STERIS Instrument Management Services (IMS) is opening its largest UK facility at Aviva Investors’ Barwell Business Park under one of the biggest occupancy agreements in South West London this year.

STERIS is a global innovator of Medical Devices and Infection Control solutions. STERIS IMS has more than 20 sites across the UK alone, from Glasgow to Salisbury and most of the major towns and cities in between, including several in London.

The company supports NHS Trusts across the country with Medical Device Decontamination services, and the manufacture and repair of Medical Devices.

As hospitals came under pressure from COVID-19, STERIS IMS supported its NHS customers with donations of PPE, including surgical gowns and sterilization packaging materials that some customers used to make protective face masks.

The new centre at units 1 to 4 Barwell Business Park in Chessington – 41,000 sq ft in area ¬- will be dedicated to the decontamination and sterilization of NHS Medical Devices, including surgical instruments and endoscopes. It is expected to be fully operational by February 2021 with UK company, Merit Health Ltd, leading the major fit-out. STERIS IMS will process 15 million medical instruments a year at Barwell, a significant increase on the 9 million per annum at its current largest facility in Sheffield.

Sterilization services for Kingston Hospital – a newly-awarded contract – will be based at Barwell, and an existing customer at Epsom Hospital will be relocated there. The new site will also provide opportunities for flexibility and expansion.

STERIS IMS Project Manager, Mark Brown, said: “The move to Barwell Business Park is a significant development for us and a significant commitment. There is a huge element of planning underway for the facility. We will relocate the existing service from Epsom Hospital as the hospital site undergoes redevelopment and accommodate the new business from Kingston Hospital – both are 15-year, long-term contracts.

“We will also be able to create additional capacity in the London region alongside our already numerous sites which include the Royal London, Homerton, Northwick Park in Harrow and the Princess Royal in Orpington.

“STERIS IMS serves many customers from its existing facilities in London, and the wider region. We are very keen to create additional capacity to provide contingency support to the NHS and our own business as well as develop new business opportunities. This will be our biggest facility in the UK.”

STERIS IMS will take its employees to Barwell and seek to hire more as they attract new business, with the expectation that up to 170 employees will be based at the site, from technicians to back-office roles.

“It is very important that we retain our existing staff,” Mark said. “They are highly trained and skilled and they have a huge range of expertise, so retaining them is key. We invest a lot in training, it can take 12-18 months to fully train a technician and staff are a key resource. We invest a lot in our people.”

“There is a huge emphasis on the value we give our people,” added Marketing Director Kat Holt. “CSR is really important. We offer an accredited healthcare scheme, mental health initiatives, free access to GPs for employees and their families, free fruit, training and education initiatives. We invest a huge amount into apprenticeships too.”

STERIS delivers healthcare science, customer service, team leader and management apprenticeships to its employees.

With a gym and café on-site, Barwell Business Park provided local facilities to attract and retain staff but its geographical position was crucial.

Mark said: “It is a key location for customers and staff, as well as for the huge opportunities in central London and the wider London region. Our customers require a short reprocessing turnaround time for their Medical Devices and it’s much easier to achieve this if you are close to your customers and, critically, it is easier to retain and transfer staff to the new facility. Barwell is close to major airports and we regularly have visitors from the US, including the senior management team, and Barwell is a good location to showcase STERIS equipment, products and services for our national and international customers. It is an aspirational business park where the buildings are of a good standard with nice open areas around them.”

Aviva Investors is a longstanding stakeholder and investor in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. They own the Bentall Centre and Davis Road Industrial Estate as well as Barwell Business Park. The Steris IMS letting, secured through Altus Group and acquiring agent CBRE Industrial, is the largest at Barwell in the last decade.

Colin Lawrence-Waterhouse, Asset Manager, Real Estate, at Aviva Investors, who runs Barwell Business Park, said:

“Whilst Steris IMS’s new facility is great news for Barwell, its impact on the health service both within the borough and across the region will no doubt be much more significant.

Barwell offers a different type of industrial product in the South West London market, which attracts high quality occupiers who want a business park environment rather than a traditional industrial estate. The letting to Steris IMS is testament to the park, its location and the important role it plays as a key employment area within the borough. It highlights the strength of demand in the area for high quality industrial stock and supports our investment strategy of focusing on prime real estate assets in core locations.”

Steris IMS is one of five businesses to take up an occupancy at Barwell Business Park this year with others including Opcare, an innovator in prosthetics, orthotics, posture and mobility devices along with temperature and humidity technology leaders, Stulz and BMW repair specialist, Motorrad Servicing and Repair (MSR). Wheelchair and mobility scooter specialist, Wheelfreedom, has also taken up a lease at Barwell in recent weeks. Kingston borough councillors welcomed the influx of new businesses to the area’s leading employment space.

In a joint statement, Councillors Patricia Bamford, Christine Stuart and Andreas Kirsch, who represent Chessington South ward, said: “With industrial space declining in Kingston and across London in recent years, we are fortunate that our borough has this remarkable employment space which can attract these outstanding businesses and their talented workforce.”

“We are delighted that Steris IMS has chosen Kingston-upon-Thames for long-term investment, both at Barwell Business Park and Kingston Hospital. Their hi-tech, scientific health expertise along with their approach to employee wellbeing will shine a spotlight on the local area. Kingston is a borough dominated by micro businesses and STERIS IMS, as a medium-sized enterprise, is a welcome diversification to our business base and boost to the local economy.”