Politicians and business leaders have reacted with disappointment to the news Nestle is leaving Croydon.

The Swiss firm announced today it was leaving its UK base in St George's House in Park Lane for a new office in Crawley.

Council leader Mike Fisher said: "We are obviously very disappointed that Nestlé has decided to leave the borough after more than 40 years.

"We have done everything we possibly could to avoid this outcome, but ultimately we have to respect the fact that Nestle are a footloose global company and can choose where they locate their business.

"We must now re-double our efforts to accelerate the regeneration of the town centre to ensure it is an increasingly attractive location for potential inward investors."

London Assembly Member Croydon Labour candidate Louisa Woodley said it was a "serious blow for Croydon's prospects".

She added: "The eccentric decision of the Council to turn down the business-friendly opportunity of becoming an Enterprise Zone now looks to have been a big mistake.

"The Council's disastrous speculation in the property market has clearly failed to re-generate the town."

Matthew Simms, manager of Croydon Chamber of Commerce, called it a "sad day" for Croydon.

He said: "The impact is going to be vast in Croydon, not just in terms of jobs but also far wider.

"Those 850 or so staff will no longer be spending money in Croydon so there is an impact on the town’s economy, as well as the potential loss of skills and the amount of empty office space.

"It is a sad day to see Nestle leave. When you arrive in East Croydon you see the sign Nestle welcomes you to Croydon – it is an iconic company for Croydon.

"There is no getting around the fact this is a bad development for Croydon but there is always two sides to a story.

"It is now up to the Chamber of Commerce, as well as other agencies who are already working within the town to promote the benefits of Croydon."

Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, said it was “very disappointing”.

He said: “the only silver lining is the move is not far away so a lot of residents can stay but that is a slim silver lining.

“We have got to try and encourage government and other private firms to replace the jobs we are losing.

“I was intimately involved in what the council did to keep Nestle in Croydon and they could not have done any more.

“It went to extraordinary lengths to show a number of different options available in Croydon.”

Mr Barwell said the faltering Park Place development, which saw the council cut its ties with Minerva in May last year, had not helped.

He added: “You could understand their frustration about the number of times they wanted to do something about their immediate environment.”

Richard Ottaway, Croydon South MP, said: “Nestle has been a part of Croydon for a very long time, offering local employment and supporting local organisations. It is therefore very sad to hear that they have decided to move their UK headquarters out of Croydon .

“I know that Croydon Council have worked very hard to try and offer Nestle the new accommodation which they were seeking within the Croydon area.

"However they have chosen a low rise building on a business park campus next to Gatwick Airport – accommodation which Croydon could not match.

“I encourage the Council to press on with their regeneration plans for the town centre; Croydon has a huge amount to offer with excellent transport links and a wide range of residential and commercial accommodation.”

Malcolm Wicks, Croydon North MP, tweeted: "Nestle's move - a very unsweet start to the New Year at a time when Croydon needs jobs and economic optimism"