Our Stourbridge print area covers the towns of Kingswinford, Brierley Hill, Lye and Wollaston. Each of these towns has the usual mix of small retail shops, industrial estates and offices.
Stourbridge has been home to the world’s finest glass designers and makers since the seventeenth century and the Red Cone illustration has become a symbol of this area’s strong tradition – even today.
The Bonded Warehouse and Stourbridge Wharf are the remains of the town’s thriving 18th and 19th century iron industry.
This decline in manufacturing, engineering and business generally offers limited local scope for Stourbridge printing.
These industrial areas are now earmarked to be generally for housing and leisure in the vision outlined in the local area plan.
There is little mention of business regeneration.
There is a feeling that this we are not within the most dynamic local council in helping small and medium sized business.
Even in comparison with some of the other West Midlands authorities it seems business is fairly low down on the list of priorities.
There are some financial incentives to invest or relocate but not much for those of us who are already based in the area.
The future of Stourbridge print is largely dependent upon these new plans to try and make Stourbridge part of this proposed Midlands economic “powerhouse”.
Stourbridge is perhaps the most thriving area within the Dudley borough and this is one reason why it may have been neglected.
For the small business and start-up business much needs to be done by the local authority.
Things may change with the new regional regeneration scheme.
The details of the scheme should be ratified by Parliament by next April and we are investigating the impact it will have on Stourbridge print businesses.
The Black Country LEP is looking to invest heavily in infrastructure and training.
In addition, Dudley and Stourbridge aim to build on food and drink, transport technologies, environmental technologies and business services.
Stourbridge in particular is seeking to promote creative industries and those employment activities which are locally distinctive and associated with high tech and green technologies
This is great in theory but not much is happening in practice.
The problems in the steel industry will continue be felt hard in the Stourbridge print area and the vast number of small manufacturing and engineering businesses.
One of the main priorities is making the Waterfront office complex at Merry Hill an attractive area for business once again.
This was the base for many call centres for the Child Support Agency and many companies like Lloyds Bank, the Inland Revenue, Virgin Media and the now defunct financial services company, Egg.
Many of these offices are now empty and as a result, the bars and cafes that once made such a nice business environment have also closed.
Many of our Stourbridge print customers have also closed or moved away due to the lack of suitable premises.
The area also has strong links to the automotive trades and there has been steady growth in this market that will spin-off to our local Stourbridge print customers that supply the motor trade.
The Pensnett Industrial Estate borders Stourbridge and Dudley. It is one of the largest trading estates in the UK where we have many customers. It does seem to be new companies moving in regularly.
The town centre itself has been enhanced by the Tesco development but as a retail centre it has declined in terms of quality over the years.
Most people would agree that the ring road it lends itself to having a pedestrianized centre.
The new £7m Bus Station facility has provided a modern bus based interchange for Stourbridge town centre with improved facilities and passenger information.
One of our Stourbridge print customers designed the short train link between the centre of the town and the train station. This is a good example of local ingenuity and engineering excellence.
HS2 will not have a direct effect on the Stourbridge print market. The route is likely to favour the area to the east of the conurbation rather than the west.
There are a few glimmers of hope. Poundland has been a great High Street success in the UK and the son of the founder has launched an online version in Brierley Hill.
With our own low overheads we are able to compete with companies based in more expensive towns and cities through online printing. One of our typical print customers in the south-east of England can order at 3pm and get delivery at 9am the following day.
Locally there appears a general lethargy in the business community.
Generally, commercial, industrial and office space is often of poor quality. As a result, the area offers only a limited opportunity for new businesses and our Stourbridge print customers.
For more details see our Stourbridge printing page or call free on 0800 0345 845 or 01384 376640.