Reading is a large town located in the Royal County of Berkshire, just 36 miles to the west of London. The town has some of the top performing schools in the country and a world class university which leads the way in climate change study. The town also features excellent shopping and night life, with Michelin star restaurants, hotels, listed buildings and museums.
The River Thames meanders through Reading, creating opportunities for leisurely walks, bike rides and other recreational pursuits. Close to the town are areas of outstanding beauty such as the Chiltern Hills and picturesque towns including Henley and Sonning. The historic city of Oxford is half an hour away by rail.
Despite its close proximity to London, Reading has a thriving economy of its own and many blue chip companies choose to set up home here. The town is seen as an attractive place for businesses to invest and unemployment figures are low. According to a report by Centre for Cities, Reading is in a strong position to weather the worst of the economic downturn and is viewed as one of the most recession resilient towns in the UK. The town was also recently awarded the title of ‘European Micro City of the Future’ in the Financial Times Foreign Direct Investment awards 2012/13.
A key factor in Reading’s success is the high concentration of IT firms, located throughout the Thames Valley, which has led to the area being dubbed the Silicon Valley of Europe. Other businesses which choose to base themselves in the area include Microsoft, Cisco, Symantec,Vodafone, Prudential and BG Group.
Opportunities for small businesses
There are several schemes to help small to medium sized businesses in the local area. The Thames Valley Berkshire Growth Loan Scheme has been set up in order to help develop the next generation of businesses that will contribute to prosperity and job creation. Companies which are successful in obtaining a loan can access a training programme to enhance the skills that may be required to develop their business. There is also a European funded project which provides support for small businesses involved in green initiatives such as supplying energy efficient products or services.
With the recently expanded railway station, Reading has direct routes to almost any location in the UK, including London which is just 30 minutes away by high speed train. The M4 also provides easy road links to London, Heathrow, Wales and the West Country.
Property prices remain buoyant and, unlike other areas in the UK, the town has not seen any major decreases in asking prices in the last few years. In 2013, property prices in the South
East including Reading continue to rise.
Reading remains a desirable location to live and work and could offer great potential for businesses looking for the right location. It has a thriving economy, with excellent schools and transport links and opting for Reading offices is a cost-effective alternative to premises in the capital.
London may be an international business hub but it is also expensive, congested and property prices are sky high. Reading, on the other hand, is within easy commute of London and offers great potential for investment.