Put simply, East Devon is an area of outstanding natural beauty stretching out along the Jurassic Coast.


Axminster Tools & Machinery sits on the northern edge of the market town of Axminster, Devon’s most easterly town, close to the Fosse Way and the Somerset and Dorset borders.


The company, founded by the current managing director’s grandfather in 1972, is a thriving business employing more than 200 people at the Axminster HQ and retail store and a further 70 at other stores around the UK. With over 14,000 product lines, Axminster’s business is mainly in retailing tools and machinery, sourcing products from all over the globe and selling to the UK and 100 plus countries. The customer base is diverse ranging from professional tradespeople and businesses to craft and hobby enthusiasts. Axminster’s business success is underpinned by providing a quality service that customers can depend upon.


A lesser-known strand to the business is manufacturing on the Axminster site. The company has its own innovation team and engineering workshop where it produces woodworking accessories such as bandsaw blades, jigs for accurate woodwork and woodturning components. What’s more the company works with factories around the world which in turn are manufacturing Axminster’s own brand products designed by the innovation team.


Export growth has also been a key factor to the success of the business in recent years. Axminster is now active in more than 100 countries, expanding beyond Europe and developing markets in USA, Australia and South Africa. 


“We’re first and foremost a family company” says MD Alan Styles. “The company was set up by my grandfather over 45 years ago, but taken forward due to the efforts of both my father and my uncle. My cousin Hayley is also a director and my brother Tim is now taking on more responsibility. Most of our people live in the East Devon area, although some do now travel from Exeter and parts of Somerset and Dorset. As a family company we feel quality of life and work-life balance is so important. “


Alan goes on to say: “We are lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country. Here in Devon we have access to some incredibly stunning countryside, coastline and beaches. We must remember not to take it all for granted. I feel it’s vitally important to give back to the community and environment in which we live and work, and I’m keen for the company to support local and wider initiatives in health, education and business.”


East Devon is at the heart of the company’s history and, as with much of Devon, has provided physical space in which to expand,offering a thriving and stable base for substantial and sustainable business growth. Looking to the future, Alan’s vision is for every workshop across the globe to experience Axminster tools.




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Thanks to Devon Wildlife Trust, Exeter City Council, Exeter Science Park, Kor Communications, The Met Office and case study brands for photo permissions.