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Locating in Ashford
Ashford is a thriving commercial centre in Kent - a
vibrant expanding town with a diverse economy reaping the rewards
of significant new investment.
Ashford currently provides something for every business in terms
of sector placement, supply chain opportunities and a well
established community of businesses.
Top companies in Ashford
We have around 5,000 businesses employing over 46,000 people,
supported by excellent transport networks and expanding
opportunities as part of the town's growth.
Ashford has the capacity to attract a broad range of occupiers
with a diverse range of requirements; large, small, town centre,
fringe or out-of-town.
Key sector strengths:
- Transport, Warehousing & Storage –
Ashford’s transport hub is a vital asset to the area. With Eurostar
and home to Hitachi’s maintenance depot, it is poised to attract
further investment and employment.
- Financial and Business Services - significant
expertise across banking, finance and insurance representing
around 1,600 companies mainly in business services. This represents
a high concentration of relevant skills at competitive costs.
Ashford also has a strong mix of publishing, printing and
security activites. Headley Brothers has been in Ashford for over 125
years and Q Creative
is an expanding design agency. The impact of the high speed
trains will enable companies to better serve London as well as
- Construction/Engineering - a core sector that
has shown considerable expansion to support the developments of the
Channel Tunnel Rail link and creation of new homes. Leading
players are GSE Group
and Directline Structure Ltd, which are supported by a network
of companies that make up the Ashford Construction Focus Group
- Specialist Manufacturing – a signifcant sector
with a diverse range of activities. Ashford has been traditionally
strong in a number of specialist manufacturing sub-sectors
including food processing, electrical goods, and engineering. The
area has attracted production of high-value products. Home to
Givaudan (formerly Quest
International) a world leading company in the fragrance industry
and Coty UK Manufacturing, Ashford provides the mix of skills
and infrastructure to help these companies to thrive.
- Retail – investment in the town centre’s
retail environment has consolidated this core sector, which has
been reinforced by the £65 million extension to County Square.
Designer Outlet alone attracts over 3 million visitors per
- Wholesale – Ashford has a competitive
advantage with its improved motorway accessibility and high-speed
rail links. Brakes has
been in Ashford for around 50 years distributing more than 15,000
products to around 150,000 customer outlets.
Coty Rimmel UK Ltd, Brakes, Givaudan (formerly Quest International UK Ltd),
Eurostar and Hitachi.
Number of companies
The number of businesses in the Ashford borough grew by 29%
between 1998 and 2005, almost double the rate for the South East as
a whole (16%).
Ashford attracted 35 ‘Foreign Direct Investment’ (FDI) companies
between 1997 and 2006.
Nearly a fifth (17%) of the small and medium sized businesses
(SMEs) in the borough felt that their local area had become a
better place to do business over the last 12 months, compared with
the south east average of 9%.
The number of businesses almost doubled between 1998 and 2005 -
a growth rate of 29% in comparison to the whole of the South East
Key sectors and trends
The strengths of the current Ashford business
profile are in the following broad areas: specialist manufacturing,
construction, retail, transport and distribution and business
Ashford’s (road) transport links
provide a competitive advantage in the wholesale and
distribution sector, with relative strengths in employment in
wholesale (particularly food wholesale), storage and packaging.
Banking, finance and insurance sector
(including business services) is the largest broad sector in terms
of business establishments.
Business services is a growing sector locally,
regionally and nationally and it is an important employment sector
Opportunities for the future will come from
the relocation of activities from higher cost locations in London
and the south east.
Consumer access to London / Europe