A £3 million totem to a future beyond the credit crunch is close to completion, testament to one firm’s faith in the county.

The huge new industrial unit going up at Moreton Business Park, Moreton-on-Lugg, will house the distribution arm of M&M Direct, one of Herefordshire’s biggest business success stories.

The expected completion date for the unit is in July.

Total revenue for M&M’s online fashion, outdoor and sportswear sales operation – now a major market player – over 2008/2009 is expected to top £95 million, up an astonishing £55 million over the past six years alone.

M&M finance director Chris Harle said the company was confident of further sales success despite the downturn and needed new premises in spreading itself between More-ton-on-Lugg and its long-time Leominster HQ.

“The new distribution centre means we can stay in the county and keep our success here, something that is important to us. We never wanted to go anywhere else,” said Mr Harle.

M&M was started in 1987 by Herefordshire-based businessman Mark Ellis and his colleague Mark Churchward, from Worcestershire, who teamed up to buy end-of-line clearance sports products.

In 1991, the business began trading as M&M Sports, initially from an outlet in Stourbridge, and four years later set up its base in Leominster.

By 1998 M&M Sports was online with sales topping £40 million by the time of a management buyout in 2004. A year later, the company was called M&M Direct to reflect its increasing product range with sales soaring towards £60 million.

In 2007, US private equity firm TA Associates completed a major investment.

Now operating out of Leominster and Moreton-on-Lugg, M&M largely recruits locally and can claim a number of homegrown success stories on its staff, as well as a loyal “army” of willing hands to swell its ranks when needed. Christmas period saw 800 employees on the books.

At 80,000 square feet, the stand-alone new unit is among the biggest of its kind in the county, and is being built by Leominster-based contractors GP Thomas and Leominster Construction, sourcing materials from local firms.

Hereford’s Mark Atkins Associates is acting as letting agent.