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Gloucestershire Business News

Business West welcomes end of uncertainty for Honda site

Business West today (26th March) welcomed the announcement from Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd that a buyer has been found for its Swindon site.

The purchase from the Panattoni Group and the use of the site for a large-scale logistics operation will be welcome news for the town at a time of significant economic uncertainty, creating new jobs for the town and region.

Business West, which represents over 21,000 businesses in Gloucestershire, Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, understands that the buyers intend to bring the site into operational use on a fast timescale. Jobs will be created during a repurposing period and when the site becomes operational in 2022.

Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, said: "This brings us to the next stage in the formal end of an era for Honda's involvement in Swindon, but opens up a new chapter for the town. The past two years since the first announcement of closure in February 2019 have been a period of considerable uncertainty for both workers and Swindon itself, so this is good news and puts an end to much speculation and concern that the site would lie empty.

"We are very glad that the site will be retained for employment use and it appears that the number of jobs created will be equal or greater than currently employed by Honda. It is also encouraging that the turnaround into its new use will be quick. It will be a boost for economic recovery in the region over the next two years.

"There will be some disappointment that an advanced manufacturer was not secured to take over the site, but the market for logistics is extremely buoyant, and uncertainty in many global manufacturing sectors may have tempered wider interest. Ultimately, a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

"This announcement clearly reflects a broader need for larger strategic employment sites to provide a range of investment opportunities beyond the logistics sector. Our region currently has a dearth of these available and needs to do more in ensuring sites are available within our local planning system to cope with both strong demands for logistics operators alongside more traditional manufacturing employers, if we are to fully capitalise on global investment interest.

"Despite this good news, focus needs to remain to ensure new job opportunities are available for Honda associates and the impacted parts of Honda's supply chain. This announcement means this objective will become much easier. Business West will continue to work to ensure employment remains high in Swindon and surrounding areas."

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