Business News

Development Projects

Designer Outlet confirm construction will begin in January

McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford have confirmed that McLaren Construction has been appointed on the much anticipated 100,000 sq ft. extension to the centre ahead of building works commencing later this month. This will be Ashford Designer Outlet's first extension since opening in 2000. 

Since announcing plans to expand in 2014, the centre’s popularity has continued to soar now welcoming over 3.6 million guests every year, with increasing numbers of London visitors and European and international tourists. Scheduled to open in Autumn 2019, the extension will deliver up to 50 additional premium and luxury brands, a new food piazza, 725 further parking spaces as well as a new events space and redesigned children’s play area. 

Generating over 500 jobs, the expansion will also include a complimentary shuttle bus linking the Ashford Designer Outlet, the town centre and the international train station at peak weekends and during the school holidays. McArthurGlen is also providing funds for the enhancement of pedestrian and cycle routes from the station.

Peter Corr, Centre Manager at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford, said:

“After four years of meticulous planning we’re incredibly excited to confirm that building works on the new extension will commence this January.

“Over the next 18 months we will be investing £90 million into the centre to elevate the whole shopping experience for our guests, while also working hard to ensure our visitor experience remains memorable and enjoyable during this time.

“Once the extension is complete Ashford Designer Outlet will become one of the UK’s flagship fashion, food and homeware destinations, with over 130 stores, restaurants and cafes.“

The expansion will also include the installation of Europe’s largest living wall structure and many of the stores in the new phase will be clad in tens of thousands of plants, all stacked vertically. 

Several new and exciting premium and luxury brands are already signed up to join Ashford Designer Outlet when it opens next year. Peter Corr said: “While it’s too early to reveal any names, we are committed to expanding the extensive range of brands already on offer. 
“In the past three years alone we’ve introduced highly sought-after brands including Calvin Klein, All Saints, Diesel, Cath Kidston, Osprey London, Jack Wills, Timberland and Abercrombie & Fitch.”

The expansion of Ashford Designer Outlet is one of eight major projects highlighted by Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council as key employment and economic drivers in the development of the area. 

Work starts on Ashford International platforms for new international trains

Work has begun to prepare Ashford International’s high-speed platforms for new international trains, including e320 Eurostar trains, which will safeguard direct high-speed international services from Ashford.

Network Rail is already installing new signalling equipment to allow Eurostar’s e320 trains - and potentially any other operator’s next generation high speed trains - to access the station. Now the firm’s engineers are updating the international platforms to match European-width trains.

The work is part of a £10m project being delivered by Network Rail and backed by Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council, with funding coming from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth Fund.

Network Rail’s senior commercial scheme sponsor, Mark Ellerby, said: “When Ashford International was rebuilt in the 1990s, the platforms used by international trains were not built to full European standards, because the Eurostars of that era ran on normal GB tracks.

“The work we are doing with new signalling equipment and the platforms will future-proof the town’s station and preserve its status as part of Europe’s high speed network – one of only four stations in the country to have that honour.

“High speed rail and links to Europe have given Ashford a huge boost over the past 21 years and we are pleased to be working with Eurostar and local authorities to keep that going.”

The first of Eurostar’s new e320 trains is set to call at Ashford from April, using the amended platforms and the signalling system.

Mary Walsh, Director of Communications, Eurostar, said: “The upgrades at Ashford International will allow even more of our customers to benefit from the comfort and style of our e320 trains. With more spacious surroundings, free wi-fi and over 300 hours of entertainment available through the Eurostar app, our e320 trains transform the on board experience.”

Business Support

Romney Marsh Tourism and Investment Scheme

The new Romney Marsh Tourism Investment Support Scheme (TISS) is now open to applications. TISS will offer 0% loans ranging between £15,000-£50,000 for investment in new or improving existing tourism industry products on the Romney Marsh. Examples of such projects could include: hotels; serviced accomodation experiences; destination restaurants; spa and meeting facilities; attractions and activity products; high quality self-catering; camping/glamping and caravan parks.

Applicants must be located or seeking to move to the designated eligible areas within the Ashford and Shepway local authority areas:

  • Ashford: the parishes of Aldington, Appledore, Bilsington, Bonnington, Kenardington, Newenden, Orlestone, Ruckinge, Stone-Cum-Ebony, Warehorne, Wittersham
  • Shepway: the parishes of Brenzett, Brookland, Burmarsh, Dymchurch, Ivychurch, Lydd, Newchurch, New Romney, Old Romney, Snargate, St Mary in the Marsh

This scheme is funded by recycled loan repayments from the former Marsh Business Boost Loan Scheme and partner funding from the Magnox Socio-Economic programme, Kent County Council, Ashford Borough Council and Shepway District Council. More information and application forms can be found on the Kent County Council website. The deadline for applications is midnight 8th February 2018.


Romney Marsh logo

Get to grips with regulation with Better Business for All


Kent & Medway Better Business for All (BBfA) is a partnership between local regulators, including Ashford Borough Council and businesses. By improving the delivery of regulatory services and encouraging more businesses to seek advice, businesses can be supported to succeed and our communities protected.  

BBfA works to help you.They can’t change the law but they can help businesses locally get it right. 

They understand how daunting it is; being faced with lots of rules and regulations. Rather than learning from what can be expensive mistakes, it is better to seek advice to get it right from the start. Whether you are just starting out with an idea or are well established, your local regulators can guide you through what may feel like a complex web of rules.

They provide advice on how the law applies to your business and help you find the most cost effective way for your business to comply.

Your local regulators are at Ashford Borough Council i.e. building control, environmental health, licensing and planning, others are countywide e.g. Kent Fire & Rescue and Trading Standards.

