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BIS Minister Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, Phil Young, director of investment at Forward Swindon, David Renard, leader of Swindon Borough Council, and Justin Tomlinson MP at Forward Swindon’s offices

Business minister visits Swindon

Michael Fallon, UK Minister for Business and Energy visited the new Oak Furniture Land UK headquarters and state-of-the-art distribution centre in South Marston, Swindon last week.

His visit on Thursday was billed as recognition of the company’s significant contribution to business in Swindon and the South West, and as a large local employer.

The Minister took the opportunity to discuss the company’s retail success story, expansion plans and current business issues with managing director and owner Jason Bannister.

Rapid expansion has meant an increase in the number of employees at the UK headquarters by over 100 from 134 to 240 in the previous year alone, and there are plans to create 500 new jobs across the business in the next three years.

“The Government is doing all it can to get the economy moving forward, so that companies like Oak Furniture Land can get on with the business of expanding and creating  jobs,” said Mr Fallon.

“We’re getting the nation’s finances in order, investing in world-class training, and clearing away the pointless red tape that holds back enterprise. 

“We’ve already cut costs on business by more than £1bn, and I’ll be going further and faster to get regulations from the EU and Whitehall off the back of hard-pressed firms.”

Oak Furniture Land – which began on eBay before becoming the site’s largest retailer in 2006 – now has 42 stores in retail parks across the UK and plans to launch a new store every month for the next three years, including three in the South West in the next 12 months. 

To meet customer demand, the brand new 300,000 square feet state-of-the-art distribution centre, equal in size to four football pitches, accommodates 23,000 cubic metres of stock on average. 

On a daily basis, the centre will have approximately 1,700 cubic metres of stock coming in and 1,200 cubic metres going out of the facility and distributed across the UK to fulfil customer orders across all 42 stores.

Oak Furniture Land chose Swindon as its headquarters back in April 2011, because of its central location with good transport links via the M4 corridor and its thriving business community with other major businesses in the area.  At the time the company had just 80 staff located there.

The company now employs 650 staff across theUKand in January of this year announced record sales of £85m, more than doubling its performance on the previous year.  It reported a 140% increase in turnover (up from £34.1m) and a pre-tax profit up from £3.9m to £9.2m.

Mr Fallon began his visit to Swindon at the offices of Forward Swindon, where he was briefed on a conference regarding the economic development area along the A420, on the outskirts of Swindon.