High profile sports company move from Midhurst ‘sets off alarm bells’

Gordon McAra
Gordon McAra
  • High profile sportswear company O’Neills is looking to move out of Midhurst
  • They say they cannot find a big enough site in the town
  • Town councillors want to look at ways of helping industry expand

THE possible loss of a high profile commercial name from Midhurst has prompted a call for more help for industrial development in the town.

Chairman of the town council’s planning committee Gordon McAra said O’Neills, the international leading edge manufacturer and distributor of sports wear, was looking to move its warehousing units from Holmbush.

He stressed the importance of keeping such high profile names along with the jobs they offered.

And now town councillors are to debate how more facilities can be offered and existing facilities improved, modernised and expanded.

“We spend time talking to traders, but we don’t talk to industry,” said Mr McAra, “we need to look at how to improve our offering to industrial developers - industry is as important is retail.”

He said Chichester District Council had debated an application from O’Neills to move to former marine warehouses in Itchenor.

“They are looking to expand and move and 27 jobs are involved,” he told councillors.

“Although the application was refused it does set alarm bells ringing that Midhurst can’t afford to lose jobs, particularly of this industrial warehouse nature.”

He said O’Neills had seven units at Holmbush from where goods were distributed throughout the UK and Europe.

“They have been looking around for more accommodation, but have not been able to find it in Midhurst.

“Even if they could expand here there is a concern that the South Downs National Park authority would not be keen on large industrial units inside its boundaries.

“The long and short of it is that they are still looking for warehouses and a distribution centre and this good high profile company could be moving south out of Midhurst.”

He said it was important to try and help O’Neills stay in the town by talking to the national park and Chichester District Council.

He also wanted to look at ways of expanding industrial development facilities for other companies.

Fellow councillor the Rev David Coote said the case highlighted the need to carry out the council’s masterplan for development at the old brick works which included industrial development.

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