Altrincham is fast becoming a town known for its SME start-ups, tech hubs and digital businesses, as companies branch out from Manchester’s city centre.
Located in the southern suburbs of Greater Manchester, set amid greenery close to the Mersey River, was once a quaint market town named Altrincham. In the 13th century, remote farmers would flock to the town to trade their agriculture, while local businesses regularly assembled to sell their daily produce.
Today, of course, the town of Altrincham is much different to what it was in previous centuries. In the past few years specifically, the northern town has gone from strength-to-strength as many of Manchester’s budding start-ups have decided to set up shop in the area. With cheaper rents, brilliant office space and good transport links, it’s easy to see why.
As more and more SMEs set up in Altrincham, the town has started to see an emergence of tech hubs, coworking spaces and a swell in visitors. According to Altrincham Unlimited, in the first three months of 2017, visitor numbers to the town centre were up by 8.2 per cent when compared to 2016.
Businesses in Altrincham are booming, with local high street companies being the starting point of this. While Altrincham has seen visitor numbers increase this year, high streets in general across the UK have seen an average fall of 0.3 per cent in quarter one of this year, claims Altrincham Unlimited.
In addition to this, the vacancy rate in Altrincham has dipped below ten per cent for the first time in a decade, with the proportion of empty office space down from 14.4 per cent in March 2016.
Katie Bland, BID manager for Altrincham Unlimited commented: "To see the vacancy rate falling below ten per cent is a real milestone for Altrincham, and comes on the back of some high quality new openings in both the retail and food and drink sectors.
“Altrincham is thriving; this is the result of focused effort and hard work by numerous stakeholders over the past six years to improve the town. We’ll be working hard this year to maintain the upward trend in footfall and to continue to encourage investment in Altrincham.”
While there are signs of national and international companies and chains residing in the town, many of the businesses are local and owned by Manchester-born residents. By supporting local businesses, Altrincham is able to retain much of the funds being ploughed into the community.
Not only is buying locally and using local services more convenient, but often means a better service while helping a community become a better place to live. This is on top of the health benefits and access to unique products that aren’t usually found in chain locations.
A sense of local pride has transpired from the great businesses Altrincham is home to, creating a buzz in the town that is attracting many. Arts and culture in the Greater Manchester town is also growing with modern art gallery ‘The Contemporary’ recently opened in a vacant unit on Stamford New Road, and is set to hold work from world-renowned artist Damien Hirst, later this year.
Suburban SME havens
For small businesses and start-ups, Altrincham and other suburbs surrounding Manchester means cheaper rent in great locations while their company finds its feet. Coworking spaces in particular are popular among start-ups as they encourage collaboration, as well as usually offering a pay-as-you-go services for companies that need to watch their finances.