Companies flock to Ashford
Fast road and rail links, a ‘can-do’ business mentality and a
host of new business opportunities are persuading a growing number
of companies to relocate to Ashford, the fastest growing town
between London and the Continent.
Firms in the creative and IT sectors have led the rush to set up
operations in Ashford – these include Sagittarius Marketing, The
Art of Design and New World Telecom.
Sagittarius, an award-winning digital design and marketing
consultancy, had spent 30 years in Folkestone before moving to
Ashford this autumn, settling into a town centre office just
minutes from Ashford International Station and its 37 minute
high-speed rail service to London.
“Ashford is a dynamic location with a real ‘can-do’ business
mentality. What’s more it has incredible road and rail
connectivity, including the new 140mph rail service to London which
is enabling us to service clients in the capital with ease,” said
chief executive officer Paul Stephen.
The Art of Design is a creative design consultancy formed in
Ashford in 1994, specialising in graphic design for print, digital
media and exhibition. Clients include Givaudan, Pfizer, BBC,
Network Rail, and the Department of Health.
As business development manager Samantha Boxall explained, the
firm moved to larger premises in Maidstone in 2000 but has
‘returned to our roots’ in Ashford. “Our long term plan was always
to return to Ashford, an area we associate with tremendous growth
and business potential and now we look forward to taking advantage
to all that the area has to offer,” she added.
Larry Linin is managing director of New World Telecom, which has
been based in Surbiton in Surrey since 1992. With most of its
business conducted in Surrey, Kent and Sussex, the firm was looking
for a location that would offer not only immediate business
opportunities but also long-term growth potential.
“We considered a number of centres but were influenced by the
attraction of Ashford as a developing town with its international
rail link attracting businesses like ours to the area,” said Larry,
who has moved his family home to the outskirts of the town.
A host of other companies has chosen Ashford in the past year,
including Smiths Medical International Ltd which relocated its
European HQ to a 36,295 sq ft office at the Eureka Business Park.
Design and construction specialist Directline Structures needed
room to grow its business and moved to Ashford from west Kent.
Directline Structures built its own striking new HQ on the
Orbital Park. The office boasts many environmentally-friendly
features and the firm has just won an award at the London and South
East Constructing Excellence Awards, and recognition for
sustainable design and construction at the 2010 Kent Environment
Looking ahead, many more companies are eyeing up business
opportunities in Ashford, according to investment promotion agency
Locate in Kent. Its recent 2010 Perception Study showed that it has
70 firms with potential projects looking at Ashford.
Judith Armitt, managing director of Ashford’s Future, the agency
overseeing the town’s £2.5bn public and private sector growth
programme, said an increasing number of national and international
companies are aware that Ashford is best placed to support their
growing businesses in the 21st century.
“Ashford acts as a magnet for business because of, rather than
despite, continued economic uncertainties. Ashford is the only town
in the UK with a full high-speed rail service to London. It is a
thriving, expanding and self-confident place, the powerhouse
economy of Kent.”
Media release 0312/10