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Surrey Economic Prospects – March 2018

Surrey Economic Prospects – March 2018


 -Ericsson has confirmed that it will relocate its UK headquarters from Guildford to Reading.
 -Guildford’s new £30 million shopping centre, the Tunsgate Quarter, has opened.
- The unemployment rate (measured by the percentage of the working age population claiming Job Seekers Allowance) remains steady at 0.7% but the numbers claiming has increased.

Data and analysis – labour market

Unemployment, measured by the number of Job Seeker Allowance (JSA) claimants, increased in February by 245 claimants (up to 5,360 (0.7%)) relative to the previous month. Although the unemployment rate has been steady over recent months, this is the highest number of claimants since October 2014.

Unemployment has increased from a recent low of 0.5% (3,925 claimants) in December 2015 but remains low by historical standards.

The unemployment rate in Surrey’s districts and boroughs varies from 0.6% in Waverley, Guildford and Mole Valley to 1.1% in Tandridge.

Further information on unemployment, including unemployment rates in other Surrey districts and boroughs, by age range and by duration can be found on Surreyi here.

Business intelligence1

Guildford-based Ericsson is relocating its UK headquarters to Reading. Ericsson will move from Guildford Business Park to Reading after letting around 37,600 sq ft in Thames Tower. Approximately 800 people are currently employed by the company in Guildford.

Guildford’s Tunsgate Quarter has opened. OKA, The White Company, Bobbi Brown, Loaf, Cath Kidston and Lululemon have all opened with further shops and restaurants due to open over the coming months.

The Gatwick Diamond Initiative (GDI) has launched its regular online survey to help identify business issues and trends. In its latest survey the GDI would like to explore diversity, inclusion and equality. To complete the survey go to

McKay Securities has sold a warehouse in Egham in a deal worth £19.91 million. The 90,890 sq ft unit is currently occupied by World Duty Free Group.

Two vacant properties at the Centrium building in Woking have been placed on the market. One property previously traded as Charlie Choys & Lotus Lounge and provides 5,500 sq ft of space.

Unilever is relocating its London HQ to Rotterdam. However, the company noted that UK staff would be unaffected by the move and there would be no impact on the company’s operations in Leatherhead.

Italian restaurant group Prezzo is set to close 94 restaurants in response to falling sales. Restaurants in Guildford and Cobham will be shut. The group operates venues under the Prezzo, Chimichanga, Café Uno, Cleaver (in Cobham) and MEXIco brands.

Epsom-based Oracle Group has been named one of the best places to work in property, the only marketing and communications agency to make the grade of just 52 companies in Property Week’s Best Places to Work in Property 2018. The awards recognise companies for their effort and achievement whilst celebrating the strides the industry has made to become more diverse, inclusive and attractive to work in.

Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways has welcomed Surrey’s £1.8 million share of extra national funding to help fix potholes caused by recent ice and snow, although he added that the county council had hoped the government would match the £5 million investment it announced in March.

Esso is staging a series of events for residents to find out more about its proposals for a replacement for an aviation fuel pipeline which runs from Southampton to Heathrow. One proposal follows a similar route to the current pipeline – through or near Frimley, Lightwater, Chertsey and Ashford – while the second proposed route goes past Farnham, Worplesdon, Pyrford, Byfleet, Addlestone and Ashford. Events will take place in Ashford, Chobham and Wrecclesham or residents can comment online.

All of Toys R Us’ UK stores (including those in Woking and Staines) are set to close with attempts by administrators to find a buyer proving unsuccessful. A closing down sales programme began in March and is expected to take roughly six weeks to complete.

1 Sources include Insider Media, CoStar Group and Surrey News.

A campaign for investment on the Brighton Mainline, which passes through east Surrey, has been backed by the county council. The county council has joined the Brighton Mainline Alliance, which is a group of organisations and businesses spearheaded by the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership. Full details can be found in the campaign document.

Whelan & Grant, a Walton-based group which specialises in reinforced concrete and architectural metalwork has increased turnover and profits. Turnover climbed to £36.1 million in the year to 30 June 2017, up from £30.1 million in 2016. Pre-tax profit increased to £3.3 million.

Forest Exhibitions, a Guildford-based event business behind the Automechanika Birmingham trade show has been acquired by German exhibition company Messe Frankfurt.

Woking-based aviation regulations and air safety specialist Baines Simmons has secured a contract with the Ministry of Defence. The business will work on the Safety Training for Error Prevention programme alongside Frazer-Nash. The four year contract is expected to be worth up to £3 million.

Private companies have been asked to come forward with ideas to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow. The link will be one of the first projects under government plans to invite third parties to invest in the rail network. There are a number of consortia looking to construct a southern rail link.

