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Fast-track planning speeds Ideal Shopping firm's growth


A successful Peterborough-based catalogue shopping company has been helped to achieve rapid expansion by the fast-track planning processes initiated by Peterborough City Council and the support of local property professionals.

Since moving to the city from Hertfordshire in 1992, Ideal Shopping Direct Plc has achieved rapid growth. From its first small business unit, the company has achieved continual expansion and last year it distributed 57 million catalogues.

Now the company has more than doubled the size of its operation with the construction of a new 72,500 square feet office and warehouse facility on a 4.9 acre site in Newark Road, Peterborough.

"This whole success story underlines the dynamic results which can be achieved by the coordinated actions of everyone involved in Peterborough's business community," said Gloria Milne, chief executive of Greater Peterborough Investment Agency (GPIA). "It illustrates how the public authorities, local business support organisations and business community are all working together for the area's benefit."

Stephen Hawkins, from Peterborough property agents Barker Storey Matthews, explained how several elements were involved in the success of Ideal Shopping Direct's move. "Local property developer Ancaster Homes purchased the Newark Road site, which had originally been earmarked for a bank computer centre, in January 1999," he said.

"We were in the process of developing speculative outline plans for a warehouse/industrial development when we heard that Ideal Shopping needed to expand again.

"With the assistance of GPIA we identified another firm from Huntingdon which was willing to relocate to Peterborough and take on the lease of the 33,000 square feet building which Ideal Shopping was then occupying. It was also willing to delay its move until Ideal Shopping's new facility was built.

"Since the land already had outline planning permission for light industrial and warehouse purposes, the council's planning department was able to move very quickly and we were given the go-ahead in a matter of weeks. As well as being more than double the floor area of the previous premises, the new facility has greater eaves height which provides even more storage capacity."

Ideal Shopping's managing director Paul Wright said: "Moving to Peterborough was the start of a phenomenal period of growth for us. Starting with one unit at the Flag Business Exchange, we gradually expanded into adjoining units, then took a temporary warehouse at Orton Southgate before moving to an existing building in Newark Road.

"Now our new warehouse and offices provide the basis for a further programme of expansion which will result in 100 new jobs being created. This year we aim to raise catalogue distribution to about 60 million which will make us one of the largest independent mail order companies in Europe."

With very little modern quality industrial accommodation available in Peterborough, Stephen Hawkins believes rental prices will soon increase to the level where it will encourage more new speculative development projects. "There's a shortage of supply and increasing demand," he said.

February 2000

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