500 Willis staff moving to landmark US building to cut costs

Willis has announced that it will become a new tenant of Sears Tower, and under an agreement with the building’s owners, the Chicago icon and tallest building in the Western Hemisphere will be renamed Willis Tower.

Willis plans to consolidate five area offices and move nearly 500 associates into Willis Tower, initially occupying more than 140,000 square feet on multiple floors. Willis said its move to the new space, at $14.50 per square foot, will result in significant real estate cost savings, and that there is no additional cost to the company associated with renaming the building.

“Having our name associated with Chicago’s most iconic structure underscores our commitment to this great city, and recognizes Chicago’s importance as a major financial hub and international business center,” said Joe Plumeri, chairman and chief executive, Willis.

“We are delighted to be making this bold move and firmly establishing our leading presence in one of the nation’s biggest insurance markets, and it will be wonderful for all our Associates to work under one roof.”

The building, first opened in 1973, is recognized worldwide as a center for business, and an architectural signature of Chicago’s skyline. “We are proud to add the Willis name to the tower, and welcome the company and its 500 Associates to this premier Chicago address,” said John Huston, executive vice president of American Landmark Properties, part of the real estate investment group that owns the building. “This key new tenant underscores the importance of the building as a destination for successful businesses.”

“We are thrilled that Willis Group will be consolidating their Midwest operations in Chicago, demonstrating their commitment to this city by retaining almost 500 jobs here in addition to planning for future job growth. Their decision speaks to the quality of Chicago’s workforce, and our vibrant and supportive business community. We welcome this strong global corporation and look forward to working with Willis in the years to come,” said Rita Athas, executive director of World Business Chicago.

The move is expected to be completed by late summer. The company’s North American business is now known as Willis HRH following Willis’ October 2008 acquisition of insurance intermediary Hilb Rogal & Hobbs (HRH). Chicago is the headquarters of Willis HRH’s Midwest Region.

“This move will be a huge benefit to our Associates,” said Don Bailey, chairman and chief executive, Willis HRH. “Working even more collaboratively and closely together as a ‘One Flag’ team, we will be able to provide even better service and offer more innovative solutions to our clients. As we seek new growth opportunities, we’ll also benefit from having greater brand recognition in this market. Willis Tower will make us a household name among our clients, prospective clients and in the larger business community.”

Willis Tower will also be home to Willis Commercial and Willis’ Innotech business.