Surrey Youth Focus is launching a new e-bulletin called “Hidden Talent” aimed at encouraging Surrey employers to be pro-active about recruiting young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Employers across Surrey are struggling to attract and retain talent, so this is an exciting, significantly underutilised pool of talent for employers. To harness “Hidden Talent” in Surrey sign up to the new Hidden Talent e-bulletin here. To see the the current edition of the e-bulletin click here. To find out more info please contact

Sumi Wang, the Redhill-based entrepreneur behind the eFoldi, (a collapsible and transportable mobility scooter), has been named British Inventor of the Year. Recently Sumi opened a crowd funding campaign. With 30 days to raise funds and a target of £300,000, Sumi surpassed expectations to raise £1,146,270 from 776 investors – 327% more than the original target.

Get Nourished, owned by Horley resident David Towse, has secured a nationwide distribution deal for his iced coffees with Holland & Barrett. Get Nourished produces high protein lactose and gluten free food and drink and received a Business Support Grant from Reigate and Banstead Borough Council.

Redhill-based Cubic Transportation has won Transport Supplier of the Year 2018. Cubic is responsible for the creation of the Oyster card and modern turn-styles. The transport awards are run in association with Transport Times.

Revenue has increased at Guildford-based The Gym Group. In the year to 31 December 2017, revenue at the gym operator climbed to £91.4 million. The Gym Group now operates 130 sites and at the year-end had 607,000 members, an increase of 35.5 per cent on the previous year.

The county council’s highways team has provided the latest information about work taking place on Surrey’s roads. The round-up includes details of a bridge closure in Leatherhead.

QDS Contracting, based in Guildford, has been bought out of administration by FLI QDS Remediation. QDS is a specialist contracting business carrying out contaminated land and water remediation projects.

Pre-tax profits have edged towards the £100 million-mark at insurer esure Group based in Reigate. Gross written premiums have increased by 25.2% to £820.2 million.

Frimley-based G3G has opened a northern base. G3G, launched in 1999 to provide SAP consultancy services has chosen Sci-Tech Daresbury as its 4,300 sq ft northern hub.

Full-year pre-tax profit has increased to record heights at Guildford-based Petards Group. In the year to 31 December 2017 the advanced security and surveillance systems group, posted pre-tax profits of £1.2 million, up 30 per cent on 2016. Revenue increased for the fourth successive year to £15.6 million.

Leatherhead-based construction company Wates Group has a record £5.1 billion order book and rising turnover and pre-tax profits. For the year to 31 December 2017, Wates reported turnover of £1.62 billion (compared to £1.53 billion in 2016). Pre-tax profits increased to £35.7 million.

Ultimate Database, a web application development company based in Redhill has reached the end of a two-year redevelopment programme of their online development tool. Find out more here.

National news2

Britain’s cultural and creative businesses are set to benefit as part of an industrial strategy deal agreed between government and the Creative Industries Council. As part of a Creative Industries Sector Deal, more than £150 million is being jointly invested by government and industry to help cultural and creative businesses across the Britain thrive. A Cultural Development Fund will also be launched for cities and towns to bid for a share of £20 million to invest in creative and cultural initiatives. The government is investing more than £33 million in immersive technologies such as virtual reality video games, interactive art shows and augmented reality experiences in tourism. Up to £2 million will also be made available to kickstart an industry-led skills package, including a creative careers programme.

Exports from the South East increased by 10.9 per cent to more than £45 billion in 2017 according to the latest figures from HMRC. The results show that the South East is home to more than 24,000 exporters with an average value of £1.8 million per exporter. UK exports rose 11.5 per cent to £625.9 billion in the year from February 2017 to the end of January 2018. ONS data states that the UK service sector increased exports by 10.1 per cent to £281.4 billion, increasing the service sector surplus to £107.9 billion.

The government said maximising the use of land, strengthening protections for the Green Belt and a greater emphasis on converting planning permissions into homes were at the heart of its new planning reforms. Click here to see the draft revised policy framework (NPPF).

NatWest has announced plans to support 5,000 entrepreneurs through its comprehensive programme of free mentoring, insight and bespoke coaching developed for entrepreneurs who want to grow and scale their business. The NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator is the UK’s largest free business accelerator network and is capable of supporting 1,000 entrepreneurs simultaneously in 12 hubs across the country.

2 Sources include Insider Media, CoStar Group and Surrey News.

Basingstoke and Dean Borough Council and Hampshire County Council has chosen master developer Ubran&Civic to deliver their plans for the first phase of Manydown.

Phillip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered the Spring Statement on March 13th providing an update on the economy, the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts and progress since the Autumn Budget 2017.

Key announcements included:
- an increase in the National Living Wage to £7.83;
- the next business rates revaluation will be brought forward from 2022 to 2021, revaluations will take place every three years thereafter;
- English cities will be able to bid for the remaining £840 million funding available for improving city transport connections.


Mark Pearson
Director of Business Growth
Surrey County Council
07581 098 157
Twitter @investinsurrey
LinkedIn Group – Invest in Surrey

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