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Holden's $200 million HQ

Two views: Holden's new headquarters from Salmon Street (top) and the entry concourse (above).

Holden's global ambitions boosted by new world headquarters

Holden logo9 Apr 2003

HOLDEN'S plan to transform from local manufacturer to niche global player took another step this week with the unveiling of a $200 million redevelopment of its headquarters in Fishermens Bend.

While the facility promises to deliver a new corporate face for Holden, the key attribute in terms of its global ambitions will be the ability to group engineering and design staff together for the first time and have the extra space to hire more of them.

That means the ability to cope with Holden's expanding domestic and international model line-up and engineering responsibilities and the inevitable roll-over of the range that the company is now constantly working through.

Holden employs about 800 salaried engineering staff and engineering boss Tony Hyde confirmed at Tuesday's announcement that more staff would be sought.

"We can take on more people to do more work," he said. "At the moment we are struggling to find space to put people."Design director Mike Simcoe is a big winner, with his division gaining an extra 5000 square metres in which to style future models for local and international markets.

Asked what the implications were for gaining extra work from the GM empire thanks to the new facility, Holden chairman and managing director Peter Hanenberger said: "I would say you could see that we become a major player in the Asian area and also most probably North America as a producer and a design house."Of vital importance is Holden's deal to design a low-cost rear-wheel drive platform for North America based on the new generation VE Commodore. Mr Hanenberger indicated that the arrangement should not be finalised about mid-year.

He said the new facility would present increased Holden opportunities in North America, including the design of body styles and major modifications to the platform, such as wheelbase alterations.

"We will be able to develop our models much more thoroughly and in detail than we did before," he said. "And we will have more capacity."In total, Holden's new headquarters will provide 21,310 square metres of floor space inside three three-storey building modules linked via a major open space spine.

It will feature a 1550 square metre entry foyer and concourse and a 2500 square metre area for Holden employee forums and general functions. An adjoining six-storey car park will accommodate up to 1000 vehicles.

An elevated walkway will connect the building to the existing technical centre, which will be upgraded as a separate project.

The development will be at 191-197 Salmon St, with associated land sales to enable Holden to consolidate its Port Melbourne operations on a single site. The work will be funded by James Fielding Group, which will then lease the site back to Holden for 15 years.

James Fielding Developments Pty Limited will acquire the art deco buildings at 251 and 261 Salmon St and other facilities at 600 Lorimer St currently occupied by Holden.

The new Innovation Centre will also be housed in the revised headquarters and a Holden Museum is under consideration for the site.

* Holden's Family II engine plant will be back near full capacity by July-August as demand from Daewoo picks up. Holden expects daily production to ramp up to around 750, from today's 450-500. Production dropped to a low of 350 per day when demand from Daewoo was at its weakest.

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