Chester, Wrexham and the Deeside area are not only separate settlements but also straddle the border of England and Wales. However, they form a closely connected and integrated economic area with a population exceeding 270,000 – there have been past proposals to establish them as a single city region – so in this report we will look at the market here and future prospects for it.
Background and economy
The Chester area has a population around 118,000 and forecasts suggest it will grow by 10% by 2035. The Wrexham area has a population around 100,000 and forecasts also suggest 10% growth by 2039, making it the fastest growing location in Wales after Cardiff (26% growth).
Chester’s main employers include tourism (Roman Chester dates back to AD70), retail and public administration together with a significant bio technology and financial cluster with companies here including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, M&S Bank, MBNA, Virgin Money and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Wrexham has an industrial past but now has a number of more modern industries including high-tech. manufacturing, bio technology and financial and professional services. Companies located here include Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, Wockhardt, Magellan Aerospace as well as Kellogg’s who employ 400. Fast-expanding telephone services company Moneypenny recently invested £15m in a new headquarters here.
Further out the wider Deeside area, around Connah’s Quay, Shotton and Queensferry, is a one-time heavy industrial area. British Steel’s operation here once employed around 13,000 people and some heavy manufacturing still exists here, including a smaller Tata Steel operation. It is also a centre for advanced manufacturing, business and logistics/distribution parks including the headquarters of the expanding Iceland Foods operation. Deeside Industrial Park alone provides around 9,000 jobs including 500 at an advanced Toyota Engine Plant.
Significant regional employers, both of which have the potential to be impacted by Brexit, are Airbus at Broughton (6,000 employees) and the PSA-owned Vauxhall Motors at Ellesmere Port.