Leeds City Region remains one of leading UK locations for foreign investment

Leeds City Region has once again been recognised as one of the UK’s leading locations for foreign direct investment following figures released today by EY (Ernst & Young) in their annual Attractiveness Survey.

The report shows that in a period where foreign direct investment projects into the UK dropped by over 12 percent, Leeds is one of the only UK core cities to have increased the number of projects, with the City Region attracting 29 last year.

Third best outside London 

With the city being selected for 21 projects in 2018, Leeds has been ranked the third best performing city in the UK outside of London for attracting foreign direct investment. The results highlight that overseas investors continue to see Leeds and the wider region as a competitive location for investment.

Despite 2018 being a tough year for manufacturing across the UK, Leeds City Region is bucking the national trend and seeing growth in foreign direct investment in the manufacturing sector. One of the significant projects to land in the Leeds City Region in 2018 was US company Avnet.  Owner of the electrical components business Premier Farnell, Avnet renewed its commitment to operations in Leeds by taking the largest ever pre-let industrial development. It will occupy a 326,000 square foot unit located at at Logic Leeds.

Strong digital capability

In terms of national investment trends, the EY report shows that the digital and business services sectors accounted for a large majority of UK foreign direct investment projects. It highlights how the strong digital capability and thriving technology sector in Leeds City Region makes it well placed to capitalise on this opportunity.

Highly successful Tech Hubs such as Bruntwood’s Platform building continue to attract and support the expansion of digital technology businesses. Continued growth by Australian fintech Sandstone Technology, plus the arrival of Estonian fintech scale-up Fitek and US sports analytics business Hudl confirm Leeds as now having the highest concentration of scale-ups outside London.

Outside of foreign direct investment, Leeds City Region has also attracted significant levels of domestic investment from high-profile national brands.

Channel 4

Channel 4 confirmed that Leeds City Region will be the home to its new national HQ including much of its creative and digital departments. This will enhance an already powerful hub for screen, creative and digital talent and its benefit will be felt far wider, across our towns and cities, in infrastructure developments, skills and career opportunities.

Investor confidence is also evident across the Leeds City Region. PWC recently opened a new office in Bradford city centre and in May, leading technology solutions business AND Digital announced the opening of a new operation in Halifax.

EY's report also identifies a reduction in the number of projects from the manufacturing sector implying that uncertainty surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU is impacting on investment decisions. This is particularly challenging for regions outside of London.

The findings emphasise that UK regions must also maintain a strong focus on influencing Chinese investor perceptions. Overall, Chinese investment into the UK has dropped 65% in 2018, a much sharper drop than Europe has experienced.

Investor confidence

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Northern Powerhouse body NP11, said: “These figures are great news for Leeds City Region. Leeds is now one of the top three cities for inward investment in the UK and investor confidence in the region continues. Leeds is bucking the national trend and along with Belfast is one of the only core cities to be winning more projects in a period when FDI is down nationally.”

“The strength of the Leeds City Region digital sector is undoubtedly helping to attract new investment and opportunities to the region. International law firm, Reed Smith, are capitalising on our digital strengths and adapting to future needs by locating their new tech hub in Leeds.”

“The EY report also suggests that a large number of digital and technology investment decisions are currently on hold. These are now the opportunities we want to secure into the region by working in collaboration with our local authorities and the private sector to ensure all districts and the wider City Region benefit.”

Cllr Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “Leeds is experiencing a period of exciting growth in a number of sectors and making big strides forwards in regards to our success with Foreign Direct Investments as is demonstrated by this latest report.

“As a city powered by innovators, our digital sector is thriving, with the recent billion pound-plus deals for technology “unicorns” Skybet and Callcredit and now new companies such as Reed Smith choosing Leeds above other locations, attracted by our growing reputation as a young and thriving economic centre where people enjoy living and working and where world-leading companies can build and flourish.”

Download the full EY 2019 Attractiveness Report.

05 Jun 2019