Sunderland is setting the benchmark for business growth for the rest of the country, according to Royal Mail’s latest Business Barometer data.
The Business Barometer, a detailed analysis of active businesses within the UK, sees Sunderland top the table with a 2.16 per cent increase in growth between March and August of this year, compared to the same period in 2007.
The Business Barometer, which is compiled using Royal Mail’s Business Changes File®, also shows that overall business growth across the UK has slowed as the credit crunch bites, falling from a national average of 2.4 per cent in the previous ranking to 1.4 per cent in the present list.
Sunderland’s growing reputation as the regional focus area for software development has contributed to its impressive rise up the table. The ‘software city’ initiative, led by Sunderland City Council, Sunderland University and technology specialist Leighton Group, supports the development of technology-based businesses in the area. North East Business & Innovation Centre is currently home to 165 technology businesses, while Sunderland’s School of Computing & Technology is the largest ICT training facility in the UK.
Cllr Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said the area’s success was founded on the creation of strong partnerships between the local authority and business, forming the bedrock of solid growth and standing Sunderland in good stead for trickier economic times.
He added: “The Royal Mail survey shows that commerce and industry are recognising that Sunderland is a great place to do business. As a local authority it is our duty to forge and develop strong relationships with businesses in the area. In difficult economic circumstances it is vital that we work with business, offering practical advice to help drive growth.
“In the last five years, Sunderland has attracted 7,500 jobs, capital investment totalling more than £1bn and in the past decade attracted more inward investment than any other location in the North East. Sunderland City Council and its partners work closely with businesses offering a wide range of practical support and the Royal Mail figures are further proof that this city is one of the most competitive business locations in the UK.”
Northern England and Scotland have performed well overall, with Sunderland climbing 33 places to take the top spot, Bolton coming in as a new entry at number two and Dundee climbing 26 places to number three.
The percentage growth figure for each place is calculated by working out the total number of businesses opening in a town as a proportion of the overall number of firms in that location.
Colin Bradshaw, Head of Data Strategy at Royal Mail, said: “Royal Mail delivers to every address in the UK and is ideally placed to monitor the growth in business communities across the country.
“The current economic situation has created a challenging environment for businesses throughout the UK but we are pleased to see that the latest Business Barometer proves that many places are still doing well despite the downturn.”
The Business Barometer comes as Royal Mail recruits 100 booming small businesses across the UK to share their tips for success with other companies as part of its initiative to help firms thrive. They are sharing their stories and providing advice through an online service, www.royalmail.com/growth, where small businesses can create tailored growth packs full of ideas and inspiring stories to help them find and keep customers as well as save time and money.
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