MENU

Stockport's hidden gems

Rhys Owen, Leasing Director, Orbit Developments, shares his views on how Stockport town centre needs to connect together.

When it comes to marketing our properties, I like to eat, sleep and breathe an area to fully understand what it has to offer and with that comes a regular amble around the many corners of the town centre.

On a recent wander with colleagues we started off at the newly developed Stockport Exchange.

Whilst the changes around the train station have been well received, it was noted how the route from the train station down to the neighbouring bus station was very unwelcoming, taking the shine off the changes around the station approach.

We know there is a £40m redevelopment plan for the bus station and this will bring improvements - new shops, cafes and amenities - to the terminal.

However, it needs to be recognised that improving areas in ‘silos’ and not thinking about the connecting journeys will still leave a poor impression in visitors’ minds.

Another area showing signs of this silo thinking is Stockport Old Town.

Despite exciting changes bubbling under the surface, the hotly debated Produce Hall in the Marketplace doesn’t show signs of any upcoming changes, and whilst Underbanks and lower Hillgate have some quality independent retailers they aren’t grouped together, just interspersed with boarded up shops, which left me feeling frustrated.

Again, instead of thinking you’ve discovered the ‘Northern Quarter’ of Stockport, you’re left a bit disheartened by the disappointing journey in between each store.

It’s been said many times before, but we need to work on linking Stockport together and ensuring our visitors leave Stockport after having a positive experience.

We have all the pieces of the jigsaw, but they need to be put together in the right way.

Signposting for Town success

Rhys Owen, Leasing Director, Orbit Developments, shares his thoughts on how Stockport can accelerate its success.

When looking at other local town centres such as Altrincham and Bury, who have both made huge strides in turning around their town centre offer, I see one thing in common that Stockport lacks, which is a well-defined and manageable town centre.

The true boundary of our town centre has always been open to debate, a question the BID spent some time considering when putting together its initial proposal.

There are parts of the town centre which have benefitted from significant investment, not only in cash, but in time and resources too.

This has brought visible improvements to the public realm areas immediately surrounding developments, in addition to healthy marketing budgets providing scheme branding, identity creation and regular communication to local stakeholders.

I have had a number of positive comments from friends and business contacts about these improvements. However they all note how these fantastic new developments still fail to guide and entice them on a full journey from one side of the town centre to the other.

Clear and engaging signposting is a key element of what could link the various parts of the town centre and encourage people to take some time to explore exactly what Stockport has to offer.

We know it is already fairly disjointed and spread over a greater area than many other town centres, and there is the added challenge of various hills and steps as seen in our local topography.

We should look to towns who tell a story through their street signage, in order to get some inspiration for our own signposting challenges.

If we can get visitors moving from one ‘zone’ to another then success is sure to follow.

Building on Stockport's strengths

Rhys Owen, Leasing Director, Orbit Developments, shares his views on the changing face of Stockport's high street and how artisan markets will help boost the town.


It’s a shame to see a high street brand leave the town, but the reality is that if those stores weren’t appealing to customers, and weren’t attractive in appearance or product range then is it a surprise?


There’s a general feeling that some brands have almost abandoned their Stockport branches. They’ve been left looking like temporary stores, without investment, refurbishment or slight improvements, despite other stores in similar towns undergoing  modernisation.


In order to attract shoppers into the town centre, we need more than just the ‘brand name’, we need full investment into the outlets themselves. Retail across the country, if not the world, is changing. Consumers see shopping as a chore, they are looking for experiences.


Consumers want unique and ‘Instagrammable’ products and stores to show friends and family what they are doing at the weekend.


Markets have made a return, but with a twist. They are attractive Artisan markets, food markets or craft markets, stocked full of products that are unique and can’t be bought readily online.


And this is one of Stockport town centre’s strengths that we should take advantage of. Our independent offer is strong and growing and there is a real opportunity to utilise the aesthetically pleasing areas of Underbanks and the Market Place in order to develop and grow this offer.


With independent retailers comes a need for fresh thinking and flexibility is key here in order to help the retail community. We need to create opportunities for start-up outlets maybe through pop-up stores or incentives on vacant space.
 

Proud to be an ambassador to the town

Rhys Owen, Leasing Director, Orbit Developments shares his thoughts on the changing face of Stockport.

