Situated just16 miles northwest of Manchester, the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan boasts a population of over 300, 000 people and is therefore considered an important administrative centre within the greater Manchester area. Historically the city was originally famed as a centre for the manufacture of porcelain, as well as being a recognised centre for the production of clocks. Wigan later grew into a major mill town and coal mining district with coal becoming an important part of the local economy right up until the late 20th century. Since the1990s however, Wigan has been developing along with the rest of the region into a high tech, service based economy that now supports a growing workforce.
In recent years, Wigan has benefited from both public and private sector investment thanks to national and European funding programmes. The city has also attracted a number of global industrial and commercial companies and is now home to some of the UK’s biggest brands, including H. J. Heinz, one of Europe’s most successful food manufacturers, which has a 55-acre (220,000 m2) site in Wigan, making it the the largest food processing plant in Europe.
Tote bookmakers has also based its headquarters in Wigan, as has Girobank and and JJB Sports. The latter was actually founded in the city and continues to employ a large workforce. Westwood Park is Wigan’s largest business zone, with plans already in place to expand the area into a £125 million, 55 acre textile zone as a joint venture with Chinamex, which will lead to an estimated 1000 jobs being created in the area. Locally based recruitment agencies such as Daniel Adams have a strategic advantage when it comes to servicing these new ventures because they are able to match jobseekers' skills with the evolving employment needs of the region as a whole.
Commercial organisations and private residents find Wigan an attractive and convenient location thanks to its strategic position between Manchester and Liverpool. Good transport links include major motorway and road networks and Wigan North Western is also situated on the West Coast Main Line, with Virgin Trains offering regular express services to London Euston, Birmingham, Lancaster, Carlisle, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Northern Rail also has trains to Preston and Blackpool, as well as a regular local service to Liverpool Lime Street.