Is this the best office in Lancashire?
Bosses at EKM certainly hope so, with a three-storey slide for staff, an Airstream caravan for meetings, deck chairs, games consoles, Nerf guns, table tennis, gym, a 120-seater auditorium and free breakfasts from the industrial-sized kitchen.
The £3.5m development has opened in Caxton Road, Fulwood, and houses 85 members of staff who are busy building and developing online shops.
“Why not?” said managing director Antony Chesworth, when asked why he wanted to install the huge metal slide.
“I want people to come to work with a smile on their face. Life’s too short.
“I want everyone at EKM to love what they’re doing. Can you love what you do working in a white box with one window and a brew kitty?
“I want it where people who don’t know what we do want to work for us, and we’re already seeing the number of applications has shot up.”
Wife Alison, 33, said: “We want the best people to work for us, so we have to make it attractive. You’re not just up against other local businesses anymore, it’s the rest of the world.”
Founded 15 years ago in Antony’s bedroom in Burnley, the company has grown to now provide one in five of the UK’s online shops, with £500m spent via their platforms each year.
The Preston move comes after the amalgamation of EKM’s Darwen and Leyland offices.
Alison said: “We did open an office in Spinningfields in Manchester as a way to attract developers, but we found all the applicants were coming from the Preston area, having to make a horrendous commute. So we started looking in the Preston area and we knew it would be good because of the fantastic commuter links.
The building has been completely redesigned to reflect the styles of internet giants -and EKM business partners - Google and Facebook.
Antony, 36, who describes himself as a “virtual shop landlord”, said: “It’s drilled into us that business is boring. If you watch Dragon’s Den, they’re all suited and booted, but that’s not real business. Why does it have to be like that?”
Antony, who now lives in Poulton with Alison and their two daughters, added: “I appreciate that this building isn’t normal, but I think things are heading in this direction.
“Thirty years ago everyone worked in a factory, 100 years ago children were being sent up chimneys. People want more these days, they expect more.”