10th May 2019

Town or city for your business?

Warrington town on a map

Successful football teams and brilliant bands are just two of the things the North West’s two major cities have got in common. Something else they share is the plethora of small businesses found within them. Walk through the streets of Liverpool and Manchester, and you’ll see they’re packed with independent shops and restaurants, while a host of creative, scientific and service industry providers are also doing well in both locations.

In comparison, the cities much-smaller near-neighbour Warrington (just 20 miles or 30 minutes from both), where The Base calls home, might not be as well-known, but there’s no doubt it’s definitely punching above its weight when it comes to business. For example, Swedish DIY giant IKEA opened its first UK store there back in 1987 rather than somewhere more illustrious. And others have followed suite, including Amazon, in recent years.

It also recently charted at number 10 in online business support website Informi’s Best Places to Start a Business in the UK 2018 list. Neither Manchester nor Liverpool made the top 10.

So, if you’re thinking of starting a business or looking for a new place to move your organisation to, is the big city of Liverpool or Manchester, or the smaller town of Warrington right for you?

Let’s start by looking at what else each place has got going for it. We’ve mentioned the cultural heritage of Liverpool and Manchester, which definitely help bring in tourists and young professionals, as does the cosmopolitan culture and great lifestyle city living offers.

Manchester has also seen both the BBC and ITV move their studios up North, while Liverpool is forging a reputation as one of the best places for start-ups in the country thanks to its connectivity and technology.

Both have great infrastructure too, with trams, buses and trains all on-hand to help you and your customers get around easily. London is only around two hours away by train too, which is pretty handy if you need to shoot off to the Big Smoke for a meeting.

However, all this good stuff doesn’t come cheap. Good quality business space is highly sought after and rates could be higher than somewhere smaller, especially in the city centre or somewhere desirable like the waterfront or Media City. House prices have also risen steeply in the last few years, particularly in the more desirable suburbs.

You should also take in to account the competition you’ll face. The chances are there’ll be more people doing what you do in the big city, so standing out’s more difficult.

Now. On to Warrington. It might not boast the sporting or musical history that helps pull people in, and the town’s name isn’t as glamorous as the region’s two big-hitters. However, factors like access to highly skilled workers, current business stock levels, the number of business start-ups, digital connectivity, and housing affordability all help it score highly as a major centre of employment in the North West.

In fact, Warrington is the most-productive town in the region according to City Metric. Wages are just about on a par with both Manchester and Liverpool and there’s a very low level of people relying on government support in the town. Put these together with the town’s proximity to the M62,M6 and M56 motorways, and great rail links to London, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, and it all adds up to create a thriving economy.

Where you choose to do business is up to you. But making The Base in Warrington your base could make the difference between being a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond.