Soft drinks giant Britvic says its heart in now in Hemel Hempstead following an ‘emotional’ move last year from its historic base in Chelmsford.
Sue Skinner, the company’s GB human resources director, admits there was much soul-searching when they decided that the only way was no longer Essex.
“Chelmsford will always be a part of our history and heritage,” said Sue. “It was a big emotional thing for us but we’re now committed to a future in Hemel Hempstead.”
The company signed a 10-year lease at Breakspear Park last year and has options to extend that. Now some 300 people are permanently based near M1 Junction 8 with another 200 making occasional visits.
Breakspear Park was chosen by Britvic’s chiefs as the ideal location for it to be close to London and the Midlands, where much of the company’s operations are.
Being close to airports like Heathrow and Luton was also a big consideration for the company, which is growing internationally and taking the fight to a certain four-lettered red label cola brand.
Being outside London is also being used as a positive recruitment tool by Britvic. “We want to appeal to those people who want to leave the commuting into London and work more locally.”
The company’s recruitment policy is to appoint people who live within 90 minutes’ commuting time.
Britvic encourages its employees to get involved in the local community, giving everyone three days a year for volunteering activites. It has teamed up with children-on-narrowboats charity ReachOut Plus and encourages people to pop down St Albans Hill to use local shops.
Local businesses, too, are encouraged to make contact and bid for available contracts.
And Britvic is busy forming partnerships with other firms based in the imposing Breakspear Park complex.
As far as the general economy goes, the company reported ‘strong’ first quarter figures but was staying tight-lipped about how things are now. Britvic is due to report its interim figures to the City on May 22 and there are restrictions on what announcements can be made but whatever the general conditions, Britvic is proud to call Hemel Hempstead its new home.