Sectoral Opportunities

Colchester’s economic growth will stem from these sectors… 

Colchester’s Creative Heart 

Creative, Digital & Tech Prospectus

The construction sector returned to growth after the recession with significant civil and commercial contracts being placed.

Construction employs 3359 people – 3.5% of the Borough’s workforce – and accounts for 1,115 businesses, some 9.4% of the stock; these are slightly smaller shares than for the County but forming a significant cluster in North Essex.

Growth in the stock of construction businesses has been pronounced at County level after 2014 but has not been reflected in the Borough, where only a marginal increase in business units has occurred.

However, the Construction pipeline in North Essex is significant: major infrastructure projects like the new Arrivals Hall at Stansted, the Lower Thames Crossing, the A12/A120 widening, Sizewell C and Bradwell B nuclear expansion, a schools expansion scheme, new commercial developments such as the Northern Gateway and significant volumes of residential development will ensure growth in this sector for decades to come.

Ultra Fast Broadband 

Some 300 business in Colchester Town Centre will shortly benefit from the Council’s work with the private sector as one of the leading smaller, independent fibre network operators, County Broadband takes on the management of Colchester’s Town Centre network. 

Capital Investment taking place in the sector

 

  • Refurbishment of The Mercury Theatre started in 2018
  • Curzon Cinema opened in 2018
  • Gigabit Ultafast fibre Broadband installed in the town centre 2017
  • £2.6m new creative business centre in Queen Street opened in 2016 operated by SPACE Studios
  • £4.2m refurbishment and redisplay of Colchester Castle Museum 2014.  Home to a Nationally Designated collection of Roman glass
  • £25m Firstsite visual art gallery opened in 2011
  • New Innovation Centre is opening at the University of Essex in Spring 2019

Advanced Manufacturing

Advanced manufacturing is not a straightforward sector to define as it tends to refer to the “higher end” of the manufacturing sector as a whole. Moving away from volume commodity items that are probably best made in the lower-wage economies and moving towards high-value products using multiple technologies. Specialist products which need consistency and high standards.

This area is often characterised by the intensity of technology used in the manufacturing process or the utilisation of new materials rather than its end products. Furthermore, traditional sector definitions tend to capture “whole company” activity and can omit specific areas of expertise and innovation. Advanced manufacturing might include features such as biotechnology and nanotechnology, the use of advanced materials such as composites, automated processes in production or computer-aided design.

Whatever the precise definition, there is widespread recognition that Advanced Manufacturing is a strength of the UK economy and a crucial area of competitive advantage in the future. According to Government data, the UK is the sixth largest

manufacturer by output and a leading exporter of high technology goods: around a quarter of UK goods exports are defined as high technology.

Compared to Essex, Colchester has a similar percentage share of businesses in the sector but less than half the share of employment of the County. This implies that Colchester’s high value manufacturing is characterised by smaller businesses than those at County level. This is confirmed by BRES data which, due to rounding, shows no large firms (250+ staff) – although there are two – and relatively few medium-sized firms in the Borough.

Over the past 30 years the value of manufacturing output has remained largely the same but the number of people employed has fallen significantly. This is the picture across Essex and this is set to continue. Set against this picture Colchester has been relatively stable in comparison.

Tourism Prospectus

Colchester for Finance and Business Support Services

Colchester’s economy has been highly robust in recent years. Its SME base providing a diverse business base that has provided a degree of protection from the storms of recession. Colchester is a key driver of the Essex economy and with Colchester’s strengths in law and insurance it has long been a key location for financial services in Essex accounting for 11.7% of enterprises in this sector in Essex with 3061 employees across 855 businesses.

The finance and insurance sector is facing a number of serious challenges. Stricter regulations, rising taxes and technological innovations question the traditional business model. At the same time, the wealth shift towards the emerging markets is offering new opportunities.

Companies are capitalising on growth opportunities and launching new revenue-generating initiatives. To succeed, they need the right people in place but top accounting, finance and business systems professionals are hard to find.

However, the Gold rated University of Essex leads nationally on ‘big data’, data and behavioural analytics and computer science. And when combined with the continuing roll out of Ultrafast Gigabit fibre broadband the potential for innovation.

Meanwhile, customers are changing the way they engage with the sector, with large proportions using technology for transactions. Businesses are struggling to keep pace with technology and understand the associated risks and opportunities. In response, they seek individuals proficient in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, integrated financial reporting systems, cloud-computing platforms, and information security and datamining tools, as well as professionals to help with systems conversion projects.

Colchester’s tech strength is emerging, particularly around games development, digital marketing and data analytics. Gaming technology is fast finding new uses particularly for staff training in the workplace. And with the University’s market beating strength in securing Knowledge Transfer

Partnerships with business, it has never been easier to access this cutting-edge knowledge for commercial use.

Colchester faces a projected population growth of 9.4% (from 191,000 currently to an estimated 209,100) by 2026 and an associated house building target of an additional 920 houses a year. These people will need jobs. There are two potential locations for new office development which could help showcase Colchester’s burgeoning growth on the national stage.

