Top bosses at a £1.7bn turnover company say they are thrilled and geared for growth as they opened their new headquarters in Ipswich today.

Facilities firm OCS has invested around £1m in its new UK and Ireland headquarters at The Havens in Ransomes Europark after deciding to move out of its Bury St Edmunds premises.

Ipswich was chosen because it was seen as offering more in terms of facilities for staff, good transport links, proximity to the A14 and a bigger recruitment base.

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The firm's global chief executive Rob Legge and its UK and Northern Ireland chief executive Daniel Dickson live in or near the town and said they wanted to keep the UK base in Suffolk.

Mayor of Ipswich Lynne Mortimer said she was "thrilled" to welcome the company to the town. 

"I read that OCS hopes to double in size in over the next five years - and it is already pretty big. 

"I also hear that as well as providing many and varied services to the market, OCS also support the local communities in which it operates," she said.

She welcomes the jobs and wealth it would generate for the town as it expands and hoped it would persuade more companies to make the town their home.

"This is a town that takes pride in its achievements and we can all be proud that OCS has decided to bring its headquarters to Ipswich," she added.

New Century House will become a test-bed for robotics and other advances as its 260-strong workforce looks to embrace new technology such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) across the company.

Already, automation is being introduced at some of the firm's bigger cleaning sites such as airports and hospitals and is an area which is expanding.

"There are lots of exciting things happening in our industry," said Daniel. "It's not going to take over, - it's just going to give us that edge.

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"The idea of this office is to trial a lot of that technology here so it can be a real technological showcase. Some will work and some won't," he said.

"I want it to be the kind of place we can bring customers in and show them the best of what we have got really."

Currently, the company is investing £40m in AI, robotics and IT systems across the group.

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The firm will host employees, customers and suppliers at the site and plans to use local hotels to house them. Globally, the group - which has an Asian arm - has a turnover of £2.2bn and is continuing to expand.

Rob said by chance the new building was previously occupied by accountants BDO - then operating as PKF - and was one of his first cleaning contracts 20-plus years ago.

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By 2006, he started to take on Tesco cleaning contracts and a year later, TK Maxx and Primark.

OCS - formerly Servest then Atalian Servest - has grown considerably over the intervening years to become a global facilities management powerhouse.

It has invested heavily in modernising its new Ipswich home ready for its new workforce of up to 300 - as it positions itself to attract the best staff, he added.

"I think there's a lot more in the area for colleagues to do during their lunch time," he said. "I think Ipswich is a more vibrant place for youngsters - there's a lot more going on here."

Tom Copsey, who heads up recruitment at the firm, said they were keen to draw good candidates from the area by providing an "excellent" working environment.

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They also wanted to partner up with local organisations "to ensure we can offer the best benefits" as well as benefiting the local economy, he said.

"We have got 50,000 employees. Many of these will attend the head office on a regular basis. In addition to that we'll have suppliers and customers who will also visit the office."

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He added: "We'll have a real focus on hiring entirely local talent and supporting their career development in OCS. We are looking to develop links with local schools, colleges and universities and that will be an important part of our strategy.

"We are looking forward to attending careers events and hosting our own events at our office.

"OCS has ambitious growth plans and we'll need to continually recruit talent across our office-based departments."

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At the end of April,  the firm's catering division - Angel Hill - will be launching a staff bistro in the building providing subsidised lunches for workers.

The site is also hosting a quiz night this week - with questions devised by Daniel - and a fish and chip van will be paying a visit.

"Ultimately it's a cost and an investment in our people and encourages people back to the office," explained Daniel.

He was "very excited" and "over the moon" at the move.

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"I'm very proud of what we have achieved here," he added. "We got the keys at Christmas so it has been a building site for three and a half months but it's all come together and it's an amazing space for colleagues to come to."

As a former Copleston High and Northgate sixth form pupil and proud Ipswich Town Football Club fan he was "very proud" to be in Ipswich, he added.

"This feels like a really good place for a head office. I feel that Bury served us well for a number of years but Ipswich is going to be an ideal location for our future."

There was a "good buzz" in the office, he added. And while recruitment has been a challenge over the last couple of years, he was optimistic things are improving.

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