Wiggle has come an awful long way since it was the humble Butler Cycles operating out of a regular shop space in Eastney, Portsmouth.
Full credit to Mitch Dall and Harvey Jones for seeing the opportunities provided by the internet relatively early on. They took the jump that many of us now look at and say: ‘If only...’
As the company has expanded, it has swallowed up huge amounts of warehouse and office space, moving backwards and forwards around several business parks in the north of the city over the years.
It has moved into international markets with great gusto – its website offers eight alternative languages, including French, German, Japanese and Russian.
And it has clearly proved an attractive proposition to investors, as its purchase for £180m by Bridgepoint Private Equity in 2011 proved.
It is a business that is often cited as a homegrown success story.
So it is a huge shame that the company has now confirmed it is to move its warehouses out of the city. Wiggle is moving distribution centres from North Harbour to Wolverhampton in the middle of next year.
As a result, more than 100 staff have been asked to move to the Midlands or face redundancy.
Yes, many of the company’s staff will remain in the city, working in other departments.
But the fact remains that a business that was created and nurtured here in Portsmouth has decided that the city no longer meets its needs.
We need to look at why the region was unable to satisfy those needs. Space on Portsea island is obviously at a premium, but it does strike many as surprising that nowhere could be found within the region to accommodate Wiggle.
Push, the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire, represents 12 local authorities and aims to draw business to the region – was it really unable to find a site large enough for one of our business successes?
Many of Wiggle’s staff will remain here, but the loss of those distribution centres is still a blow.
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