Helen White & Richard Higginson: Marketing Stockport
Name: Helen White and Richard Higginson
Company: Marketing Stockport
Tell us about a usual working day?
It usually starts at 7am when we conduct news gathering to find information and stories that our clients will find interesting. These stories can either focus on Stockport businesses and regional developments or national stories that will have an impact locally.
By 9.30am, we are in the office uploading the morning’s news ‘catch’ to our website, including social media updates and more personalised broadcasting to members who are directly affected by certain news stories.
Then the focus is all on engagement activities. We try to take every chance to meet businesses in the Stockport area, including both current and potential clients. We look at how we can promote their business, as well as how they can benefit from our networks, such as facilitating introductions between members that could benefit from knowledge sharing or business between clients.
Can you describe Stockport in 5 words?
How healthy is Stockport as a place for businesses to invest?
It’s rarely been healthier. We’ve both worked in Stockport for many years, across a number of businesses. We’ve known for a long time now that Stockport is a thriving hub for business, both new and old. It is the reason we set up Marketing Stockport. When you talk about Stockport, most people think about the great heritage, from LS Lowry through to the big landscaped parks and much-loved stately homes. Yet few people realise just how much Stockport benefits from its many diverse and successful businesses.
The Santander banking group conducted research into the best towns and cities in the UK – called the UK Town and City Index. Out of all the towns and cities in the UK, Santander ranked Stockport 14th based on enterprise, talent, connectivity, costs and well-being. It was a big surprise to nearly everyone in the south of England, but not to us!
The various Stockport districts are now home to some of the more wealthy and famous. As a result of increases in local spending, education standards have gone up, property is seen as a good investment and the quality of services in Stockport are vey good. The town also neighbours a major international airport and a train station that acts as the gateway to London. Rumour has it that there are more 1st class tickets bought at Stockport station than anywhere else.
How important is regional support for a business?
It is very important, for both connectivity and support. However it is important Stockport businesses see themselves as part of the bigger picture – nationally and internationally. We tell our clients not to think too parochially, but to stand proud, shoulder-to-shoulder with its neighbour Manchester and as a strong contender across the North West
Do any sectors stand out in particular?
Stockport is very diverse and no single sector stands out, although it is notable that there are many companies in Stockport who continue to manufacture and export goods all over the world. This link and passion to retain manufacturing and engineering in the region is entrenched in Stockport heritage and philosophy. We don’t like to give up on quality if we don’t have to.
As well as manufacturing, Stockport can proudly boast a strong presence in its professional services, IT and digital industries
Are there any issues that affect Stockport businesses in particular?
The biggest challenge is peoples’ perceptions, especially people from outside the region, who tend to view Stockport as dated, sleepy and insular. Yet this is far from the truth.
We also think recruitment and retaining skills is a big issue. Stockport lives in the shadow of Manchester, with good transport links to all UK cities, which makes brain drain a sizeable issue. We want to stop the unnecessary loss of talent.
What’s the future for Stockport?
The future is bright. We are very optimistic because we can see that Stockport has a lot to offer and can quickly become a big player in the North West story.
In the next couple of years, we would like to see more privately owned residential properties in the centre of Stockport, consisting of affordable accommodation for young people. The boroughs are all thriving and the last piece of the jigsaw is to create city centre living infrastructure – from apartments through to new restaurants and bars – in the centre of Stockport.