Bede House Durham commercial property purchase

Retail trade association acquires its Durham offices

North-East property investment company Durham Group is pleased to announce the sale of Bede House to the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) in an off-market transaction.

Previously known as the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN), the trade association relocated from London to office space in Bede House in 2020 after 100 years of being based predominantly in the capital.

Durham Group worked closely with the Fed with the relocation, securing it as a tenant in the 26,000 sq. ft. two storey building which had just undergone significant refurbishment.

By relocating to the north-east, the trade association’s contact centre operation and administration departments which had previously been based in nearby Gilesgate were consolidated into the new premises.

Commenting on the sale, Durham Group chairman Lord Wrigglesworth said: “The investment in Bede House and this disposal are exactly the type of projects we take great pleasure in delivering.  Following our acquisition, we completed a significant investment in the building, improving its energy efficiency and layout to suit the modern-day office. Working closely with Chris Pearson at Naylors Gavin Black, we showcased to the Fed the benefits of this building and Durham City as a place for the organisation to be based.”

Durham Group Chief Executive Gurpreet Singh Jagpal added: “We received an off-market approach from the Fed to purchase Bede House and are pleased that the association continues to invest heavily in the city following its relocation. The Fed’s wish to acquire the building is evidence of the success of its move and a vote of confidence for our region. We continue to invest in a number of ongoing projects that we have in the county.”

Founded in 1919 and supporting over 15,000 independent retail stores across the UK and Ireland, the Fed has recently recruited a number of key positions from the region, including new Chief Operating Officer Graham Stafford.  Now, nearly 60 staff operate out of the Durham head office.

Commenting on the acquisition, Mr Stafford said: “We are delighted to have completed the purchase of Bede House and this move reflects the Fed’s significant investment in the region since relocating nearly three years ago.

“The Fed has a long history of supporting independent retailers and they need our help and support more than ever.”

The Fed’s National President Jason Birks, who runs a shop in Peterlee, County Durham, said: “It was a historic occasion when the Fed moved our head office out of London and to Durham. This significant step was taken following a review of our business, and it reflected our commitment to provide high-quality support and services to independent retailers.

“Buying Bede House secures our future in Durham and is a proud new chapter in our 103-year history.  It will allow us to push ahead with our strategic plans to further enhance the Fed to help make members money, save them money, and find easier ways to do business.”

Durham Group Estates was represented by DWF Law and the Fed was advised by Carter Towler (Durham Office) and EMG Solicitors.

Bede House is fully occupied with Azets and Bruker UK as tenants.