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Berkshire: Report highlights importance of foreign-owned companies in county

By Dan Teuton
27 November 2018

Foreign-owned companies generate nearly half of the local turnover in Berkshire - and create 30% of local employment, a new report by the Local Enterprise Partnership has found.

Berkshire has the highest concentration of foreign-owned companies of all LEP areas.

Berkshire has achieved strong Foreign Direct Investment figures in recent years, leading to an increase in the number of foreign-owned companies, from 945 in 2010 to 1,020 in 2017.

While Berkshire’s foreign-owned companies only represented 2% of all local businesses in 2017, they generated 30% of local employment and 47% of local turnover.

Since 2010, the proportion of local jobs in Foreign Owned Companies has increased from 25% to 30%. Slough has the greatest proportion of employment in EU owned firms and Bracknell in ‘rest of the world’ owned firms.

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP's second edition of its Business in Berkshire Report is a 'comprehensive evidence base for Berkshire-based business support organisations and those with an interest in the local economy'. It brings together a wide range of information, including: Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), high-growth firms, relocations, deals and research & development.

Key insights

Thames Valley Berkshire’s strong private sector provides 443,800 jobs and is the driving force behind the area’s high levels of economic output and productivity. It is also becoming increasingly international.  Primarily as a result of its location, but also its skills base, the sub region continues to attract significant FDI, with over 1,000 Foreign-Owned Companies (in 2017) now located in the area; an 8% increase from 2010. Whilst Berkshire’s Foreign Owned Companies only represent 2% of local businesses, they generate 30% of local employment and 47% of local turnover.

The number of Berkshire firms scaling up (20% growth per year for three years) remains stable (and high, as a proportion of all firms, when compared to other areas of the country) and 12 Berkshire firms were featured in the 2018 Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list.

Extensive urban regeneration and the imminent arrival of the Elizabeth Line are adding to Berkshire’s locational strengths. Furthermore, the recent announcements of investment in Berkshire by leading professional services firms, such as Deloitte and KPMG, suggest long-term optimism for the performance of Berkshire’s businesses.

Business support in Berkshire

The report also focuses on the priorities designed to support the future growth of businesses. These include: promoting the sub region using Thames Valley Berkshire LEP’s Sector Propositions; supporting schools to prepare young people for the world of work by working with the Careers and Enterprise Company’s Enterprise Adviser Network; investing European Social Funds in the Berkshire Apprenticeship Hub to provide a one-stop shop for businesses - to gain fast and easy access to information; targeting inward investment activity with the support of the Department for International Trade and the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce; and  investing  £5 million European Regional Development Funds in the Thames Valley Science Park.

In developing its Local Industrial Strategy, access to finance remains a priority for the LEP. In 2012 the LEP took the innovative step of investing £7.3m Growing Places Fund into a bespoke Funding Escalator for high-growth potential SMEs; the first LEP in the country to use GPF in this way. In 2018, having already increased the fund to £8.3m, the LEP committed a further £3m to operate as an ‘evergreen fund’; loans will also now be available up to £300,000.

In supporting start-ups, high-growth firms and scale-ups, the Berkshire Business Growth Hub offers impartial and actionable help and support services to anyone starting or expanding their own business. All of these activities have transformed the way businesses can grow by creating an enduring legacy of business investment, innovation and growth in Berkshire.

Daniel Barlow, partner at Deloitte, said of the report: “At Deloitte, we view the LEP’s annual Business in Berkshire publication as the pre-eminent valuable source of information on the local economy and the key players within it.”

Robin Barnes, programme lead for enterprise, innovation & business growth at Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, added: “I am delighted to be able to report the continued vibrant health of the Berkshire economy and its continued capacity to attract strong levels of FDI. There is no doubt that there are challenges ahead for the area, however the report provides optimism and demonstrates Berkshire’s resilience and strength for the future. This evidence base will further help inform the development of a Local Industrial Strategy for Berkshire.”

Download the report here