Why UK firm chose Toowoomba for global reach
A BRITISH e-commerce firm that moves bricks-and-mortar businesses online selected Toowoomba as the home its latest office, located in The Bank.
Swanky is based in Exeter and manages Shopify Plus, the dominant e-commerce platform. It also helps businesses transition to online sales and develops their websites.
It has about 40 staff working from its UK and Chennai offices.
The agency's Australian manager, Sean Clanchy, said the company passed over major centres in North America and Asia, for now.
He said Toowoomba's reliable internet, planned 5G network and cheap office overheads motivated the decision.
The University of Southern Queensland was also a factor.
"One of the hardest things is finding good staff," he said.
"We take most of our hires out of the University of Exeter because we can coach them up; we can show them our processes. I would love to give graduates somewhere that they could work with the big brands and still live in Toowoomba."
The city straddles key US and Asian time zones, allowing Swanky staff to service clients in both regions.
If problems cannot be solved remotely than Wellcamp Airport is close by.
"As the local population grows and the airport offers more flights, then that opens up the gateway to Asia more and more," Mr Clancy said.
"I can already be in Sydney by morning tea for meetings."
Mr Clancy expects to have 10 staff working from Toowoomba by the end of 2019.
Australia is a booming market for e-commerce and Swanky already works with major Darling Downs brands, including Goondiwindi Cotton and Hitchley & Harrow.
Mr Clanchy said the country's wide-open spaces and declining main-street retail conditions drive that growth.
"E-commerce drought-proofs retail," he said.
"If you have a store out the back of Mitchell or Roma and you have only got cash flow when the river has water in it, you are in strife.
"But if you can develop a niche and start selling into cities along the eastern seaboard, or internationally, you are much more viable."