One of Bradford’s biggest employers has started to move staff into a new flagship headquarters building in the city centre.

Provident Financial is transferring more than 700 head office staff into the new Southgate building on Thornton Road from its existing 1960s base at the Colonnade office block on Sunbridge Road.

The company, which employs a total of 3,000 people around the UK, worked closely with Bradford Council to find a site which would enable it to retain its head office in Bradford where it has been based since 1880..

The 120,000 sq ft of offices in the £45m development is one of the biggest commercial property deals completed in the north of England over the past two years.

Peter Crook, Provident chief executive, said: “Having been based in Bradford since 1880 we are delighted to become the major tenants in one of the city’s flagship office developments.

“Our new building reflects our stature as a company and our ambitions to continue growing and developing as a business.

“The efforts of Bradford Council in assisting us in finding the right place for our headquarters proved vital and we look forward to a long and prosperous future based within Southgate.”

Coun David Green, Bradford Council’s executive member for regeneration and economy, said: “Provident Financial’s move into Southgate is a landmark moment for the city centre and a milestone in the growth of a central business district. There was a danger that Provident could have looked outside the district for a new headquarters had we not been able to assist them in finding such a good location.

“Our ability to support major companies like Provident shows the strengths and opportunities available in Bradford and these will only be further enhanced when City Park opens next summer.”

Provident’s arrival means the new development is fully occupied following the opening of the 200 bedroom Jury’s Inn hotel in July, which created 70 new jobs.

Stephen Davey, developments surveyor at developers McAleer & Rushe, said: “Having worked closely with Provident Financial, Jurys Inn, Bradford Council and other local stakeholders, it is a testament to their efforts as much as ours that this landmark building for Bradford has been delivered in these challenging economic times.”

Alex Munro, head of commercial agency development at property agents Knight Frank, said: “The completion of both the Jury’s Hotel and the new headquarters for Provident Financial is an excellent result for both occupiers, the city itself and the developers McAleer and Rushe.

“To achieve this in such a difficult financial climate highlights the belief and tenacity of all of the participants and is something for which they can be justifiably proud.”