Firm says ‘glad we came here!’

Mark Berry (front left) with Alan Clare (front right) and behind David Southam ,Yvonne Aspinall (from Wigan Investment Centre) and Darren Harrison (back)
Mark Berry (front left) with Alan Clare (front right) and behind David Southam ,Yvonne Aspinall (from Wigan Investment Centre) and Darren Harrison (back)

A “WISH You Were Here” postcard led a top IT company to re-locate to state-of-the-art offices in Wigan town centre.

The message was sent by the marketing team of the Wigan Investment Centre as part of a marketing drive in the build-up to a business exhibition for North West companies.

And by an amazing coincidence it dropped through the letter box of specialist IT services and solutions company Willow Starcom, which has been in business for more than 20 years, most recently based near Coppull, and whose bosses were looking for new centralised premises.

MD Mark Berry said: “Under normal circumstances it probably would have just ended up in the bin but it caught my eye and amazingly we were actually looking for offices where we could expand and grow and it seemed to offer exactly what we were looking for.”

A few months later the firm, which has a turnover of almost £3m a year, was welcomed to the Investment Centre in Waterside Drive, Wigan by Alan Clare property manager of the owners, the Wigan Metropolitan Development Company and Douglas Valley Properties.

Willow Starcom has moved into a second floor suite where it has more than 20 members of staff with more to come. Mr Clare said: “We are delighted to have Willow Starcom join us in the Investment Centre. They are a big name. After that initial postcard we sat down with them and came up with a tailor-made package with inclusive operational costs to make the move here as attractive and effortless as possible.”

Willow Starcom looks after every aspect of IT for thousands of businesses including online data back-up, delivery on site, by remote or cloud-based solutions which includes hosted infrastructure applications as companies look to deliver even more business efficiencies.

Company chairman is London-based Michael Jackson and is the man who took the Sage Group PLC from a market capitalisation of less than £5m to its current valuation of more than £3bn.

Willow Starcom has already moved staff to the Investment Centre and plans to recruit more staff shortly.

“Wigan is perfect for us”, said Mr Berry’s business partner and technical director Darren Harrison, who is Wigan born and bred. “It is like coming home.”

Willow has become a real IT business success story although Mr Berry initially trained as an engineer with British Aerospace, Bolton and Mr Harrison always wanted to be a policeman!

The company provide 24-hour cover, back-up and support services for many important clients across the UK including the Met Police, although the bulk of customers are in the North West heartland.

Mr Berry said: “We are delighted to be making Wigan our new home. All our North West based staff live within about a half hour’s drive and we have acres of car park space when we get to the Investment Centre.

“It’s absolutely brilliant and all the onsite facilities, including a bistro, 24-hour security and meeting and training rooms, are really appreciated by our staff.

“It is a really busy business hub with Liverpool and Manchester literally just up the road, and London two hours away by train.”