The EDP regional business review 2012: Breckland

The economic future of Breckland is looking bright, according to business analysts at the district council.

With imminent improvements to the A11 and future growth of Thetford, Attleborough and Snetterton Heath the economic landscape is looking promising, a fact evident in figures from Jobcentre Plus that show available vacancies continue to rise.

The district is being seen as a very positive area for businesses to grow and thrive.

The latest claimant count figures show the rate of unemployment in the Breckland Council area has remained fairly constant at just under three percent of the working population (compared to just under four percent nationally), with just the expected slight fluctuation at the beginning of the year when seasonal workers have been laid off after Christmas.

In the new Breckland plan for Dereham, the town has been ear-marked to get 1,800 new jobs over the next decade as well as 600 new homes.

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But, while the housing allocation was being met, there is concern about where the jobs will come from.

A survey has shown that 52pc of the people who live in Dereham work in the town and the jobs market was reliant on retail and services: the biggest employers were now Tesco, Morrisons and Breckland itself.

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Closures in the town have included Chambers newsagents, The George, Bon Marche and Peacocks – but although the fashion retailer went into administration in January the Dereham branch reopened after being bought by Edinburgh Woollen Mill the following month.

A Ponden Home interiors shop has also been opened by EWM in the former Bon Marche shop.

The Lidl supermarket has reopened following an expansion, while a Dominos pizza shop is set to open on the Old Swaffham Road, creating 33 new jobs.

In Watton, Cranswick Country Foods is to apply for a United States Department of Agriculture accreditation, giving it the green light to sell premium Norfolk pork to the US.

The group, which sells bacon and sausages to supermarkets Sainsbury's and Tesco, said the relative price of pork to other meats had helped it to grow its half year underlying turnover 5pc ahead of last year, in the six months to September 30.

It saw total sales 6pc ahead in the same period, helped by the performance of its newly acquired Milton-Keynes-based premium cooked and roast meat producer Kingston Foods.

Other positive steps include a contract to supply signs for the 2012 Olympics being secured by Mervyn Lambert Plant of Garboldisham, delivering live traffic information around the Olympic Park.

Sigma Energy, a company specialising in the production of biomass-based fuels for energy production, set up a new facility in 13,000 sq ft premises on Castleacre Industrial Estate, Swaffham.

Mansell's of Swaffham secured a �2.6m contract with Scira Offshore Energy to help build the base of the Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm, employing an average of 50 people during the contract.

Mark Kiddle-Morris, executive member for assets and strategic development at Breckland Council, said: 'The economic outlook in Breckland is positive and while the economic downturn has had an inevitable effect, businesses in Breckland are continuing to grow and companies from the wider areas are looking to relocate here.

'With the imminent duelling of the A11 and other significant plans for growth, the economic future of Breckland looks bright.'

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