The pandemic and lockdowns hit everybody hard. Businesses had to adapt, and unfortunately, many had to shut up shop. But, surprisingly, the latest ONS figures for new businesses set up in 2021 show the highest count in over four years with a total of 401,810. That’s an 11% increase from 2020, which had a total of 360,455 new businesses set up altogether.
When it comes down to individual quarters, it was the first quarter of 2021 that showed the highest count of new businesses born out of all the quarters since 2017, with a record of 136,765.
The first quarter of 2021 records the highest number of business births in four years
UK businesses lost £23million in turnover during pandemic, with a quick bounce-back
When examining the recorded turnover for UK businesses during 2020 compared to the previous year, it’s clear to see the impact of a pandemic. During 2019, the overall turnover for that year was £105,937,229, but for 2020, it was £82,350,398, resulting in a £23,586,831 loss in comparison. To put that into context, 2018’s overall turnover was recorded at £117,950,437 and 2017’s was £128,913,676. Quite remarkably though, the first quarter of 2021 recorded the highest ever turnover since the first quarter of 2017, with £34,788,650, showing that the UK is pretty resilient. This coincides with the highest record of new business births in the same quarter in four years, with a total of 136,765. And latest figures show similar stats with the first quarter of 2022 recording a count of 136,390 for new businesses set up.
The Construction sector leads the way for new business in the first quarter of 2022
During the first quarter of 2022, when analysing the breakdown of new business counts by industries, it’s the Construction industry that beats the rest with a total of 18,695. Followed by Business Administration and Support Services with 16,685, and Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities with 16,135. The industry with the least number of new business births so far this year is Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing with 1,250.
The North West pulls big business after London and the South East
Out of all the regions across the UK, unsurprisingly, London takes the top spot for the most business births during 2021, with 90,365. The South East follows with 53,330 new businesses recorded the same year. The next highest count of new businesses, when looking at regions in 2021, was the North West with 41,975, followed by:
- East – 36,200
- West Midlands – 33,450
- South West – 29,170
- Yorkshire and the Humber – 27,935
- East Midlands – 24,685
- Scotland – 20,495
- Wales – 15,615
- North East – 11,595
- Northern Ireland – 7,575
Why are more businesses setting up in the North West?
The figures for new business births across the UK show that the North West region (outside of London and the South East) has recorded the highest number in every quarter since 2017, apart from in the second quarter of 2019. So, why are businesses flocking to the North West?
Manchester is a leading digital and media hub
When it comes to the digital and technology industry, Manchester is giving London a run for its money. For instance, The University of Manchester is ranked 45th in the world for the best universities for Engineering and Technology, beating some notable London universities, and the likes of The University of Edinburgh and Cardiff University. The University of Bolton is also in the top 50 universities ranked by The Guardian, offering innovative courses in Computing, Games, Animation and Illustration, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Business Management.
Stephen Hobson, Director of Business of Datacentreplus chose Manchester because: “It is home for me and there is nowhere else in the world like it. I have always said that the city has thrown up a number of chances that I don’t think I would have got in another city.”
The region is also home to MediaCityUK – an international hub for technology, innovation and creativity, and home to the BBC, ITV, Ericsson, Dock10, Kellogg’s, and more than 250 smaller media and digital businesses.
Exciting developments like a new ‘space hub’
Just last year it was announced there would be the first ever North West ‘space hub’ thanks to new government backing to attract companies and create more jobs.
Bolton’s £250m redevelopment scheme has also been confirmed this year with plans for 150 homes, a 110-bedroom hotel, a mixed-use retail, leisure and dining space, as well as more office space.
Wigan is also set for a £130m town centre redevelopment with plans to transform its shopping centre into a multimedia centre with a six-screen cinema, bowling alley, indoor mini golf, music and E-sports venue, and food and drinks units.
Managing Director of Greater Manchester office redesign team, Diamond Interiors, Nick Pollitt shares his take on why the North West is popular for businesses: “Locations up north are cheaper to rent, and there’s a thriving community here linked to specialised universities nearby. Businesses are opting for Manchester or towns outside of the bustling city for their exciting development plans. We are based in Wigan and love it here. We’re not too far from Manchester for networking and love the area, the community, and how the government is stepping up investment and development plans.”
The North West has some really exciting plans ahead, and it’s already benefited from increased investment over the years. It will be interesting to see if more businesses continue to set up shop there in years to come, and if it may even attract more from down south.