Buoyant businesses still need bigger premises

THE need for smart new premises for successful and expanding small companies demonstrates the underlying strength of the Huntingdonshire economy, even if times are tough in the house-building sector, the area s pre-eminent business park developer believes

THE need for smart new premises for successful and expanding small companies demonstrates the underlying strength of the Huntingdonshire economy, even if times are tough in the house-building sector, the area's pre-eminent business park developer believes.

Artisan Developments (UK) Limited, now in its second year as sponsor of the New Business category of The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards, sees encouraging the SME sector not only as commercially sensible but also as evidence of its commitment to the local economy.

"Many of our customers are quite young businesses that have been very successful, want to move out of smaller, cheaper leasehold premises, and want to move into premises that better reflect their success and image," said managing director Michael Eyres.

"Often they want to invest in premises rather than pay rent. So we are looking at customers who have clear potential to go further."


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Artisan has developed business parks in St Ives, St Neots, Godmanchester and Huntingdon - it moved its own offices at the turn of the year into one of its own developments at Vantage Park, off the A141 in Huntingdon, where it is still building units for sale or let. Two units are still available there, and space remains for a further 20,000 square feet of industrial and commercial space.

"The fact that we do a lot of development close to our own base is not lost on our clients."

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Having recently completed parks in St Neots and St Ives, Artisan is also looking for further development land there.

Mr Eyres said there was particular interest from clients looking at the longer term for their businesses, reflecting confidence in the local economy. "We are seeing a lot of interest in potential forward sales and forward lets. From start to finish, including the planning process, you are probably talking of going on for 18 months."

With the Artisan group's house-building arm Rippon Homes, which operates primarily in the East Midlands and Yorkshire, sharing in the short-term reduced activity in the domestic sector, the buoyancy of the commercial market is particularly important.

"There's much more diversity in the way people are moving in the business sector. We deal with individual businesses, and those who are able to trade successfully want new premises. What we are seeing is quite a lot of interest from companies, particularly those that are better organised and established," Mr Eyres added.

But the company clearly feels embedded in Huntingdonshire. "The other reason we sponsor the award is because we want to support Huntingdonshire as a district and recognise the new businesses that are essential to the success of the economy.

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