Business Week: Lincoln in “golden era” despite high street woes

Brexit is looming, but so far Lincoln remains confident. Several city businesses say they are experiencing “a golden era” with the area benefiting from investment and economic activity.

Although a recent report from Lincolnshire County Council predicted “catastrophic failures” on the county’s high streets and city centre retailers have reported a 25% drop in takings year on year, other businesses in Lincoln are experiencing rising profits.


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Minster Surfacing is projecting record revenue as a result of being engaged in several major developments and infrastructure projects in the area. MD Bruce Spencer-Knott says the city is making a name for itself as a place to do business: “Whether it’s the county’s roads, the new bus station, bypass or the Cornhill development in the city, there’s been a lot of investment in our area and that’s been great for the construction sector. This year, we’re on track to using a record 70,000 tonnes of asphalt around the county, which goes to show just how just how much is being built and developed.”

“It used to be that when you were pitching for work in London and you said you were based in Lincoln, you’d get a blank stare, but now Lincoln is firmly on the map. This city has a growing reputation for business and innovation which is being recognised not only in this country, but internationally as well. It really is a golden era for us,” he added.

Accountants and business advisers, Duncan & Toplis have been operating in Lincolnshire for the last 93 years. The company, as well as many of its clients are also experiencing an increase in profits. Last year, the company generated an extra £1.32 million turnover.

The economic success isn’t limited to long-established companies. Distract, a digital marketing agency based in Lincoln recently celebrated its third anniversary with revenues for the last year having more than doubled, rising by 113% on top of second year results, which in turn were 289% higher than in year one. They have been taking on new employees in response to more work for a wide range of clients, making it one of the fastest growing agencies in the East Midlands.

Earlier this year, the company’s co-founders, Peter Watson and Bradley McKenny started a sister company, Featured, an investment and growth incubator dubbed as “Lincoln’s Dragons Den”, which invites new entrepreneurs to pitch their tech businesses to secure their investment and business support.

Distract and Featured MD Peter Watson said the Lincoln’s universities have been a major factor in the growth of the city’s creative industries: “Lincoln is a cool place to do business and it’s an excellent springboard from which we’re able to reach the rest of the country. This city has a lot going for it and it’s been very good to us.”

Meanwhile, new businesses are in the process of establishing themselves in the city. Accommodation.co.uk is a proptech startup that provides an automated property management platform for landlords and tenants. Set to launch in 2019, the company aims to streamline the entire lettings and property management process.

Co-Founder Aaron Short said Lincoln has played a key role in helping him start the business: “As a University of Lincoln graduate, this city made the perfect setting for starting up my business because it’s so full of talent. We’ve now got a growing team of designers, developers and user experience specialists and the booming rental market in the city is giving us a great foundation on which we’re hoping to build. Lincoln has a buzzing business scene and there’s a lot of potential here.”

Lincoln also boasts a large number of growing micro-businesses. Two of those are Lincoln-based PR agency Carrington Communications and online retailer Igluu Meal Prep. Both companies are based at the BG Futures business incubator at Bishop Grosseteste University.

Husband and wife duo Dr Wai Ping Liu and Matthew Balf started their company, Igluu which sells sealable meal prep containers as a store on eBay but now they’re selling thousands of containers a year as an independent retailer. Meanwhile, Carrington Communications, which started two years ago has built up a team of three and supports around twenty clients including major regional employers, SMEs, arts events and charities.


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