The saying goes that the best form of advertising is via positive word of mouth. So, it makes sense that following recent changes and investment in Stockport town centre, the council is underway with its next marketing campaign – using advocates to drive forward the message that ‘Stockport is changing’.


Recently, Stockport launched two projects; the first being a place marketing campaign ‘Stockport. Change Here.’ with Creative Concern and the second its Town Centre Ambassador Project, to which I am very pleased to say I was invited to join. 


The ambassador programme encourages local stakeholders who are passionate and regularly engage with the town to actively promote the changing fortunes of the centre.


As the largest commercial property landlord in Stockport, we represent the opinions of many businesses here in the town to the Council, but equally we have a responsibility to share the recent changes that have taken place to our customers and pitch Stockport’s changing landscape to new occupiers. 
Recently I had a challenge on my hands with two companies looking at the town centre. Neither had ventured into our historic town for over 10 years and were blissfully unaware of the changes taking place.


Suffice to say, a short drive around the town helped them to see the changes and I gave my little pitch on behalf of our town centre.
With help via marketing material and the new updated Stockport prospectus, ambassadors like myself have been provided with great tools to tell the story of how Stockport is moving into the future.


I’m sure these positive messages are being communicated by all of Stockport's business community and myself and my fellow ambassadors are not alone in spreading the news.
 

Everyday Loans on the up with new office move in town centre

The UK’s largest branch-based lender of unsecured loans to sub-prime borrowers has reconfirmed its commitment to Stockport town centre after moving its Stockport branch from the market place to Orbit Development’s Beckwith House on Wellington Road South.

The management team behind Everyday Loans opted for the new 2,337 sq ft office accommodation to help to deliver an ambitious business plan for 2018 and expand the customer base across the UK.
 
Beckwith House will provide office space for the team of five team who head up the day-to-day running of the Stockport operation – part of a 53-strong national network - - with a further 12 branches expected to open in the next 12 months.

Due to the extensive network of branches, most Everyday Loan customers are less than five miles away from an outlet which provides an opportunity for clients to have a personal conversation with an advisor – a big USP when compared with competitors within the sector.

A face to face lending approach in the sub-prime sector is unusual, but Everyday Loans has made it work with spectacular application conversion rates and high levels of customer satisfaction.

The personal approach enables long term, meaningful relationships with customers, providing a product that meets their needs, in turn generating repeat business from satisfied clients.

Jon Wiggins, Managing Director of Everyday Loans, commented:

“We take the time to understand our customer’s needs on a human level which online processes and algorithms can miss. Where our competitors can’t or won’t go, we establish relationships and lend profitably.”

Jon talked positively of support from Orbit Developments from the on the ground team and also of the importance of making the Stockport move now.

“Beckwith House is the perfect space to base our operations from. It is a professional environment to facilitate the growth we want to achieve whilst simultaneously supporting the branch network which is expanding all the time.”

Leasing Director for Orbit Developments Rhys Owen said: “We are delighted to welcome Everyday Loans to the property. The reception area and work space has been recently refurbished, which provides high quality office space for our customers to enjoy. We wish the team the very best of luck for their ambitious expansion plans.”

Rhys also commented on the changing landscape of Stockport town centre and the benefits it brings to customers: “Over the past 12 months, we have seen continued growth in the trend for businesses outside the town centre relocating here due to the new developments.”

“Our latest customers Rush Insurance and Mechatech have both come from further afield - Old Trafford and Macclesfield respectively - citing the transformation of the town and its wide variety of amenities as a contributing factor in their decision to relocate.”

Stockport’s centre continues to change for the better with the stylish Berretto Lounge now open and The Gym Group coming in the next few weeks both at the new leisure scheme Redrock. A planning application for the next phase of Stockport Exchange has also been submitted for a new six-storey office building to be developed by 2020, further enhancing the gateway to the town

Fast-growing audio visual business moves into Stockport

Independent AV business Green Monkey has moved into Orbit Development’s Beckwith House in Stockport town centre to support ambitious expansion plans for 2018.


Previously in Reddish, the relocation to the town centre means more convenient travel for employees, a range of amenities at Mersey shopping centre, Redrock and access to The Hub at Regent House, a shared working space and breakout area.


Managing Director Elizabeth Downing decided to relocate Green Monkey after delivering the business’s most successful year in 2017 and to support growth.


