Taking a Tour – Thriving Rother Businesses
Business support organisation Locate East Sussex took a tour around a selection of thriving Rother District businesses with local councillors and officers showcasing the importance of providing support to businesses looking to grow.
Joined by Rother District Council’s Chief Executive Malcolm Johnston, Deputy Chief Executive Lorna Ford, and Economic Development Officer Melanie Powell, along with Bexhill Central Ward Councillor Christine Bayliss, East Sussex County Council’s Economic Projects Manager Vera Gajic and Conservative MP for Battle and Bexhill Huw Merriman, the group visited 4 brilliant Rother based businesses to talk through their progression, their challenges and the impact that the support from Locate East Sussex has had on their businesses.
Locate East Sussex is a business support service and the inward investment agency for East Sussex. It provides 12 hours of free advice, support to access funding and business finance, help finding commercial property and free events and training, and as it is fully funded by East Sussex County Council, the 5 District and Borough Councils, and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), it services are free of charge. Here to support businesses already based in, or looking to relocate to East Sussex, the organisation promotes business growth, stimulating the local economy and creating jobs.
The first stop was to Rye based fish production facility and fish market Chapman’s. Taking us around the facility, Owners Keith and Louise talked us through their challenges with maintaining price competitiveness in the area and how they used their recent funding to expand the facility at Rye Harbour. With relationships with 150 boats, they pride themselves on their sustainable practices and being the only facility in the area to be able to take the whole catch. Looking to expand their operation further, they are keen to make themselves a one stop shop for fish in the area, educating and developing our love for the food right on our doorstep.
The next stop on the tour was Oastbrook Estate Vineyard. Taking a wander around the expansive grounds in Robertsbridge, and their new purpose built event space, Owners Nick and America explained how they are now bottling 35,000 bottles a year, Won a Gold Award for their Chardonnay at the 2021 Independent English Wine Awards, and have solid plans to expand their wine club in the near future. Wanting to help put East Sussex on the map as a wine destination, they are providing an all-encompassing experience offering a bottle shop, vineyard tours, experiences and accommodation.
Visiting family-run Planters, garden centre and farm shop, the group enjoyed a bite to eat in its on-site café. A tasty treat, they were then shown around the recent extension to the Hurst Green based shop, which had been partly funded by the East Sussex Invest loan and grant programme, provided by East Sussex County Council and delivered by Locate East Sussex. The extension has provided owner Ed, the ability to provide a much more expansive range, and to become a regular stop in for those in the local area.
Our last visit of the day was to Kent Street’s Aldershaw Handmade Tiles. Manufacturer of fully handmade clay roof, floor and wall tiles, Aldershaw tiles are most often sought by conservationists, architects and planners working on listed and heritage buildings throughout Britain and can be seen at The Queens House at the Tower of London, and the Real Tennis Court at Hampton Court, also rooves and floors in numerous churches and private estates throughout England. The group were fascinated by the techniques demonstrated, and the passion and commitment by the members of staff there. Owner’s Lindy and Tony, showcased the full process undertaken for each product, and how funding they accessed thanks to Locate East Sussex helped them to invest in their future, updating their machinery to bid for larger orders.