BUSINESS in Basildon is bucking the national trend and thriving despite the country's financial blues.

Pharmaceutical firm Waymade Healthcare has bought new premises and plans to expand, while premises left empty following the demise of Visteon last year have been snapped up.

The news is another boost after it was announced the stalled £1billion masterplan to regenerate the town was back on the cards.

Brian McEwan, general manager for Waymade, said visitors to the firm were shocked by Basildon.

He said: “People laugh at the Basildon sign, but when we have visitors they’re often surprised at the strength of the micro-economy here.

“I’m not saying a lot of businesses haven’t been going through hard times, but people come here and say business is thriving in Basildon.”

Waymade was set up by brothers Bhikhu and Vijay Patel in 1984 and has previously been valued at £394million.

In February, the firm began selling dental supplies and special custom-made drugs.

The new lines have proved so successful, the business needs to expand.

Waymade has just bought a disused warehouse on the Burnt Mills Industrial estate from Lord Alan Sugar’s firm Amsprop.

It is planning to hire more staff to work at the new warehouse, once a major refurbishment to bring it up to industry standards is complete.

Meanwhile, First Data is pulling down most of its old offices in Christopher Martin Road after it moved into Visteon UK’s former offices in Endeavour Drive, Basildon, just over a year ago.

The former Visteon UK factory, in Christopher Martin Road, Basildon, is still vacant, but owners Prologis are actively seeking a new business to move in.

Bala Mahendran, Basildon Council's chief executive, said empty properties in the town’s industrial estates sold like hot cakes. He said: “It is good Waymade want to expand and also that they want to do this within the district.

“First Data has moved into the former Visteon offices in Endeavour Drive and we are seeking to find out what plans they may have for their former office, which is being demolished.

“In Basildon there is a good turnover of businesses. Sites like these do not remain empty for long.”