There are a considerable number of challenges in developing a successful business. Initially, your product or service needs to stand out from the crowd and draw in customers. From then on, it’s about developing the business and generating sales while investing in growth. One of the critical factors in helping grow a business is the location in which it is based.
The location of a business can be highly advantageous and really impact the success and scale of growth a business experiences. Choosing the wrong location could cause significant issues and place financial strains and constraints on the business.
Throughout the United Kingdom, there have been traditional ‘hotspots’ for industries. In the 21st century, however, the country has seen London becoming increasingly influential in its ability to draw businesses and industries to one central location.
While there are advantages to having a business based in London, notably the access to a vast range of customers and collaborative business partners, there are some significant drawbacks.
The most notable drawback being the ever-increasing, cost of living and high business costs. For this reason, and others, numerous businesses are once again looking to base themselves throughout the UK and take advantage of the opportunities which lie outside London.
One such company is Robinson’s of England, a high-end furniture specialist who focuses on producing and restoring the historic Chesterfield sofas and chairs. Founded 18 years ago by David Robinson, who still runs the business today, Robinson’s have been able to take advantage of being based outside London, and have generated great success.
Robinson’s of England are based in the North East city of Newcastle, and Mr Robinson described the decision as “a natural move.”
The advantages of being based in the North East were clear to Mr Robinson. When it came to finding a workspace, “there are some great sites and an excellent array of premises available, from vast warehouses to more quirky workshops.” More importantly, compared to London “there are certainly good savings to be had on premises.” Being able to make financial savings on the essential areas such as the building costs allows a business to invest that money in other areas to help grow the business.
Attracting employees to a business is a crucial component to help generate growth and Robinson’s have been able to attract highly skilled workers to the company with the help of their location. “I personally feel that the quality of life you can offer employees is vital,” Mr Robinson said. “The North East offers such a great quality of life. The cost of housing for employees and the overall standard of living and schools is excellent.
“We’ve had the same team for many years now, and we are very fortunate. We in the North East are renowned for being exceptional manufacturers.”
For Robinson’s of England, however, working in a sector which targets high-end customers, the abundance of potential customers located in London has meant overcoming some challenges of being based away from the capital.
“I do find myself hopping on a train with an overnight stay almost weekly,” Mr Robinson admitted. “It is important to be able to build and maintain face-to-face relationships with both commercial and residential clients.”
Due to their location in Newcastle and the importance of seeing examples of the product in person for an item such as furniture, Robinson’s also offers clients the chance to view their furniture by sending vehicles with examples to the client. This is just one way in which Robinson’s have been able to base themselves away from London and continue to thrive.
Another critical reason Robinson’s have been able to succeed is that they understand where the majority of their business is coming from. Mr Robinson acknowledged that the company is “predominantly internet-based” and as such can thrive from the North East. This was one reason that Mr Robinson decided to “maintain our manufacturing firmly in the North East” despite having previously held showrooms in London.
Robinson’s of England have also been able to source the materials they need without any issue. When it comes to exporting, Robinson’s have not found being based in Newcastle to have caused any problems. Mr Robinson said, “exporting whether it be within the EU or outside the EU is super simple, and we do very much depend on exporting for approximately 50% of the business.”
Overall Mr Robinson believes being based in Newcastle has allowed his company to achieve success through “well controlled fixed costs, having an amazing staff who travel from neighbouring counties and we also have an incredible digital partner here in Newcastle who plays a pivotal role.”
Robinson’s of England act as a great example of a business who understood that they could succeed without being based in London through the advantages a city such as Newcastle offers.
David Robinson is the founder and manager of Robinson of England, who’s Chesterfield Sofas have been sold to clients such as Google and Red Bull. More information can be found at their website.