The private sector and Government are seeing the opportunity that Colchester offers and are investing millions to capitalise on a wide scope of favourable factors that make Colchester competitive. It has been said that Colchester hides its light well. Though not ideal it does mean that its cost base is competitive and that is good for business.

This prospectus aims to put Colchester firmly on the financial services radar.

Alternative Energy

Advanced manufacturing is not a straightforward sector to define as it tends to refer to the “higher end” of the manufacturing sector as a whole. Moving away from volume commodity items that are probably best made in the lower-wage economies and moving towards high-value products using multiple technologies. Specialist products which need consistency and high standards.

This area is often characterised by the intensity of technology used in the manufacturing process or the utilisation of new materials rather than its end products. Furthermore, traditional sector definitions tend to capture “whole company” activity and can omit specific areas of expertise and innovation. Advanced manufacturing might include features such as biotechnology and nanotechnology, the use of advanced materials such as composites, automated processes in production or computer-aided design.

Whatever the precise definition, there is widespread recognition that Advanced Manufacturing is a strength of the UK economy and a crucial area of competitive advantage in the future. According to Government data, the UK is the sixth largest

manufacturer by output and a leading exporter of high technology goods: around a quarter of UK goods exports are defined as high technology.

Compared to Essex, Colchester has a similar percentage share of businesses in the sector but less than half the share of employment of the County. This implies that Colchester’s high value manufacturing is characterised by smaller businesses than those at County level. This is confirmed by BRES data which, due to rounding, shows no large firms (250+ staff) – although there are two – and relatively few medium-sized firms in the Borough.

Over the past 30 years the value of manufacturing output has remained largely the same but the number of people employed has fallen significantly. This is the picture across Essex and this is set to continue. Set against this picture Colchester has been relatively stable in comparison.

At-A-Glance: Sector Profile

There are few destinations, especially in the East of England Region, which have had such tourism growth over recent years. The investments taking place and the annual tourism statistics demonstrate the ambition and the intention to sustain and grow visitor activity.

  • The value of pure visitor spend in Colchester Borough has risen by 338% from £63.1m in 1993 (base year) to £276.6m in 2017.
  • There was an additional £86.9m generated by tourism in local businesses supplying tourism businesses with goods and services (the multiplier effect).
  • Making a total value of tourism to Colchester Borough in 2017 £366.1m, a 6% rise on 2016.
  • Colchester attracted over 6.4m trips from visitors in 2017 (up 128% on the 1993 figure of 2.8m).
  • Tourism supports 6795 actual jobs (up 153% on the 1993 figure of 2,865) and supports more than 700 businesses locally.

Source: Economic Impact of Tourism, Colchester Borough, 2017 (The Cambridge Model). 

Retail

Retailing is a major employment sector for the Borough, employing 9,056 people – 9.5% of the Borough’s employees – across 800 businesses. The proportions of employees and businesses are relatively higher than the shares for the County, reflecting the significance of Colchester as a key retail destination in both Essex and the Region – where it is within the top five locations.

However, Retail employment has remained almost constant across Essex and this picture can also be seen in Colchester over the period 2010-17. Employment in the sector is typified by part-time.

The EEFM estimates that Retail employment will increase by 700 jobs over the period 2018-24 – further expansion over the addition of 570 jobs in the preceding six years.

Given anticipated growth, Colchester’s retail sector remains a key source of access to employment for new and returning entrants to the labour force and especially for individuals seeking part-time work. The sector is characterised by high staff turnover due to upskilling and movement into other sectors which require good customer skills and sales experience.

However, nationally retail is facing a seismic shift from a number of significant threats which have yet to become clear in their cumulative local impacts. Ever rising demand for online shopping, falling consumer confidence, the cost of business rates on shops and long leases are all issues not faced by online retailers. These structural issues are unlikely to be resolved within the life of the Economic Growth Strategy.

All this is having an impact on town centres nationally. Along with many other towns, Colchester is seeing a significant rise in the number of restaurants, cafes, bars, hair salons and nail bars which collectively demonstrate a trend towards businesses which cannot be replicated online locating in town centres.

The recent Grimsey Review recommends ‘repurposing’ town centres which is something that Colchester might consider along with key stakeholders such as the new Our Colchester BID.

The Area Around Weston Homes Community Stadium 

Opposite the stadium a David Lloyd Leisure Club opened in 2016. There will be a new sports centre including a ‘Cyclogym’, badminton courts and high quality café.

Outdoor facilities will include rugby, archery, a dog training club and two new 3G artificial pitches plus much much more. There are also plans for an IMAX cinema.

It is anticipated that the development will be open from Summer 2019.

Read more in Colchester’s Annual Economic Report 2017/18

Educational Excellence

Colchester has a working age population of 91,800 talented, experienced and educated people.

Locations for Growth

Colchester is one of the fastest growing districts in the country. 

Colchester – Ultra Ready