For more details visit


Ashford Business Awards 2017 celebrate great local businesses

Ashford Business Awards

December saw more than 110 business people attend the Ashford Business Awards at Ashford International Hotel. The Awards which celebrate and reward businesses in a number of different award categories are run by Best Business Events with their partners the IoD, fsb and Heart with the support of platinum sponsors Agilis Mobile.

Agilis Mobile Customer Services Director, Tina George, who also sat on the judging panel, commented

“We are proud to support Kent businesses through our platinum sponsorship of the Ashford Business Awards.  As a local business ourselves, we understand how important it is for companies to achieve recognition.  As such, we are delighted to be a part of these awards which encourages businesses of all sizes”

 Ashford Business Awards 2

Congratulations go to the following businesses that won but also to all the shortlisted businesses.

Winner of the Small Business Award, Laura Turner from Noted in Style said of the awards

It was a great opportunity to meet lots of other local businesses and celebrate their success. The atmosphere in the room was warm and supportive and it was a real delight to win the Small Business Award. It was a great boost to our teams’ morale and wonderful recognition of all the hard work they put in. I’d say to any other business thinking of entering to go for it - you have nothing to lose and you never know, you might be wonderfully surprised like us and win.”

 Ashford Business Awards 3

Due to popular demand, next year the Business Awards will be extending their reach to encompass the surrounding areas to allow even more businesses to enter, plus we have added a Business Woman of the Year award. Find out more or enter for free today by going to

For further information contact Carole Black, Best Business events, at

Ashford employers, how are you? Get free workplace health support

One You is inviting all Ashford business to drop into the One You shop in Park Mall to have a tour, get advice on how they can support you and your staff and offer you a free personal NHS mini Health Check.

If you're an owner/manager please drop in anytime (just for 10 minutes) between

10am – 4pm on Monday 29th January 2018

All staff members can then drop in on one of the following dates:

10am – 4pm  - Monday 5th or 12th February 2018

Following these introduction days the One You shop is open Tuesday – Friday 9:30am-5:00pm and Saturday 9:30am-1:00pm and offers the following services for free:

  • Stop smoking support/clinics
  • Healthy weight advice/ Free weekly weight loss programme/Weigh In service plus support
  • On-the-spot blood pressure checks
  • Health Checks & MOTs
  • Advice on a range of lifestyle issues.

They can offer onward referrals into lifestyle services or back to the staff member’s GP, depending on their personal needs. There would be no cost to your organisation or staff members for using the One You shop.

You can find the shop at at Unit 7 Park Mall, Ashford. Please get in touch with the One You shop if you would like further information about any of these services and/or would like to discuss this opportunity further.

One You logo

Maximise your investment at exhibitions

Learn how to reduce the risk of attending exhibitions overseas and maximise your return on investment. 75% of exhibitors believe that they are not exhibiting effectively (AEO Research) - this Department for International Trade masterclass focuses on how to increase sales and leads, network with other companies and avoid pitfalls such as language, transport and stands.

Other topics that will be covered include:

  • The role and benefits of attending overseas exhibitions
  • How to determine whether exhibitions/trade missions are right for your company
  • Network with other companies
  • Create and test a stand pitch

The event takes place 9am-5pm on Tuesday 6 March at Eastwell Manor, Ashford. There is a registration fee of £60.

Eligibility: places are limited to two delegates per company and must have been trading for a minimum of 12 months. You must be looking to increase your overseas market access. Delegates should be exporters or those new to exporting and is not suitable for agencies or intermediaries for example: translation agencies, web developers/agencies, international business development agencies etc.

 For more information and to register visit Eventbrite.


Award season - Chamber Business Awards and KEIBA 2018

Share your successes and get the recognition you deserve!

Visit the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce website and with one application you can enter two prestigious awards. Categories up for contention include Construction Project of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Most Promising New Business and Business of the Year.

Entering these awards offers:

  • The chance to show your clients, customers and competitors how successful you are
  • Raising your business profile
  • Invaluable promotion opportunities
  • Powerful PR and marketing tool
  • Boosting staff morale
  • An engraved glass trophy and framed certificate
  • Winner / Finalist logo for marketing material post event

The closing date for these applications is 26 January 2018, so apply today! If you have any further questions, please call 01233 503838 or email

 Chamber Business Awards

The Wellbeing Symposium is coming to Ashford!

Can pets improve our wellbeing? How can we be happier at work? Is partnership-working the key to healthier communities? These are some of the big questions for 2018 being debated at a leading health and wellbeing event next month.

With speakers including former GB Wheelchair captain and TV presenter Steve Brown together with a packed agenda from leaders in the field, not to mention an opportunity at the 'Wellbeing Question Time' to get your burning questions answered.

Now in its sixth year, The Wellbeing Symposium takes place on Wednesday 21 February at a new venue, the Ashford International Hotel. The event, sponsored by Ashford Borough Council, will showcase One You, an initiative to help those living and working in the county step towards a healthier lifestyle.

Taking place from 8.30am to 3.30pm, The Wellbeing Symposium’s talks, workshops, Q&A session and marketplace zone will equip delegates with practical tools to build a wellbeing strategy.

The event is CPD approved - attending will earn delegates seven CPD points and a certificate to put towards a professional development accreditation.

From digital health tools, stress awareness and employee happiness to practical ways to improve wellbeing in the community, plus tips to adopt healthier, active lifestyle, topics covered on the day can be applied to workplace environment, community and to inform and inspire individual lifestyle changes.

For more information and to book your place visit

Contact Details

Contact the team!

If you would like to get in touch with the council's economic development team then please use their individual contact details on the borough council's website.

Alternatively, email, or for more information on the latest Ashford developments, visit

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