West Sussex; an historic county that was formerly a medieval kingdom. Home to the South Downs National Park, fairy tale castles such as Arundel and dramatic coastlines with family favourites like Camber Sands.
With a population of 864,000 people (ONS population estimate for 2019), we find most of West Sussex’s people situated around the coastal towns of Worthing, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton or inland around the commercial New Town of Crawley. With the exception of Brighton on the border of East and West Sussex, Crawley is the leading commercial centre of the county and is projected to grow a further 23% by 2039.
Home to Gatwick Airport, one of the busiest airports in Europe, it provides excellent international connections and is a strong source of employment for the local population.
The West Sussex Economy
West Sussex is a diverse economy that performs strongly at a national UK level. However, performance is highly variable within the county with much of the economic activity focused around Crawley and Gatwick.
It is a thriving county in economic terms – at 84.4%, the economic activity rate is higher than both the UK and the South East as a whole. Latest GVA figures for West Sussex are £22bn – the majority share comes from the North East area of West Sussex, focused around Crawley and Gatwick Airport. Crawley is the town with the largest GVA with £4.6bn.
Unsurprisingly, distribution, transport, accommodation and food make up the largest of the sectors with 22.8% of the county’s GVA, with the Real Estate activities (15.1%) and Production (13.7%) of the private sectors coming in second and third. Yet, the fastest growth 2004-2014 seen in West Sussex was the financial services sector with nearly 120% growth in the 10-year period.
There is a total of 42,000 businesses in West Sussex. Crawley has the largest proportion of large businesses (employing more than 250 people) in the county (accounting for a third of the total), and in fact has the largest concentration of businesses employing over 100 people in England.
The south west region of the county is home to a range of higher value employment opportunities (including professional and business services, particularly in Chichester and Worthing, and specialist advanced manufacturers), and there are signs of sector growth, for example in creative and digital.
Notable companies based in West Sussex include aviation related Air Partner, British Airways, EasyJet, Thales, Virgin Atlantic, and Gatwick Airport Ltd. Unsurprisingly we also see a lot of travel and leisure companies including First Choice, Virgin Holidays, and TUI Travel. We also see a strong FMCG showing led by Nestle’s headquarters.
Marketing opportunities in West Sussex are quite evenly split across B2B and B2C thanks to the aviation, travel, and professional services sectors. A strong demand for campaign and digital marketing skills are required across the board for businesses looking to expand and grow