Currently working across corporate, education, hospitality and public sectors, Green Monkey has established a strong customer base locally.
They now supply a live video feed solution to Stockport Coroners Court, have provided printed whiteboards to Stockport NHS Foundation’s Stepping Hill Hospital, and installed a Clevertouch and entry management system for Mastercall Healthcare.


They have also worked closely with Stockport-based engineering and design business Piggott and Whitfield, to provide cutting-edge AV solutions for its clients.


The company is also currently engaged in the AV refurbishment of the Manchester branch of HSB Engineering Insurance and the headquarters of locally-based wholesale hairdressing business Alan Howard.


Commenting Elizabeth said: “We operate in the AV industry but are unique in our offering. We have an online store providing low-tech AV and office products such as dry erase paints, wall coverings, noticeboards, whiteboards, projection equipment and other products.”


“Our very first office was actually at Orbit’s property Sovereign House in Cheadle and we dealt with Rhys Owen then too. It’s nice to return to an Orbit building. They have given us a very warm welcome and been extremely helpful with the move.”


“Beckwith House is ideally located for the range of amenities and public transport links which will help us with recruitment in the future.”


Rhys Owen said that it was great to see the progress that Green Monkey had made and that Beckwith would be a platform for further growth.


“It rewarding to see a company that you worked with at the start of their journey grow from strength to strength as Green Monkey have done.”


“There is no better time to be moving into the town centre, with the new Redrock facilities now open nearby and the redevelopment of Stockport train station at Stockport Exchange. We wish them every success for the future.”


Green Monkey is looking for an apprentice to get involved in office administration so please contact them for more information on careers@gmav.co.uk.
 

Businesses are embracing our changing town

Stockport town centre has seen a lot of change over the past few years and now businesses are actively relocating into the town centre. Rhys Owen, Leasing Director, Orbit Developments shares his thoughts on Stockport transforming into a business hub.

Whilst the face of Stockport town centre has physically changed over the past few years, as a major commercial property landlord in Stockport Orbit has seen an ‘invisible’ shift too, quietly boosting the positive perception of the town centre.


Stockport is presenting itself as a prospering, well connected and forward-thinking town centre, and this has started to show with many of the businesses looking for and taking office space relocating from outside the town centre and the borough.


Over the past 12 months, we have seen continued growth in the trend for businesses outside the centre to move into it, with the likes of Green Monkey AV and Aqua Design both coming from around a mile outside the town centre.


Similarly, Rush Insurance and Mechatech have both come from further afield; Old Trafford and Macclesfield respectively. The companies praised the transformation of the town centre, and its wide variety of amenities was also a contributing factor in their decisions to relocate.
There is another story behind activity in the last 12 months, a continuing trend of growth of existing town centre customers and the recruitment that that comes with it.

There is another story behind activity in the last 12 months, a continuing trend of growth of existing town centre customers and the recruitment that comes with it.


We’ve seen a greater number of customers growing into larger offices such as Grassroots Recruitment, Guardian Education and Safety to Business and they aren’t alone, with Hatters and Bellyflop TV upsizing their office space and taking on new staff to cope with additional workloads.
 

So, whilst the new developments are a physical reminder of change in Stockport, it’s important we analyse the impact the investments are having on the town and the resulting affect on the businesses being attracted and growing within the town – businesses who will hopefully become Stockport’s biggest advocates.

Stockport has tools for success in 2018

2017 was a fantastic year for Stockport with its continued growth and redevelopment. Rhys Owen, Leasing Director, Orbit Developments shares his thoughts on Stockport continuing its growth in 2018.


"This year has seen major changes, development and highlights in Stockport’s town centre, which will fuel much of the progress 2018 promises.
Planning applications are being developed for the next phase of Stockport Exchange, plans refined for the improved bus interchange and the train station, and there will be visible change too with the completion of some key residential developments, the demolition of the former cinema and the completion of further access works under the TCAP works.


Everywhere you look the media is reporting the changes happening in Stockport, and pleasingly it’s with a positive view.
The noise is reaching other parts of GM and Cheshire and we are seeing Stockport appealing to increasing numbers of businesses from outside the town.
Companies from Macclesfield and Old Trafford are just two of the latest firms to be welcomed into our 12-building strong portfolio in Stockport town centre, having heard about and seen all the changes taking place.


