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High-tech jobs boom in Bristol with hundreds of new roles created as ‘Silicon Gorge’ takes off

18 May 2022
The Business Magazine article image for: High-tech jobs boom in Bristol with hundreds of new roles created as ‘Silicon Gorge’ takes off

Hundreds of new high-tech jobs are being created in Bristol as workers flock to the city seeking a better quality of life.

The South West is starting to rival London as a tech hub around the ‘Silicon Gorge’ region incorporating Bristol, Gloucester and Swindon.

Leading the charge in Bristol is Brightpearl, based in Marsh Street in the city centre, which has more than doubled its headcount in the last year from 100 to 217.

The retail software provider is looking to fill a similar number of further roles by the end of this year with 30 already recruited as year-on-year sales surge.

Brightpearl is expanding fast following its £275 million take-over by enterprise software giant Sage at the end of last year.

Jacqui Coombs, chief of staff at Brightpearl, said: "Bristol employs 8,000 people in the tech industry, and is home to almost 500 tech firms, including Brightpearl.

“The sector continues to grow - over the last year, companies in Bristol attracted more than £300 million in investment, meaning there will be even more opportunities for people in the city.

"Bristol is known for engineering excellence and innovation, and yet it can still be difficult at times to fill roles, even in tech engineering. Companies, like Brightpearl, invest in talent and great culture, encourage learning and development, listen to their employees and recognise and most importantly, value the benefits that come with offering flexible working practices - to everyone. The city needs to attract more tech talent - which it should be able to do, because it really is a fantastic place to work. From career opportunities to the outstanding quality of life, Bristol is the place to be for tech professionals.”

Ecommerce firm Huboo is a classic high-tech success story in Bristol with rapid growth and offices in Corn Street which include a bar area and outside terrace, climbing wall, grand piano and a relaxed environment which allows staff to bring their dogs to work.

Its team has expanded from 275 people in May last year to a current total of 630 employees - a headcount increase of 130%. It is looking to hire a further 100-150 tech staff this year.

Martin Bysh, Huboo’s co-founder and CEO, said: “Our headcount increase over the past year is an illustration of our rapid growth. One of our main aims at Huboo is to nurture and support the best regional talent, which is why we want our offices to be inspiring and inviting, all while offering the best opportunities for our employees to thrive.”

Recent months have seen a boom for the firm, as year-on-year revenue increased by 124% between January 2021 and January 2022. In addition, warehouse space has more than doubled over the past 12 months - from 186,508 sq ft to 378,469 sq ft.

Meanwhile, an average of more than 50 new customers were signed up each month.

Huboo enables online retailers of all sizes to access a complete fulfilment operation within minutes to speed up their processes.

Shipping software specialists Shiptheory, based in the city’s Paintworks, is hiring 60 extra staff this year.

Mark Mikkelson, Shiptheory's head of operations, said: “Our team is already growing at such a speed that we're having to move to a much larger office as we literally can't fit everyone in, and our new office is going to be approximately five times our current one to accommodate for the planned growth over the team over the next year.”

Mark said Bristol was a ‘hotbed’ for young tech talent.

He said: “The term 'Silicon Gorge' incorporating Bristol, Gloucester and Swindon has been floating around for a while now.

“There are a number of great things about Bristol that make it a hotbed for technical talent - it's got great transport links to London, the south and the rest of the world from the airport, and we're surrounded by great Russell Group universities in Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

“Bristol has diversity that interlocks. When we were based in St Paul's I used to grab Jamaican food from the local community canteen for lunch every day. In a huge city like London, you're probably nipping to Pret, or the closest chain everyday. But I had some great conversations with people I met and got chatting to people from all sorts of walks of life. Some of those people gave us great new ideas, some are now personal friends, and some even work with us at Shiptheory.

“We've moved offices a few times since, and each time we've been based in a dynamic and diverse community with a variety of people, cultures and cuisines. Everyone in Bristol is open-minded and inclusive - an ethos we've tried to incorporate at Shiptheory from day one.

“Wherever you go in Bristol, it's vibrant and there's stuff happening, and you don't have to spend long here to realise the community feel is infectious. I'd encourage anyone looking to break ground in tech to look no further than Bristol as the perfect incubator to kick off their growth.”

Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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