McLaren puts iconic Woking headquarters up for sale

McLaren has put its Woking headquarters up for sale in an attempt to strengthen its balance sheet against the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The property, which is one of the world’s most iconic motorsport HQs, has been in McLaren’s hands since it was built in 2004, but now the British firm has instructed property agent Colliers to begin marketing a sale-and-leaseback for AUD$357 million, according to Sky News.

The Woking HQ comprises three buildings: the original Stirling Prize-shortlisted McLaren Technology Centre, the newer McLaren Production Centre, which is used primarily for manufacturing McLaren Automotive road cars, and the McLaren Thought Leadership Centre. All three buildings are part of the proposed sale-and-leaseback.

Should a buyer be found, McLaren will lose ownership of the prestigious property. However, as per the terms of the offer, it would remain at the Woking site, leasing the property back from the buyer over a period of years.

A McLaren spokesperson told Automotive Daily’s exclusive partner Autocar that the company is yet to confirm a final price for the property but is expecting offers “in excess of £200 million” (AUD$357 million). McLaren expects the HQ to be sold by the end of this financial year.

“The potential sale and leaseback of our global headquarters and the appointment of banks to advise us on a debt restructuring and equity raise are part of the comprehensive refinancing strategy that we announced earlier this year,” a McLaren spokesperson told Autocar.

“Building on the shorter-term measures that we put in place over the summer, these initiatives will deliver a stronger balance sheet and ensure that McLaren Group has a sustainable platform for long-term growth and investment.”

The sale is McLaren’s latest bid to improve its cash flows in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has severely affected its revenues. In May, it cut 1200 jobs – more than a quarter of its workforce – across its Applied, Automotive and Racing divisions. It also sought to borrow up to £275 million (AUD$490 million) against its classic car collection and Woking HQ, securing a £150million (AUD$267 million) loan from the National Bank of Bahrain.

“This is undoubtedly a challenging time for our company and particularly our people, but we plan to emerge as an efficient, sustainable business with a clear course for returning to growth,” said McLaren Group executive chairman Paul Walsh.

“McLaren Applied has also already refocused to strategically prioritise proven, high-growth revenue streams.”

McLaren cited the cancellation of motorsport events, the suspension of manufacturing, the shortage of car sales globally and reduced demand for technology solutions, all driven by the Covid-19 crisis, as the cause of its troubles.

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