For a small town in rural mid Wales, Newtown can boast of having been home to a surprising number of globally successful companies since the 1800s. From Pryce Jones to Laura Ashley global brands have been based and become associated with the town. One which relocated to Newtown in the 1970s and still a major employer in the town is Control Techniques, a globally leading manufacturer of variable speed drives and power conversion technologies for use in a range of industrial applications including manufacturing automation. They employ around 650 staff in the town.
A Manufacturing Town
Many manufacturers relocated to Newtown in the 1970s. They made everything - from aircraft equipment to golf clubs to chocolates to furniture to injection moulding to high technology engineering products to textiles (notably, but not only, Laura Ashley). By 1988, when the DBRW managed development of Newtown came to an end, nearly half the factory space in mid Wales was located in Newtown, providing around 2,000 jobs.
Nearly 50% of companies taking up space in the industrial estates were classified as “in region” tenants, i.e. either new or existing businesses from within the local area. Over 22% came from the south east of England, and nearly 20% from the Midlands. A smaller number came from established businesses in Germany, Holland and Ireland.
Although manufacturing is now a less significant employer than in the past 40% of people in work in Newtown are employed in either manufacturing or the wholesale and retail trade (nationally the figure is 26%) and a much lower than national average proportion of people employed in service or public sector jobs.
The GLOBAL-RURAL project has been researching business in the town over the last year. Some of their findings can be read here.