A new business plan has been approved for HTS setting out the future development of Harlow Council’s local authority trading company – HTS Group Ltd.

The new 5-year business plan was agreed at last night’s (23 March) Shareholder Sub Committee meeting. The new plan is in response to the council’s new corporate strategy, which balances the need to focus on the core services and the phasing of an ambitious commercial approach spanning a set of short, medium and long-term goals required to move HTS forward.

The plan sets out how HTS can expand and modernise in future and focusses on:

  • A continuous focus on performance, through an improved level of delivery that is actioned within HTS’ core services – environment and housing maintenance work provided for the council.
  • Development of a trading company to support the council’s commercialisation agenda – a new business development team will be recruited.
  • Building long-term foundations for the company to be a leading provider of public sector services in Harlow and the East of England – complementing the core delivery of the group.
  • A focus on skills, with a new academy to upskill the workforce to respond to emerging opportunities, including developing the group’s knowledge base to adapt to green ventures that will also support the town’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

There are recommendations to develop and expand the group’s activities within its existing housing and regeneration arm and a new construction company – these proposals are subject to a feasibility study and options appraisal respectively, which will be considered by the Sub Committee later in the year.

Councillor Joel Charles, Deputy Leader of Harlow Council, said:

“The new business plan is a framework for the HTS Group to deliver improvements to its core services and access new commercial opportunities to realise the full potential of what a local authority trading company can do for the town. Upskilling its workforce, supporting local businesses through an enhanced supply chain that means more can be invested in the Harlow pound, reaching out across the East of England to win new business that will attract talent and boost the performance of its existing portfolio of commercial interests. This is good news for taxpayers as the business plan strengthens the viability of the HTS Group and its scope to deliver further profitability – money that will be reinvested in Harlow.

“It is fair to say that the development of this business plan has been a complex undertaking over a near ten-month period, but the end result is a roadmap to build on the existing foundations and develop an expanded group structure that means HTS will be more responsive to local need. Its expansion can help play a role in supporting the resilience of the town’s economy that has been impacted by the pandemic – the council is working to use all the levers available to rapidly head towards recovery.”

John Phillips, HTS Group Ltd Managing Director, said:

“This is an exciting time for HTS. We are looking forward to building on the success over the last 5 years to position the group to access both public and private sector opportunities across the region that will benefit our residents in Harlow. Our core activities here in Harlow will always remain a key priority to ensure that we can focus on bringing continual improvements to the Town. We look forward to the closer collaborative working relationship with our shareholder that will allow us to deliver results.”