However, we need to be looking ahead to 2018 and starting to put plans in place that will bring something new to our town.
We should take inspiration from other town centres across Greater Manchester and encourage key groups who are driving improvement to visit different locations to pull these ideas together.


Christmas has provided many opportunities and ‘easy wins’ for improving the street scene; festive markets, oversized street props to generate chatter on social media channels and create customer engagement or the improvement of accessibility across the town such as a Christmas train linking the different parts of the town centre."
 

Christmas has arrived in Stockport

It's been a year of change for Stockport with a successful light switch on and the opening of a new leisure complex.

Rhys Owen, Leasing Director, Orbit Developments, share his thoughts on change in Stockport.

Christmas is a time for reflection and looking back over the past 12 months, it’s clear to see that 2017 has been a significant year and a turning point for Stockport.


We have new retailers, restaurants, hotels, a new gateway to the town and as we enter the festive month, we are being treated to a Christmas like Stockport has never seen before.


With performances from S Club, Lucy Spraggan and Amelia Lily to celebrate the light switch on at Merseyway, the official opening of our new leisure complex Redrock, festive themed light shows, Foodie Friday and a Makers Market, we’ve been given more reasons than ever to visit the town centre this Christmas.


There has also been a significant reduction in the amount of available office space led by the arrival of new businesses in the town centre, but one particularly positive trend has been the growth of so many of our customers, many of who only moved into the town centre within the last 2 or 3 years.
This is physical evidence that Stockport is evolving into not only a retail and leisure hub, but one of Greater Manchester’s leading business destinations too.


It’s clear this change wouldn’t have happened without the collaboration, hard work and commitment throughout 2017 from groups across the town such as Totally Stockport, Stockport Council, Stockport Old Town, Marketing Stockport - and many others.


We’re lucky to have these events, attractions and activities taking place right here on our doorstep, so I hope the business community shows their support and makes a point to visit the town centre over the festive period and drive more change for 2018.
 

Aqua Design Group moves into Stockport's Beckwith House

Graphic design agency Aqua Design Group is relocating to Orbit Developments’ Beckwith House in order to be closer to Stockport town centre and drive growth opportunities for the firm.

Previously in office accommodation further out of the town centre, owner and director Dylan Moore decided it was time to take advantage of opportunities created by an improving environment closer to town.

The design agency which has been run by Dylan for 14 years provides branding, graphic design and print management for small businesses, and also has experience in projects for larger companies like Ryman Stationery and Ann Summers.

He said: “Relocating to Beckwith House brings me into the heart of Stockport, close to the areas of regeneration and working alongside fellow small business – both in here and neighbouring Regent House.”

“I know Orbit proactively connects businesses via their networking events and other schemes and I thought now would be a good time to take advantage of it.”

Dylan Moore maximises his online presence through various social media channels and has won social media awards from some of the best in the business winning Theo Paphitis #SBS and Jacqueline Gold #MOM on Twitter.

“Being associated with entrepreneurs such as Theo Paphitis, certainly helps you to get noticed,” said Dylan. “We are keen to expand the digital and web side of the business and are currently looking to hire a specialist in this area to enhance existing skills.”

Dylan said his experience with Orbit in finding the property had been really positive.

“From finding the office on their website, to organising a viewing, doing the deal and sorting the paperwork, it has been a stress-free process from start to finish.”

Rhys Owen, Leasing Director for Orbit Developments in Stockport, commented:

“Beckwith House is ideal for smaller businesses such as Aqua Design Group who want to be based in Stockport town centre and take advantage of the amenities at Merseyway Shopping Centre and new leisure facilities at Redrock, whilst at the same time benefitting from affordable and high-quality offices.”

“We have refurbished the reception to provide a professional and contemporary entrance area for visitors and created suites as small as 108 sq ft which qualify for small business rate relief, bringing the monthly costs down even further. We are pleased to welcome Aqua Design Group to the portfolio and wish Dylan well.”

Wrightsure opens Stockport office to attract quality employees

Wrightsure Insurance Group – one of the largest privately-owned insurance brokers in the UK – has opened a new office to serve the Greater Manchester area, based in Orbit Development’s flagship Regent House property in Stockport town centre.

The new office will complement a well-established northern presence for Wrightsure who already have offices in Liverpool and Leeds.  The opening of the Stockport office is to provide a wider service offer across the North West.

