Starting a Business in Eastbourne

Starting a business in Eastbourne

Eastbourne is the sunniest place in the UK, which makes it a particularly attractive place to live and work. A large town on the south Sussex coast, just 19 miles east of Brighton, Eastbourne was initially developed as a popular seaside resort by the Duke of Devonshire in 1859. The classic Victorian seafront remains in place along the pebble beach and continues to attract visitors today. 

Nowadays Eastbourne now has a much broader economic base and is home to a wide range of industries. Along with its growing population and excellent connections to London and nearby Brighton, Eastbourne is increasingly being seen as a very attractive place to set up a new business.

Living in Eastbourne

Eastbourne is an attractive place to live, with its promenade, parks, and views of the South Downs. It has family-friendly suburbs full of Victorian and Edwardian homes, as well as modern apartment developments such as Sovereign Harbour.

Although still seen as a traditional seaside town, Eastbourne has also managed to develop a diverse economy. It still attracts its fair share of tourists and retirees but increasingly larger numbers of young creatives and businesses (especially in the tech industry) are coming to Eastbourne to set up shop.

Although Eastbourne doesn’t have the vibrant nightlife of nearby Brighton, it does have a thriving cultural sector. The town has multiple theatres, often plays host to the London Philharmonic, and has frequent concerts at venues such as the old bandstand. There are also plenty of traditional pubs and cafes, as well as several excellent ice cream parlours. As the population grows, the culture of Eastbourne will continue to grow and diversify too.

Below are some other interesting facts about Eastbourne:

  • Eastbourne is one of the fastest growing seaside towns in the UK, with its population rising from approximately 89,000 in 2001 to just over 99,000 by 2011.
  • The average age decreased over the same period as students, families, and commuters to London and Brighton moved into the area. The average qualification levels and employment rate have been rising too.
  • Eastbourne remains a popular destination for tourists, with its Victorian seafront, pebble beach, Napoleonic era fort, and the surrounding beauty of the South Downs and white cliffs. As well as sightseers, the town also attracts numerous visitors for conferences and public events. In total, the town attracts about 5 million people each year.
  • The average property price in Eastbourne was £238,011 in 2015, which makes the town itself slightly cheaper than some of the surrounding areas such as Meads and Old Town. Prices have been increasing gradually, but are still low for the South East. New properties continue to be built to house the growing population.

Where to do Business in Eastbourne

Eastbourne town centre has many useful business spaces, including purpose built office blocks and converted residential properties. The town centre has many meeting and training rooms, networking spaces, and commercial properties too. Certain areas of town are being redeveloped, such as the Arndale Centre. The extension here will create new retail spaces, restaurants and other facilities to attract both businesses and consumers.

Other exciting changes are currently taking place around the attractive Sovereign Harbour, which is the biggest investment opportunity in East Sussex. Alongside new apartments and retail spaces, the harbour is gaining the Sea Change Innovation Park and Business Centre. The Innovation Mall will provide spaces for 60 or 70 small knowledge-based enterprises, alongside some larger companies. Flexible office and workshop spaces will be available in the business centre to provide homes for startups and small and medium sized businesses.

Eastbourne also has a selection of business parks with good transport links and flexible offices and workspaces to buy or lease. Among these are some well established industrial parks that have facilities suitable for manufacturing, specialist engineering, and heavier industry.

The main business areas in Eastbourne can be divided into seven clusters:

  • Brampton Road Industrial Estate, Hampton Park Industrial Park and Harvington Business Park. Home to HMD Kontro, a world-class manufacturer of advanced pumps, and the packaging operations of manufacturing firm Teva UK Ltd, which is a major supplier to the NHS.
  • Highfield South Industrial Estate and Hargreaves Business Park, offering a selection of industrial and office spaces.
  • Highfield North Industrial Estate and Highfield Park, which provides light industrial and warehouse spaces.
  • Birch Road, Hawthorns and Compton Industrial Estates. Alfa Laval, another internationally respected pump manufacturer based in Eastbourne is located here, as is one of the branches of the fast-growing painting and decorating retailer C Brewer and Sons Ltd. H.T. White & Company, distributors of alcoholic and soft drinks, are a fourth-generation Eastbourne company that is also based in this area.
  • Hammonds Drive Industrial Estate and Redwood Business Park, providing industrial and warehouse spaces. Phase Electrical Distributors, one of the fastest growing companies in the southeast, has a branch here, as do several companies in the construction sector.
  • Finmere and Britland Industrial Estates, which include commercial and industrial spaces as well as warehousing. Companies based here include printers and manufacturers.
  • Courtlands Industrial Estate, Southbourne Business Park and the Technology Business Park, providing light industrial, warehouse and office spaces in a convenient central location.

The wider East Sussex area also has plenty of business and industrial parks, located in Hastings, Polegate, Bodiam, Lewes, Newhaven, Crowborough, Easons Green, Forest Row, Hailsham, Heathfield, Uckfield, Wadhurst, and Westham.

The South Wealden Growth Corridor brings together these different areas, ensuring good transport links and giving businesses a boost in local planning. Developing sites such as the Sovereign Harbour innovation centre, new and established business parks, and neighbouring universities and towns are working together to create new opportunities in Eastbourne and East Sussex. 

