A PENSIONS group is hoping to almost double its workforce by 2023.

The XPS Pensions Group, which is moving into new offices in Middlesbrough's Centre Square next month, says it wants to employ 160 people in the next two years.

The company, based at Vancouver House, currently has 78 members of staff but it will expand to 110 when it moves to the premises in the new development. 

It has been recruiting since last autumn and is still advertising for eight posts. 

XPS operations manager Graeme Hall said: "We have previously been in a very outdated, old property. There were problems with that because of all the advances in electronic communications and - in particular - how we look after our staff."

He added: "Moving here means that we've got everything we could possibly need: the latest equipment, the best connectivity and the highest standard of working environments for our staff."

XPS Pensions Group is the largest pure pensions consultancy in the UK, specialising in actuarial, covenant, investment consulting and administration.

It manages more than 1500 pension schemes, worth many billions of pounds, on behalf of nearly a million members.

The XPS team in Centre Square will be mainly looking after public sector clients, including most of the police forces in England and Wales.

Management of the Ministry of Justice's pension scheme has also been transferred to Centre Square, where the company says it now has the capacity to pursue more new work.

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: "This is absolutely fantastic. It doesn't just cement XPS in the centre of Middlesbrough, it allows them to grow and that's then a magnet for other people to come in.

"The activity and interest in investing in Middlesbrough is growing and growing and growing."

The Centre Square project was launched more than five years ago by Middlesbrough Council and the developer Ashall Projects, with the aim of creating Grade A office space in the centre of town. 

 As well as XPS and Firstsource at least two other companies are moving into Centre Square this year.

Mark Ashall, director of Ashall Projects, said: "You wouldn't proceed with a scheme like this unless you were confident that it was going to achieve its objectives. But it's always satisfying to see it become reality and be able to welcome the companies who are arriving in Centre Square."

Ashall Projects has submitted further plans to Middlesbrough Council which could see four more buildings with the capacity to accommodate around 2,000 office staff.

One of the buildings would be seven-storeys high and have a floor space of more than 100,000 sq ft.

Part of the proposal has already been given the go-ahead.  Ashall Projects has been given planning permission for a four-storey office development - Six Centre Square - on vacant land in Melrose Street.

The council says talks are "well advanced" to bring a major international company there, creating hundreds of jobs. 

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