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Chris & Co: Kent is 'very inspiring' for business say firms and judges in The Future List – but warning issued to big banks

By Chris Price

Kent is a “very inspiring” place for business which attracts firms thanks to its natural setting but links to major city centres, according to judges and companies in the Future List.

Last week, Kent Business published the rundown of 25 firms changing the way we live and work with their innovative products and services.

One of the companies on the list was Elvis & Kresse, which makes handbags and accessories from old fire hoses and other waste.

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Elvis & Kresse products are made at Tonge Mill
Elvis & Kresse products are made at Tonge Mill

The firm is based in a Grade II listed mill in the village of Tonge, just outside Sittingbourne.

Speaking on KMTV business show Chris & Co, Canadian co-founder Kresse Wesling said: “What drew us was the mix of nature and the access to big urban centres.

“We can get to London and Europe very easily but we are in an absolutely stunning landscape surrounded by cherry trees and apple trees.”

The Future List was put together by a team of four industry experts from Kent.

Among them was Sue Nelson, chief executive of Breakthrough Funding, an Ashford-based firm which recovers R&D tax rebates for businesses.

She said: “Kent is an incredibly diverse county.

“In the north we have loads of industrial companies doing lots of engineering.

“In Discovery Park in Sandwich you have got some real high-tech companies and in Tunbridge Wells we have loads of financial services and legal companies.

The Future List features 25 companies changing the way Kent lives and does business

Breakthrough Funding chief executive Sue Nelson
Breakthrough Funding chief executive Sue Nelson

“Also it is a very rural county and there is a lot of innovation going on in farms and in vineyards springing up all around the county.

“I’ve never known such a diverse county and it’s very inspiring.”

Mrs Wesling and Nelson also discussed the growing list of closures among high street banks – and issued a warning to the big four lenders.

“The fight is for banks to stay relevant in business rather than the other way around,” said Mrs Wesling.

Elvis & Kresse products being made from old fire hoses
Elvis & Kresse products being made from old fire hoses

“The more they retreat and stop providing loans the more they are going to have to fight back once they discover they have been disrupted themselves.

“The closure of banks has a big impact on certain consumers that have grown up and used bank branches all their lives and it affects cash-driven businesses.

“Other businesses will find it a lot easier to adapt, certainly when they are using online payment systems. You rely on them less and less.”

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