Business Support in Eastbourne

Eastbourne is a town that is keen to grow and attract new businesses, so there are plenty of places to turn to for support. In addition to the Chamber of Commerce and other organisations offering business services and advice, there are many ways to connect with other businesses in the area.

  • Locate East Sussex provides free and impartial advice to help businesses to start up in, expand or relocate to the area. It can help businesses find the right location in East Sussex, access funding, and connect with the local planning authorities. It also provides links to the best local resources for training, recruitment, and networking.
  • The Federation of Small Businesses provides support for self-employed individuals and small businesses. The Eastbourne, Lewes and Wealden branch organises networking events and provides business services including advice on everything from managing energy costs to tackling legal issues.
  • Eastbourne UnLtd Chamber of Commerce is the largest chamber of commerce in the southeast, with about 600 members. The Chamber is a very active supporter of local businesses. It can provide advice, training courses, information about funding opportunities, and support with exports and problems such as HR issues.
  • Business East Sussex provides advice on starting, running or growing a business in the area. It can also connect businesses with useful organisations, services and events. You can contact Business East Sussex to ask questions or seek free, impartial advice from someone with local experience.
  • Start Your Own Business is a useful resource for identifying business services in the Eastbourne or East Sussex areas. It focuses on connecting businesses with local organisations and support services, but also provides links to resources available at the national level.
  • EDEAL provides impartial advice, mentoring, and support services to businesses of all types and sizes. It also organises informal networking events on the first Friday of every month to help businesspeople in East Sussex connect with one another.

 The Economy of Eastbourne and East Sussex

Eastbourne and the surrounding East Sussex area has a diverse and growing economy that continues to offer opportunities to new, expanding and relocating businesses. Tourism remains a vital part of the local economy, but it has expanded from simple sightseeing to include numerous conferences and events. At the same time, businesses from a wide range of different sectors have also flourished in the area.

The creative sector has done particularly well in Eastbourne. The innovation charity Nesta has named the town as an important creative cluster in the UK, with 969 firms in the sector. Among these are businesses working in graphic and web design, app design, publishing, and events management.

A wide range of manufacturing and engineering companies are also based in and around Eastbourne. Nearby Hastings, Uckfield and Newhaven have also proven popular with companies working in advanced technical and scientific fields. Among their products are precision optics, pharmaceuticals, industrial pumps, measurement and testing devices, vacuum technology, aerospace equipment, electronics, and low carbon technologies. 

One of the largest of these companies is Veritek Global, which creates digital photo technology and medical scanners. It recently moved from its base in Eastbourne into the nearby Chaucer Business Park in Polegate, taking advantage of one of the new developments in the area and demonstrating how well East Sussex is able to retain its businesses even as they change and grow.

Another thriving sector in the Eastbourne area is wholesaling and distribution. Many companies value the investment that has been made in the local infrastructure. The close connections to London, Dover, Newhaven ferry port, the Channel Tunnel, and Gatwick Airport can be very valuable too. One of the biggest employers in town is Gardners Books, which is the largest distributor of books in the UK.

Other notable sectors in the local economy include the rapidly growing financial services sector, marine industries, construction, linguistics, and the motor trades. Apex Car Rental and the Caffyns PLC and Wilmoth’s car dealerships are among the fastest growing local businesses.

Many of the industries based in Eastbourne have benefited from the private and public investments made in the area. Continuing investment and a commitment to growth should enable the local economy to remain strong.

  • East Sussex has more than 1 million square feet of new business property available, including offices, workshops, and industrial facilities. Business incubation centres such as the Sussex Innovation Centre at Sovereign Harbour and the Eastbourne and Bexhill Innovation Malls are providing support for start-ups.
  • The Eastbourne-South Wealden and Hastings-Bexhill Growth Corridors have attracted significant investment and interest. The Bexhill to Hastings link road is expected to bring in another £1 billion of investment and the Assisted Area Status granted to this corridor should encourage more growth.
  • The Newhaven Clean Tech and Maritime Growth Corridor is making use of Newhaven’s port and ferry service to Dieppe. It has attracted investment from E.ON and provides the base for maintaining the offshore Rampion wind farm, among others.
  • SELEP (The South East Local Enterprise Partnership) brings together the local government, businesses, and the education sector to encourage growth and entrepreneurship across Essex, Kent and East Sussex. The government has invested £54.6 million in East Sussex through SELEP.
  • Four East Sussex programmes have benefited from governmental Regional Growth Funding: East Sussex Invest 3, Escalate, SUCCESS and Business Growth Grants. Together, these programmes have brought more than £14 million of grants and loans to the region.

How Can Plummer Parsons Accountants help Eastbourne Businesses?

Eastbourne is a very welcoming place for new businesses and there are many organisations offering support in the area. Whatever the nature of your business though, when it comes to your finances it really does pay to seek the professional services of a qualified accountant. Finding the right accountant can really make a difference when it comes to getting you off on the right foot.

Plummer Parsons can provide all of the accountancy services you need in East Sussex. We can advise on the financial aspects of your business plan, help you to identify where savings can be made, prepare and file your tax returns with HMRC and even assist with your payroll. Ultimately as accountants, we can make your business more profitable, helping you to establish a plan for long term business growth.

As a local business we have tons of experience working with businesses in the Eastbourne and East Sussex areas. We have worked in all kinds of industry sectors, helping startups establish themselves. 

If you are thinking of setting up your business in Eastbourne and want to know more, then give us a call today.