Multidisciplinary consultant WS Atkins is bringing its entire UK "middle and back office" staff to a base near Worcester.
Atkins said up to 350 staff would be based there when all the group's accounting, IT, human resources, payroll, marketing and central support services staff have moved into the base. The move has come after an efficiency review of the firm's middle and back office operations.

The facility, currently under construction, is due to open in January 2002. The group's accounting staff will move in first and the others will follow throughout the year.

Atkins chief executive Robin Southwell said the arrangement would give Atkins a significant competitive advantage. He said: "It will be a centre of excellence, leading the field in the supply of support services."

A group spokesperson said it was too early to give a final cost for the scheme and added that it was part of Atkins' wider IT strategy.

The group announced earlier this month that it was spending up to £55m this year on IT maintenance, upgrades and new programs.

It will be a centre of excellence

Robin Southwell, WS Atkins

Atkins admitted that some staff may not want to move to the base, and that jobs may be taken away by new technology.

The group hopes that clients will take advantage of its experience and expertise in improving the efficiency of middle and back office operations.