‘End of an era’: British American Tobacco quits Aylesbury

Oxford House in Aylesbury pictured in the mid-1970s when it was owned by Rothmans and one of the town's biggest employers
Oxford House in Aylesbury pictured in the mid-1970s when it was owned by Rothmans and one of the town's biggest employers

British American Tobacco is closing its operation in Aylesbury, ending the historic association the town has had with the cigarette industry.

BAT today announced that its 60 staff have been ‘invited to move’ from Oxford House in Aylesbury to its new ‘state-of-the-art’ office in Richmond-Upon-Thames in March 2014.

A ‘significant number’ of its staff already live in London, it added.

BAT’s Oxford House offices became the centre of its UK business after Rothmans International merged with the company in 2001.

Rothmans had operated the offices as its UK and international head office since November 1960.

The move will affect all Aylesbury staff from core teams such as marketing, finance, human resources, legal and corporate affairs.

Head of corporate and regulatory affairs, Ron Ridderbeekx, said: “We will be nearer to our corporate headquarters and our key clients.

“A significant number of our staff live in greater London.

“We have been privileged to be part of the Aylesbury community for the past 53 years.

“Aylesbury has been an important part of the Rothmans and BAT history.

“Generations have worked here – and many of our senior UK and international staff began their careers in Aylesbury.

“Aylesbury will always be an important part of who we are.”

Oxford House is the property of BAT Holdings Ltd, which will continue to manage the site as landlord.

BAT currently occupy 15,000 sq ft of the 126,000 sq ft site.

Aylesbury MP David Lidington said: “It is the end of an era.

“I can remember the first time I went there when it was the corporate HQ of Rothmans which was one of the biggest employers in the town.

“To some extent the BAT presence was a hangover from the days when Rothmans was an independent company.

“When BAT took over Rothmans they already had a spanking new HQ in London and they were the bigger of the two companies.

“It is always sad to see a company move out of Aylesbury.

“When I spoke to British American Tobacco they told me that almost all of the staff currently located at their Aylesbury office would be offered relocation to their new office which will be in Richmond, West London.

“British American Tobacco own their premises on Oxford Road and I was pleased to learn that they will be actively looking for new tenants.

“I am sure other business tenants will move into that building - part of it is already let out to other businesses.

“I don’t think it is the end for that building as a centre of business.”

Mr Ridderbeekx added: “We believe that by investing in a state-of-the-art working environment, our enterprising team will be inspired to continue to develop and deliver the kinds of innovative products that the UK’s adult tobacco consumers have come to expect from British American Tobacco.

“In short, this investment shows our commitment to growth in the UK and Irish markets.”