The Importance of UK Business Outside of London

Recently, I was given the honour of being asked to sit on a panel to judge Management Today Magazine’s ‘21 Best Towns & Cities in Britain for Business.’ This research ranked the UK’s major urban spaces, barring London, on how attractive they are as places to do business.

At Procorre, we’re lucky enough to work with colleagues and partner businesses based all over the world. We’re a truly global business with offices in the UK, Mainland Europe and Asia, but it’s easy to see why some organisations believe that opportunity starts and stops on the edge of the M25.

It was great to deliberate over this subject with my fellow judges, including Tim Lloyd, MD of AML Group; Jim Hubbard, Head of Regional Policy at the CBI; Paul Swinney, Director of Policy and Research at the Centre of Cities; and David Landsman, former Executive Director of Tata Europe.

Focusing on all manner of factors that make an organisation tick, my fellow judges and I reviewed a variety of metrics including productivity, the strength of innovation, the scale of the private sector ecosystem and the rate of growth, to name just a few. A shortlist of 21 towns and cities were invited to put forward their case for the top spot and after much careful consideration, we came up with a ranking.

The Results

The full list and ranking can be viewed here, where you’ll see Manchester pips Bristol to post for number one, and Leeds takes the third spot on the podium. It was a combination of new investment, educational opportunities and breadth of innovation, among other numerous factors, which saw Manchester to victory. However, I’m extremely proud of the fact that Bristol came a close second, with its wealth of creativity, digital tech cluster and forward-thinking approach, to name just a few key attributes. And of course then Leeds, with the UK’s largest financial services cluster outside of London thanks to the 30 international banks based there. There’s also plenty of opportunity to be had for Procorre’s consultants in this Northern city, with its emerging fintech and cyber security sectors. With Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff also all making the top ten, be sure to find out how your town or city of business fared

Being Local & Global

Although not originally from Bristol, it’s been my home since the early noughties, and it’s been an absolute pleasure as CEO of Procorre to base myself within the city and be able to look back and see how we’ve managed to grow the business here as one of our main offices. In such uncertain economic times, it’s the towns & cities spread throughout this country that will ensure the UK maintains a steady footing on the world stage.

I was recently named Most Inspirational Business Women in the West, and I believe it’s a combination of the great local talent on offer in Bristol, combined with a global outlook, which gives Procorre’s Bristol operation an edge. We’re extremely proud of our staff retention rates and we’ve worked very hard to ensure Procorre continues to be entrepreneurial and forward-thinking wherever possible. We’ve also been busy putting a stake in the ground for equality within the wider management consultancy industry with our Procorre100 campaign, which you can find out more about here.

Looking at the results of this Management Today research in its entirety, it is encouraging to see that London is not the only environment where businesses have the opportunity to thrive. However, for every success story, there are still of course many organisations that struggle to get off the ground or run into difficulties further down the line, because running a business is never easy. Business leaders should invest heavily in their people and ensure they take every opportunity to seek out the information and support that will help them get the ingredients of business right, to give their firm every chance of future success.

The Management Today research was designed to let people see that there’s opportunity all over the UK. Some of the most recognisable brands are now based all over the country, along with all the support any fledgling business needs to take off, or any established organisation needs to keep flourishing. With extra support and less of the financial burden of living and working in London, along with the plethora of culture centres and often the promise of a better work life balance, it’s clear to see why many businesses are now choosing their locations in ever greater variety.

By Anne O’Donnell