Key business hubs
Behind only the West End, Canary Wharf and the City of London, Croydon has the fourth largest stock of office space in London. This amounts to some 749,000 square metres of office space, which is not only the largest stock across South London, but also larger than a number of other major business centres across the Southeast of England, including Reading, Milton Keynes and Brighton and Hove.
This stock is set for further growth in the years ahead following the town's designation as an Opportunity Area under the Mayor’s London Plan, as well as already planned major development projects such as the Croydon Gateway
This office space is largely spread across two major commercial hubs: the town centre and Purley Way. The town centre is Croydon’s largest employment location and is home to a significant number of major businesses, including Allianz and the Home Office’s UK Visas and Immigration division.
Purley Way is a major out-of-town commercial centre that houses a selection of residential, retail and light industrial development. Although the site now attracts shoppers from across South London following significant growth in its retail and leisure offering, in commercial make up the site is complementary rather than competitive with the town centre. This range of specialisations across the borough’s two key employment hubs provides a positive stabilisation effect that insulates Croydon’s economy from economic shocks.
With 12,000 businesses located in the borough, Croydon already boasts established clusters in a number of key sectors.
The insurance and financial services industry has a strong presence in the borough through 130 businesses including Goldman Sachs, Zurich, American Express, AIG and HSBC. With over 4,000 workers, this makes Croydon the fifth largest financial services cluster in London.
Another important commercial sector is engineering, construction and technical services, with over 250 firms operating out of the borough, including Mitsubishi Electric, Atkins, Carillon and AECOM.
Also notable is the borough’s position at the heart of the global logistics industry. Croydon now boasts 7.9 million square feet of industrial space, with 1.6 million of this classified as high-tech space.
The town is also growing as a centre for the retail and hospitality industries, with some 550,000 square metres of commercial space. Croydon also represents one of London’s largest commercial locations – 28 of the UK’s 30 largest retail operators now trade out of this growing town centre. Meanwhile, the town also boasts over 1,000 hotel beds, with more in the pipeline.
This is perhaps unsurprising given Croydon’s status as London’s largest town centre outside of the centre of the city.
Emerging tech hub
Now being touted by many as London’s latest Silicon Valley counterpart, Croydon is home to more than 1,000 start-ups and has become recognised as London’s fastest-growing tech ecosystem. The 185 of these digital, creative and software businesses are located in the heart of Croydon town and employ over 1,350 workers.
This burgeoning status as a centre for digital innovation has inspired further development, with the borough recording a surge in growth in this area. There was a 38% rise in tech, digital and creative start-up activity in Croydon between 2011 and 2013 according to the Office for National Statistics Business Register.
Local government is nurturing this growth, with new technology businesses offered rent-free office space for their first year in the Croydon area. Croydon Council has also announced the creation of a new tech business incubator and start-up space, which will begin supporting the local technology community in early 2016.
With all this commercial opportunity in the district, it’s also no surprise that 81% of the Croydon population is in or is actively seeking employment, a figure 5.2% above the London average. There are 141,000 jobs in the borough, while some 1.1 million economically active people live within 30 minutes of East Croydon station.
Croydon has also developed into something of a centre for self-employment, with more than 25,000 Croydon residents registered as self-employed in 2013. This represents 11.1% of Croydon’s working age population and points to the high level of innovation and entrepreneurship that has been nurtured in this part of London.