Leeds pips London as best location to run business in the UK

Leeds pips London as best location to run business in the UK
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ Albert Pego

Sheffield, Wakefield and Bradford have all been named as some of the best locations in the UK to run a business, with Leeds pipping London and coming first.

The cities were reviewed by the Leeds City Region LEP using nine metrics – including price per sq ft for commercial rent properties, broadband speed and number of finance & support schemes available from government.

Having developed the ranking system based on evidence from a variety of metrics linked to setting up and running a business, the LEP aims to highlight some of the best locations around the country for business leaders to set up shop.

The three best areas for business leaders to pay attention to were revealed as Leeds, Kirklees and London, with Leeds leading the way as the number one location for businesses across all metrics.

The top ten places to run a business from in the UK according to these measures are:

  1. Leeds
  2. Kirklees
  3. London
  4. Bradford
  5. Liverpool
  6. Birmingham
  7. Wakefield
  8. Coventry
  9. Manchester
  10. Sheffield

With the average rent per square foot coming in at £301, Leeds is not the lowest cost destination to host a business. Kirklees takes that coveted spot with the average rent per square foot in the area costing only £13.501.

However, Leeds ranks best in terms of low unemployment rates (4%), a high quality of life score (7.76), a large percentage of young population in the city (222,673) and a high annual pay (£33,245), helping the city achieve the overall top spot.

Looking outside of Leeds City Centre, other areas within Leeds City Region also ranked highly for low rent prices alongside Kirklees (£13.50), including Bradford (£15), Wakefield (£16) and Sheffield (£25).

The findings indicate the Leeds City Region should be a real consideration for any business leaders looking for a new location.

Bradford also ranked highly for the average cost of parking, which on a weekday is only £3.34 compared to rocketing prices in places such as London (£44).

For businesses still looking to establish their headquarters in London, leaders should be prepared to pay 344% more per square foot compared to Kirklees, with the average rent in the capital coming in at a hefty £60+ per square foot.

Unsurprisingly, businesses based in the capital have access to a higher volume of government funding schemes (44) compared to other cities, however everywhere within the Leeds City Region (including Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and Kirklees) has access to an impressive 12 schemes3b. Manchester (10), Coventry (4), Birmingham (3) and the other listed cities also have access to a range of funding opportunities, should businesses qualify.

Other costs to be considered include energy bills, however this is determined by the size of the business rather than location. Large businesses can expect to foot a bill of around £3,139 each year for energy compared to £706 for small businesses.

In addition to these metrics, Leeds has a large volume of higher education student enrolments, with over 63,00012 currently in the city, meaning businesses have access to a high volume of graduates who are keen to begin their professional careers. The education ecosystem in Leeds City Region also boasts nine universities and 14 higher education colleges contributing to a fast-growing talent pipeline.