Jeremy Taylor, Chief Executive of Gatwick Diamond Business, asks David Shore, MD of Time24, about the changes he has seen in almost thirty years of manufacturing in Manor Royal.

Jeremy Taylor (JT): What are your memories of the business environment in the Gatwick Diamond when you started, back in 1987?

David Shore (DS): When we started, the North Terminal Development was going on, so we had negative unemployment. It wasn’t zero unemployment; there were far more vacancies than people to fill them. They were actually importing people from the Northeast, as getting hold of people was impossible. We set up in a converted farm, trying to get hold of skilled staff, and it was almost impossible.

When the major recession hit in 1989-92, big corporations like Rediffusion suddenly released their apprentice-trained guys, which for us, in terms of lifting our skill base, was fantastic, as we took on, at a reasonable price, all these guys who had spent years working in a good apprenticeship. It enabled us to bid for much better, higher-skilled work than we’d been able to before.

When the economy is really up in the UK, being this close to Gatwick means it always gets very tough. Those who have been around long enough can remember the problems of negative unemployment, how wage rates rocketed up. We are in a labour-sensitive market, and if my wage rates suddenly start cranking up like that again, we’ve got a real problem; it would take me out.

Around this time, there was more manufacturing here, and a greater concentration of aviation-related industries.

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