Race is on for a job in Bognor Regis

Up to 350 people have applied for each vacancy at a booming Bognor Regis company.

Fast-expanding Universal Race Technology has been inundated with job-seekers as it prepares to move.

The biggest response from those desperate for work was to become a receptionist in its new 45,000sq ft premises. But even specialised jobs such as laminators have attracted 300 replies for each position advertised in the Observer and on the company’s website.

The situation reflects the Arun district’s unwanted status of having the highest rate of unemployment in West Sussex.

URT is bucking the trend by growing from 55 employees to 90 by July. More are expected to follow up to 120 with a further 35,000sq ft of vacant space occupied.

The expansion is enabling URT – which supplies Formula 1 cars and the defence industry – move into the landmark Heath Place building on Ash Grove. Parts of it have stood empty for six-and-a-half years.

URT commercial and business manager Darren Weston said: “It feels exciting to be moving in, partly because we are moving into such an important building in the town and partly because we have got the long-term security and commercial contracts to support the people we recruit.”

Matthew Cox, the company’s joint founder, said: “It’s important to keep industry in Bognor. So many companies are going out of business or relocating to smaller premises.”

Fellow founder Paul Walters said: “A few years ago, we realised the sponsorship in Formula 1 was being cut in a sign of the recession and so we decided to look for new markets. We started diversifying and that has paid dividends.”

This success will enable URT to take over the entire ground floor of Heath Place on Ash Grove in mid-April as well as keep its current 18,000sq ft premises on the nearby Southern Cross Industrial Estate.

The expansion will see an investment of more than £500,000, though Mr Walters and Mr Cox declined to reveal the exact figure.

They formed the business 11 years ago after working together and soon outgrew their original premises on the Southern Cross Industrial Estate and are now bursting out of several units.

The growth has seen the company expand into a group structure with three subsidiaries.

Current annual turnover is expected to reach £6.5m by the end of June and soar to £10m a year later. Last year’s was a depressed £2.5m in comparison.

URT makes composite parts for Formula 1 racing cars among others and defence vehicles.

Composite materials are a new product and are lightweight structures of fabric and resin.