News & Events

Home > Invest Here > Locating in Ashford

Business Overview

County Square at NightAshford is a thriving commercial centre in Kent - a vibrant expanding town with a diverse economy reaping the rewards of significant new investment.

Ashford currently provides something for every business in terms of sector placement, supply chain opportunities and a well established community of businesses.

Top companies in Ashford >>>

We have around 5,000 businesses employing over 46,000 people, supported by excellent transport networks and expanding opportunities as part of the town's growth.

Ashford has the capacity to attract a broad range of occupiers with a diverse range of requirements; large, small, town centre, fringe or out-of-town.

Key sector strengths:

  • Transport, Warehousing & Storage – Ashford’s transport hub is a vital asset to the area. With Eurostar and home to Hitachi’s maintenance depot, it is poised to attract further investment and employment.
  • Financial and Business Services - significant expertise across banking, finance and insurance representing around 1,600 companies mainly in business services. This represents a high concentration of relevant skills at competitive costs. Ashford also has a strong mix of publishing, printing and security activites. Headley Brothers has been in Ashford for over 125 years and Q Creative is an expanding design agency. The impact of the high speed trains will enable companies to better serve London as well as continental markets.
  • Construction/Engineering - a core sector that has shown considerable expansion to support the developments of the Channel Tunnel Rail link and creation of new homes.  Leading players are GSE Group and Directline Structure Ltd, which are supported by a network of companies that make up the Ashford Construction Focus Group (
  • Specialist Manufacturing – a signifcant sector with a diverse range of activities. Ashford has been traditionally strong in a number of specialist manufacturing sub-sectors including food processing, electrical goods, and engineering. The area has attracted production of high-value products. Home to Givaudan (formerly Quest International) a world leading company in the fragrance industry and Coty UK Manufacturing, Ashford provides the mix of skills and infrastructure to help these companies to thrive.
  • Retail – investment in the town centre’s retail environment has consolidated this core sector, which has been reinforced by the £65 million extension to County SquareAshford Designer Outlet alone attracts over 3 million visitors per year.
  • Wholesale – Ashford has a competitive advantage with its improved motorway accessibility and high-speed rail links. Brakes has been in Ashford for around 50 years distributing more than 15,000 products to around 150,000 customer outlets.


Headline companies

Coty Rimmel UK Ltd, Brakes, Givaudan (formerly Quest International UK Ltd), Eurostar and Hitachi.

Number of companies

5,000 businesses.

The number of businesses in the Ashford borough grew by 29% between 1998 and 2005, almost double the rate for the South East as a whole (16%). 

Ashford attracted 35 ‘Foreign Direct Investment’ (FDI) companies between 1997 and 2006. 

Nearly a fifth (17%) of the small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the borough felt that their local area had become a better place to do business over the last 12 months, compared with the south east average of 9%.

The number of businesses almost doubled between 1998 and 2005 - a growth rate of 29% in comparison to the whole of the South East (16%).

Key sectors and trends

The strengths of the current Ashford business profile are in the following broad areas: specialist manufacturing, construction, retail, transport and distribution and business services.

Ashford’s (road) transport links provide a competitive advantage in the wholesale and distribution sector, with relative strengths in employment in wholesale (particularly food wholesale), storage and packaging.

Banking, finance and insurance sector (including business services) is the largest broad sector in terms of business establishments.

Business services is a growing sector locally, regionally and nationally and it is an important employment sector within Ashford.

Opportunities for the future will come from the relocation of activities from higher cost locations in London and the south east.

Consumer access to London / Europe

360 million


Site design by Tim Macknelly @ TM Designs