The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has heralded an investment in Coventry as one of the “success stories of the region”.
Street made the comments after being given a guided tour of a new warehouse and office complex opened in the city by online flooring retailer UK Flooring Direct.
The firm, which now employs more than 160 staff, was started 15 years ago by Nuneaton entrepreneur Jason Ashby, who invested £299 in a website.
Now the company, which has a 57,000 sq ft headquarters in Hinckley, has opened a new 54,000 sq ft unit on Prologis Park and has £50 million worth of annual sales in its sights.
Street, a former managing director of John Lewis, said the company’s growth – which has all been self-funded – opened up employment possibilities for local people.
He said: “I was very impressed with what I saw. The company has been on a growth journey for several years and has grown its workforce in line with its expansion and that looks set to continue.
“The fact it has opened its new base in Coventry means that there are opportunities available for local people at a time when the job market is not in a good state.
“The company is a great example of how investing in both technology and in people is key in taking a business to another level.
“Jason and his senior management team have a growth strategy and their new operation in Coventry is going to be core to that success. It is always uplifting to see an entrepreneur create a business and guide it through to being a major employer and wealth creator.”
Around 70 of UK Flooring Direct’s workforce will be based at the new Prologis Park complex in a range of departments including sales, customer service, distribution, finance, IT and warehouse, while new jobs will be created by the move.
CEO Jason Ashby said: “We were very pleased to welcome Andy and to show him our operation – both as Mayor and as a retailer of national renown.
“Clearly he was interested in the level of investment and employment prospects for local people – but his retail instincts and interests were also clear.
“He obviously led John Lewis through massive growth and established it as one of the most respected brands so we were very interested in his take on our business.
“This is a significant move for us at what is a very exciting stage of the company’s growth.”