ONE of the biggest professional services firms in the world has signalled its commitment to Hampshire by signing a three-year lease on a new office in Southampton city centre.

EY says the move will increase its floor capacity in the city by more than 20 per cent and follows 12 months of significant growth, with 40 new staff hired this year.

The firm, also known as Ernst & Young, expects to relocate to its new offices at Grosvenor House, in Grosvenor Square, early next year, after two floors of the 30,000sqft building are refurbished.

It says its new base will offer open plan office space, amenity areas and client meeting space.

EY, currently based at Wessex House in Threefield Lane, said recent recruitment had brought together a team with international experience and knowledge of the region’s business landscape.

It intends to continue to build its audit business and expand its tax practice, working with clients across the south coast corridor. Its 700-strong business in the region includes EY offices in Reading and covers Thames Valley and the south.

Dave Hales, managing partner at EY’s Southampton office, said: “We’re incredibly excited to have signed a lease on new office space in the city. We’ve been at our current location for nearly 30 years but needed to find somewhere to accommodate our expanding business.

“Grosvenor House is a prestigious building, ideally located near the city centre, close to amenities and transport links and with ample room to expand in the future.

“Our new office will not only be a place where existing and new clients can be welcomed, but it will create an engaging working environment for our people. We’re really looking forward to moving in and taking the next steps in our growth.

“Southampton and the south coast have a thriving economy, despite the challenges of an uncertain economic landscape. This move shows we are fully committed to Southampton and to providing the best possible service to our clients and to exploring opportunities across the region.”

Agent JLL advised on the deal which led to the move.

JLL director Nella Pang said: “We are pleased to have advised EY on their office relocation in Southampton. We are witnessing a number of corporate companies take flexible space to cater for 21st century work life and better position themselves in a fast paced business environment. JLL predict up to 30 per cent of corporate portfolios could be in co-working or flex space by 2030.

BE.Spoke agreed the head lease and will be creating the workspace before EY occupies its new offices.

Jonathan Weinbrenn, managing director of BE.Spoke, said: “We’re delighted to be working with EY, supporting their business needs and extending their employee proposition. We look forward to delivering a custom-built solution reflecting EY’s brand and corporate identity, and providing ongoing customer support and facilities management.”