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Pearson's London Strand HQ may be next to go in cost cutting drive

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Pearson's London Strand HQ may be next to go in cost cutting drive
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LONDON (Reuters) – Pearson <PSON.L>, the world’s biggest education company, could move out of its London Strand headquarters as part of its latest drive to cut costs after U.S. students stopped buying so many textbooks.

The British company, which used to own the Financial Times newspaper, has been forced to retrench after college students in the United States started renting and downloading digital books, rather than paying for expensive textbooks.

A move from its home of 18 years would mark a significant step for Pearson’s executives who are based on the top floors of an Art Deco building on the Strand, next to the Savoy Hotel and close to the Thames. The lease runs until 2040.

“We are committed to a London HQ,” said Ben Almond, Pearson’s global head of property. “By becoming simpler and more efficient, we’re better able to invest, to innovate, to grow.”

The news follows moves by fellow corporate groups BT <BT.L> and Rolls-Royce <RR.L> to look for a new home after they both said they would move from their central London locations.

As part of its review, Pearson is also considering options for its One Southwark Bridge building, on the other side of the Thames and home to the Financial Times.

Pearson said it could either sublease its floors at its 80 Strand address and find an alternative London location, transfer its lease to an investor in a deal that includes the FT building or market One Southwark Bridge for sale or redevelopment.

If it fails to deliver any of those options it will stay in 80 Strand and review its portfolio again at a later date.

Pearson said it will have taken nearly 1 billion pounds of costs out of the company by 2020 since it started restructuring in 2013. It has also cut thousands of jobs.

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Keith Weir)

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