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Brompton Bicycle to leave Brentford after nearly 30 years

Folding bike manufacturer is understood to be moving production to Greenford

Brompton Bicycle's factory in Brentford

Brentford's most famous export is planning to get on its bike and leave the town.

Brompton Bicycle, manufacturer of the iconic folding bikes, confirmed rumours it is looking to move production from the town where it has been based for nearly 30 years.

On Friday (July 10), a spokeswoman for the award-winning firm told getwestlondon a move was planned but the deal had yet to be signed so she could not reveal the intended location at this stage.

However, it is understood the company's new headquarters will be in Greenford, a short pedal from its current premises.

Hounslow Council said it had been in discussions with Brompton for some time to help it find bigger premises, but described the company's requirements as "quite specialist".

The business takes its name from the Brompton Oratory in South Kensington, onto which Andrew Ritchie's flat looked when he began work on the revolutionary design in 1975.

Contestants in the 9th Brompton World Championship (Photo by Anna Batchelor)

Full-time production of the bikes began in railway arches in Bollo Lane, Brentford, in 1988. As demand grew it expanded to the 22,000sq-ft factory in nearby Lionel Road South, near Kew Bridge station, which it occupies to this day.

However, its success means it has outgrown even that space and it is understood it was unable to find a suitable larger premises for production in the borough of Hounslow, hence the move to neighbouring Ealing.

Brompton today makes 45,000 folding bikes a year, employs 240 staff and has a turnover of more than £25m.

Managing director Will Butler-Adams was this year made an OBE for services to manufacturing in the Queen's new year's honours list.

Suzie Betlem, president of Brentford Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is galling. I think the onus was on Hounslow Council to have sorted this [finding new premises within the borough] out through their regeneration programme..

"But regeneration to them just means more apartments They don't seem to care about supporting commercial success.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg. They seem to squash any businesses which are trying to expand."

A spokeswoman for Hounslow Council said: "Brompton Bicycles are a hugely important business in the borough and a valued partner of the council. We have been in discussions with them for some time to assist them in finding new and bigger premises.

"We understand Brompton's requirements to be quite specialist and extensive and that it is challenging to find appropriate premises. We do believe that we can find them a suitable long-term solution and we will continue to work with Brompton to support their success."

Brentford & Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury said: "I'm disappointed Brompton are moving from Brentford. I know, having visited on several occasions, how cramped their current premises are as a result of their exponential growth in recent years because they make such good quality bikes.

"I know Brompton wanted to stay locally and am well aware how hard the Council has been working with them to find suitable sites in the area. But sadly, to date no suitable space for sale for industrial use has been found.

"This is a sad indictment of the Government policy that encourages employment land and buildings to be developed for housing, which squeezes out thriving local businesses.

"To move away, even if is to Greenford, will mean the staff, most of them highly skilled, and many living locally, are going to have to travel quite a long distance to get to work. I hope that Brompton will be able to consider arrangements to make that journey as painless as possible, if indeed it is too late to stop them moving away."

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