Luton has a proud history of hat-making and car manufacture and hosts Europe’s largest one-day carnival.
And it’s also the hometown of legendary cricketer Monty Panesar and 80s pop star Paul Young.
It’s never threatened nearby London as a business hub or international tourist location — but the Bedfordshire town’s star is on the rise thanks to sporting and commercial success stories.
So if you’re looking for a prime location for a new business venture, here are five reasons Luton’s becoming a beacon for small businesses.
1. Commuter champion
Luton’s been named the top hotspot for London commuters in a survey by property agency Jackson-Stops, beating off competition from rivals like Weybridge, Dorking, Slough, and Woking.
The town was the top performer for a combination of criteria like the length of commute time and cost, average house price, and parking costs.
As some London residents are priced out of the market, they’re looking to migrate to Luton to get more for their money within striking distance of work.
Business suggestions: busy commuters need to eat — investing in a Luton restaurant franchise could let you cash-in on an excellent opportunity.
2. League One legends
In a thrilling end to the season, Luton Town FC drew 1-1 with Carlisle United to gain a lucrative promotion to League One — just one rung below the financial jackpot of the Premiership.
So supporters from teams like Portsmouth, Blackpool and Bradford City visiting next season will inject a significant amount of cash into the local economy.
And entrepreneurs in the area will be looking to capitalise on the opportunity this brings.
Business suggestions: opening a new city center bar that quenches the thirst of football fans should set you up for success.
3. Airport boom
Luton is Britain’s fifth-busiest airport and Australian investor AMP Capital has reportedly paid £350 million for a 49 percent stake in the business.
Annual passenger numbers have increased from 9.5million to 16.5 million in the past five years, with 3000 new jobs created between the facility and support businesses.
If growth remains steady, the airport’s profits will continue to rise at a significant rate.
Business suggestion: piggyback on the hub’s projected long-term success by securing a Luton Airport parking facility or starting a shuttle-bus business carrying travelers from town straight to their departure terminal.
4. Car manufacturer
Vauxhall cars have had a close association with Luton since 1905 when the first car rolled off the production line.
And the firm’s been so crucial to employment that it was said ‘when Vauxhall sneezes, Luton catches the cold’.
Peaks and troughs have followed in the intervening years, but workers at Vauxhalls Luton plant were recently given an unexpected boost when French parent company PSA, which also owns Peugeot and Citroen, announced a £100 million investment that will raise production capacity to 100,000 vehicles a year.
Business suggestion: with Vauxhall workers’ futures secure for the foreseeable future, they might spend disposable cash more readily — buying a mobile street food van and pitching it close to the plant to catch lunchtime trade might prove profitable.
5. Warehouse jobs
Supermarket Lidl has announced plans to open an enormous warehouse in Luton that will lead to 1000 new jobs.
The one million square foot property will be double the size of any of the businesses other British storage facilities and will manage the distribution of food and non-food items around the M25.
The extra capacity is required to support five new London stores which the firm plans to open soon and is part of a UK-wide £1.45 billion pounds investment.
Business suggestion: Lidl likes to work sustainably, so there’s an opportunity for local firms supplying services as well as goods — starting a haulage firm for the Luton hub or supplying storage and PPE equipment could lead to a long-term partnership.
So there are five reasons Luton might be the startup hotspot you’ve been searching for — perhaps your new business can grow alongside these success stories.