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Unlimited ambition as agency looks to expand; EXPANSION.

Byline: COREENA FORD coreena.ford@ncjmedia.co.uk

DIGITAL agency Visualsoft has announced plans to expand outside the North East through the opening of offices in four key cities.

The full service eCommerce agency, which is headquartered in Stockton, has grown staffing levels from 20 to more than 200 in six years and announced it is looking to open new offices in Edinburgh, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham.

Chief executive officer Dean Benson said staff have already been recruited for the first opening in Manchester later this year and the other offices will follow over the next year.

Launched 16 years ago, the business has launched over 1,100 online stores on behalf of its clients, which include businesses in the North East such as Charles Clinkard, Psyche and Northern Threads. In March it triumphed as the Teesside Company of the Year at the North East Business Awards.

The firm, which is on target to beat turnover of PS8m for the year ended June 2015, said the new offices will enable it to offer an enhanced service to its existing clients, attract more talented individuals to join the team and connect with other businesses.

Visualsoft has three existing offices across the UK in Stockton, Newcastle and London, and has 1,200 live websites.

In the past 12 months alone, the company has processed 5.3m transactions through its online platform, collectively worth PS300m.

Mr Benson said; "We're really excited about our growth plans, which includes moving into the new HQ and also opening up a number of new offices in key locations around the UK.

"It's been a whirlwind 12 months for Visualsoft, but we're more focused than ever on achieving our goal of becoming the UK's leading digital agency, and opening these offices is another step in the right direction - Teesside will always be our home though.

"It's an exciting time for us and we can open offices pretty much anywhere quite easily, so we are looking at key locations around the country, such as Liverpool and Leeds.

"Manchester will be the first and we've already found people who will work there, so recruitment is not an issue.

"We're looking to be in place and live by the end of the year and once we've got the office formula right we want to roll out as many as we can within the next 12 months."

The firm is about to welcome 10 new starters at its existing offices and an initial five will start in the Manchester office, while more roles will be created as further offices open.

Employees can look forward to very flexible ways of working - as well as healthy breakfasts to help them start their working day.

Since last July the staff have been offered unlimited paid holidays, flexi-time and flexible working conditions.

He said: "From day one we'll be rolling out our policy of unlimited paid holidays, unlimited flexi time, free breakfasts and free protein shakes for all the staff.

"The average age of the 202 workers we have is 28, and we want all of our staff to be fit and healthy, because then you get happy and productive workers, which is why we offer free breakfasts and shakes.

"The unlimited holidays and flexi time takes some people a while to adjust to because they are used to a nine to five working week, but digital technology means the lines are blurred between work and home - how many people check their emails at home or even in the gym? "The unlimited flexi time isn't a benefit - what we do is focus on output. We define a job and measure what the output should be.

"If you have 'x' amount of work to do each week and get that work done then you can take flexi time off. It recognises that our lives are so blended between work and home."

He added: "We are embracing the digital age and trying to do some brave moves to stand out from the crowd."

CAPTION(S):

Chief executive officer of Visualsoft, Dean Benson, centre, with James Wharton MP on a visit to the Visualsoft <Bpremises in Teesside when it first opened. The company is now looking to open four new offices in other key cities
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 24, 2015
Words:706
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