SIMON Collins, the Chelsea-supporting UK chairman of KPMG, met a symbol of true sporting success when he visited Leeds to celebrate the opening of his group’s new Yorkshire office.
Kevin Sinfield, who led Leeds Rhinos to seven Super League titles and captained his country, was among the special guests at the event, along with Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, the Olympic medal-winning Yorkshire triathletes.
The accountancy firm also invited pupils from the Leeds West Academy and All Saints School, two institutions it supports through its corporate social responsibility activities.
Speaking at the launch party, northern chairman Chris Hearld said: “This building is not only about our work as a professional services firm but it was always important to us it recognised our role in the community in this part of the world.”
Muse Developments built the 61,000 sq ft building exclusively for KPMG, which employs around 800 people in the city. Mr Hearld’s predecessor Iain Moffatt did the deal on the site.
Mr Hearld said: “We were very keen to reflect the heritage of the site in the building. The wall that runs all the way up the atrium features images of Leeds throughout the years and different themes from around Yorkshire.
“We have recognised what this site used to be. Many of you know it from when it was the Queens Hall. It was Leeds’ only concert venue from the Sixties through to the Eighties.
“There’s a jukebox which is a nod to the musical heritage of the site, which played host to some of the legends of music, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones and, of course, Kajagoogoo.”
The jukebox was supplied by Leeds firm Sound Leisure and has been stocked by 80 CDs from the collections of partners and directors, including Bruce Springsteen, Duran Duran, Rod Stewart, Paloma Faith, Elvis Costello and The Police.
Mr Hearld, who is from York, told the audience of business leaders: “I want to say how proud I am to be senior partner at the time we move into an office like this. For me this building embodies all the things that make KPMG a great firm to work with and work for. We recognise our heritage, we are proud of that heritage and we are proud part of the Leeds and Yorkshire community.
“But we are forward looking. For those who do visit, you will see an unbelievably flexible working environment. There are no allocated desks in the building. People go wherever it works for them on any particular day. There is loads of breakout and collaboration space.”
Mr Collins, a former investment banker, was appointed UK chairman and senior partner of KPMG in 2012.
He said: “It is the time of year when we are looking for inspiration from bright lights in the sky. When I came down from the station, I realised we have got one here in Leeds. It is an extraordinary building to walk up to.”
Mr Collins said the multi-million pound investment was a commitment to the North of England and follows the opening of the firm’s “very posh” new office in Manchester.
He added: “We are very proudly supporting the Northern Powerhouse. It is actually not a North thing, for me it is a national thing. The whole weight of the firm is going behind the Northern Powerhouse - it is just the right thing to do for the UK.”
Rival PwC has signed a deal to move into Central Square, a £100m development.