Wrightsure serves thousands of clients throughout the UK with specialist schemes across many sectors including technology, haulage and passenger transport sectors.

It also has an extensive private client offering which it has boosted this week with a new product called Your Lifestyle where all personal insurances can be included under one policy.

Formed in 1975, Wrightsure places over £60 million pounds of client premiums annually into the UK insurance market and is also a registered Lloyd’s broker.

Led by Director Nigel Bailey, the new office is already attracting business from Stockport and the wider GM area and the team has grown with four new staff starting within six months of opening.

The company plans to reach £1million turnover by the end of 2018 and in five years have a £3million business employing up to 10 professional brokers.

The Wrightsure approach is based on listening and understanding each client’s activities, before analysing and reviewing their insurance and risk management requirements. The company then uses its experience to redesign insurance programmes and provide comprehensive solutions, with A+ rated insurer’s, designed specifically for that business and its needs.

Nigel commented on the decision behind choosing Stockport as the location for the Manchester office:

“We opted for Stockport – as opposed to another local district centre – mainly to help us attract quality employees in the future but to also have access to the M60 corridor.”

“There is no doubt that the town is on the up. It always had good transport links by bus and train, but we have been very impressed with the other investments going on to improve the environment around the office.

“Good food, shopping and leisure facilities are an important factor when people are deciding to join a business.” Stockport is really is a fantastic place to work.

Nigel added: “Orbit worked closely with us to find the right professional environment to recruit into, to welcome clients and set the tone from the off. It’s a great foundation for growth.”

Rhys Owen, Leasing Director for Orbit Developments commented:

“The level of investment being made into improving Stockport town centre is clearly having a positive impact already and business leaders can see the benefits of opening an office here – whether it be for employee satisfaction, ease of recruitment or fantastic transport connectivity options.”

“With major new developments such as the Redrock leisure and retail scheme aiming to be open and trading by late 2017 and bringing a host of new names including Pizza Express, Zizzi and Gourmet Burger Kitchen, we look forward to what the future will bring for Stockport.”

Social Care recruitment experts celebrate 10 years in Stockport

PS Recruitment, specialists in providing temporary and permanent roles in the social and health care sector, is celebrating ten years in Orbit Development’s Regent House.

The company, which has been based in Stockport town centre for a decade, employs a team of six people managing a range of placements 24/7, 365 days a year for local authorities like Stockport Council, as well as private and charitable sector clients.

“It’s been great being based in Stockport for all this time. We’re an agency which prides itself on providing the highest level of quality personnel for roles, so candidates need to visit our offices in order to be screened and interviewed before we can consider them for a position.” said Director Zara Shannon.

“The town centre not only provides easy access for both my team and our customers by car, but also offers a choice of transport options too thanks to the extensive bus and rail networks which has proven key to the business.”

Recent improvements to the town centre including the retail and leisure development Redrock and public realm area around Stockport Exchange have further aided the team and been of direct benefit.

Zara commented: “It was great to see a leading UK social care agency like Creative Support making the conscious decision to move its head office from Manchester into Stockport town centre. The relocation reflects the improvements and level of investment that has been made into the changing face of the town.

“The growing businesses community in Stockport and support from Stockport Council through the redevelopments shows ambition for the town and bodes well for us.”

PS Recruitment specialise in social and health care recruitment and provide a tailored, caring service to some of society’s most vulnerable children and adults.

The company now operates across multiple sectors of the market in Greater Manchester working with experts in learning disabilities, homelessness, mental health, youth offending, children and families and the elderly as well as niche areas like acquired brain injury, refugee and asylum.

Zara commented: “We currently manage a wide range of experienced professionals in post and get consistently positive feedback from customers with very specific needs. We always work to the highest standards of safe recruitment and vetting practice – compliance in social care is fundamental – and have excellent relationships with clients.

“When you work in the care sector the recruiting of the right person brings a special satisfaction and reward – you are really making a difference in the lives of vulnerable people.”

Orbit Developments Leasing Director, Rhys Owen, said:

“We offer many congratulations to Zara and her team on the 10-year milestone with us – it’s a great achievement.”

“There are a lot of stories about Stockport attracting new businesses keen to take advantage of all the £multi-million investments, but it’s equally encouraging to hear that companies who put their faith in the town 10 years ago, are still committed to the area and will benefit from the improvements and new amenities.”