schemes for many blue-chip customers across the globe, totally over six million square feet. By 2020, its portfolio was valued at more than £1 billion.
A new home, based on established values
When it came to finding a new home, the IM Group needed to create something that strongly reflected its distinctive culture and range of business activities. This apparent setback actually became a great opportunity.
The Group already owned the Fore Business Park, 12 miles south of it’s original home on the HS2 route. The decision was made to create a new headquarters campus on this site: one that would be even more relevant to their diverse businesses, with a strong eye on the future.
UK project director at IM Properties, Jason Jasper, explains the challenge: “As a developer, we knew that quality, sustainability, wellbeing and obviously productivity were high on the agenda. This [was] a once in a lifetime opportunity to design a new headquarters building that ultimately is going to be the best for the company and for our staff.”
BAM was originally appointed to deliver the shell and core of the new buildings, but the customer was impressed by the quality of the work being delivered and awarded a further £12 million fit-out contract.
An impressive structure
The most striking feature of the main three-storey building at the heart of the campus is the rich russet-coloured Corten steel arch that envelopes the whole space. The massive steel frame sits on 350 12 metre deep CFA piles.
Large expanses of curtain walling ensure a very light environment, while the internal cast black concrete walls – which deliberately lean at slight angles – are subtly textured with the grain finish left when the wooden shuttering was removed. Linear LED lighting accentuates the texture and flow of the walls.
Inside the full-height glazed atrium there is a large reception area, with a dramatic exhibition space to showcase the cars imported by the business.
As well as the Group headquarters, BAM deliver four other buildings on site. A two-storey headquarters for the Group’s charity, Christian Vision, the Subaru Academy, where apprentices learn to service the brand, the ‘floating’ Gatehouse which sits over a pool and a services compound.
The development is surrounded by a country park, so the Academy had to be built as a subterranean structure, as it sits on green-belt land. The restricted palette of natural materials helps the buildings to blend into the environment.
The extensive landscaping on the campus also includes a lake with a bridge, as well as three specially commissioned Corten steel sculptures.
Sustainable from the start
The Intelligent Building Management System (BMS) that monitors energy performance and enables the business to adjust the environment to suit its evolving needs. There is a fully controllable LED lighting system and extensive solar photovoltaic arrays on the roofs of the two largest buildings on site.
The building infrastructure is future-proofed to accommodate new information and audio-visual technologies. There is built-in capacity for electric vehicle charging points to be extended to every space in the car park.
Biodiversity was taken into account in the specification for the development. Outside, beehives and allotments are tucked into corners of the site, supported by natural planting schemes.
An investment in people
IM Group Managing director Andrew Edmiston said: “We've invested significantly in the new campus, not only make it work hard for its money in terms of sustainability and efficiency but to give us an environment which will help attract and retain talent.”
Reflecting the founding family’s Christian beliefs, the group is driven by a strong ethos of ‘integrity, relationships and being inventive and innovative’. The new campus embodies this concern for people and their wellbeing.
The buildings are laid out to encourage flexible and collaborative working, with spaces indoors and outside for meetings, individual activities and relaxation. There’s an on-site gym, putting green and restaurant, as well as an area where people can play pool or watch major sporting events together.
Specially commissioned artworks – that reflect the company, its work, its values and its people – provide focal points at key areas across the campus.