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Leaders expect a trend spark

Leaders expect a trend spark
Maersk is moving its UK shipping line headquarters from London to Liverpool.

Maersk is moving its UK shipping line headquarters from London to Liverpool.

Maersk, one of the world"s biggest companies, is moving its UK shipping line headquarters from London to Liverpool. Regional leaders hope the move will spark a trend among businesses to invest in Britain"s lower-cost provincial cities. Maersk Line UK and Ireland ? a shipping subsidiary of the Danish AP Moller-Maersk Group, which employs more than 117,000 people worldwide ? said cheaper office space and the quality of the local workforce helped influence its decision.

Ben Platt, a senior executive with the group, said the move would also bring the company closer to its customers and staff in operational offices, including one in Liverpool. ?We want to reduce the communications gap between head office and the others and build a tighter team,? he said. ?We have been in Liverpool for a few years and had a great experience. The region is developing fast and it"s an exciting time to be there.?

It is understood that 70 posts will be moved, while other AP Moller-Maersk Group entities will keep their headquarters in London.

The Mersey Partnership, the inward investment agency, said it believed the move by such a blue-chip company would convince others to follow suit.

?In the prevailing economic conditions, operating costs are critical to every firm, and as Maersk has seen there is a distinct business advantage to be gained by locating in Liverpool,? said Lorraine Rogers, chief executive. She said other potential investors were in advanced talks about moving staff to the city. That would be reward indeed for Merseyside"s turnround in the past 10 years ? £4bn ($5.7bn) has been invested in a new commercial district, shopping centre and arts facilities.

However, investment agencies have often found it hard to convince senior executives to take the risk of moving to provincial cities because it is considered a ?one-way street?.

Companies fear that it would be hard to return to London, while their staff assume there would be a lack of well-paid jobs if they want to change companies.

That may alter as London suffers in the recession and other cities build their own clusters of industries. Manchester has a huge BBC investment in Salford, while Liverpool still has busy docks and a historic roll call of shipping names.

Mr Platt said there was a ?romantic? element to being in such a historic port, with its waterfront marked by the ?Three Graces?. ?The office is top quality and has fantastic views,? he said.


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