A survey amongst small businesses in Warrington suggests the town’s economy is in good hands and ‘ready for whatever is thrown at us,’ says Steve Park, managing director of Warrington & Co and director of growth at Warrington Borough Council.
Tenants of the high technology hub at The Base in Dallam Lane delivered strong sales growth, export development and job creation during 2018, the survey findings show.
“The results are quite remarkable,” says Mr Park.
“Average sales growth across our tenant base in 2018 was 46 per cent, whilst 41 per cent of companies have taken on new staff since moving to The Base,” said Mr Park. “The most encouraging finding relates to the number that launched new products or services, which is a key indicator of future growth potential. Remarkably, 66 per cent did so in the last year and 58 per cent have collaborated with other tenants in the building to help them. Warrington’s economy is now amongst the most dynamic in the UK.”
The Base is home to a wide range of businesses involved in different aspects of technology, software and engineering development, many around the transition to ‘Industry 4.0’, the move towards systems integration and digital transformation to speed up manufacturing and business processes and customisation. Currently, more than 220 staff work in the Grade A office building.
Sylvie Morton, business development manager for Langtree, which manages The Base on behalf of Warrington & Co, believes the ‘eco-system’ in the building encourages an outward looking and ambitious culture amongst tenants.
“We see tenants meeting in our collaboration area all the time and to find that borne out in the research findings is gratifying.
“Our tenants also recognise that their growth will depend on a skilled workforce and so a quarter have recruited apprentices and 41 per cent of all employees are graduates. The place just fizzes with energy and we have put in place an infrastructure of partners that are committed to helping them grow,” said Mrs Morton.
And, she says, tenants are not afraid to ask for help, with 58 per cent having turned to public sector agencies for some form of support.
The findings follow on the heels of one of The Base’s most high profile tenants, open-source web developer Ixis, reporting record profits following its management buyout. The company increased revenues by more than 50 per cent to £1.7m, with profit trebling from £227,000 to £638,000.
Steve Park believes the most encouraging statistic lies in the number of tenants exporting. “A third of our tenants export, which is three times greater than the national average. An export-oriented economy is a successful one and so this statistic bodes well for Warrington as a whole.”