Swainsthorpe Development – 2021 update
In 2013 we started to see significant growth in our business and the machines we were selling were getting a lot bigger. In 2014 we realised that we could no longer continue to trade efficiently and safely from our current headquarters in Norwich.
Since 1931 when Ben Burgess started the company to serve the farmers of South Norfolk, we have grown into 8 sites serving Agricultural and Horticultural customers over several counties. We feel that a large part of our success is being close to our customers. Our Aylsham & Beeston depots were located deliberately to offer support to our farming customers across Broadland, Mid & North Norfolk, and Breckland, leaving our headquarters in Norwich to support South Norfolk & parts of North Suffolk. In May 2014 we met with South Norfolk District Council (SNDC) to try to work together in finding us a new location within South Norfolk that could not only house our Head Office functions, but also an agricultural depot serving South Norfolk, looking after our Agricultural, Construction, Groundscare, Crop Storage and Sheet metalwork customers. We understood the challenges that we would face with the scale of site required and the importance of location that was required to be able to continue serving our customers in South Norfolk whilst not affecting our already well-established Depots covering the rest of Norfolk. We did not image we would still be having the same conversations and receiving the same promises with South Norfolk Council 7 years later.
We initially put forward 8 sites to SNDC which for various reasons were deemed unsuitable.
In 2016 we presented our Swainsthorpe site to SNDC, which they for the first time offered us encouragement. After 2 years of preparation, we presented our full proposal to SNDC in November 2018. It has taken 3 years after the initial encouragement and a huge amount of hard work and energy on our side, for them to inform us that the site is not suitable.
So, what is next – We will continue in our search for a location in South Norfolk to house our Head Office function that can, with safe and modern facilities, serve and train our 267 employees along with being able to offering excellent support and training to our Agricultural and Horticultural customers.
The challenges we face at our existing site, in the 8 years that have passed, have grown significantly. We have added to our team in the last 12 Covid restricted months, 24 additional staff including 9 apprentices. The size and the number of machines we supply continues to grow. Our need to relocate is greater than ever and if we cannot deliver a solution for our brilliant staff and customers soon, we may have to give up on our aspiration of finding a single location to build a “Centre of excellence” that Norfolk Agriculture can be proud of.