Bradford: A Heaven for Investors

Investing is by no means a simple process; there are countless considerations that must be paid, and infinite risks along the way. But sometimes the best advice is extremely simple to digest. A few choice words can summarize winning strategies and rules of thumb quite nicely. There are few places around the world which can said to be the real heaven for investors and Bradford is one of them.

Bradford is the centre of a metropolitan district with a population of around 500,000, which runs out into surrounding rural areas, most of which are firmly Tory. Indeed, the Conservatives ran the council with the help of the ruling party.

Bradford city is the focus of major investment and is a key driver for growth across the district. Over the last few years, an excess of £1 Billion of private sector investment has been complemented by over £30 million of investment in the public realm. The city’s local authority has made the redevelopment of the city a key priority. Investors and developers can now benefit from a range of incentives available in the Zone including, business rate rebates, disused space grants, capital grants and a flexible approach to planning. A number of large sites have been opened up across the city that presents good investment opportunities.

It is very much evident that the sustainability of the UK property market lies in continued overseas investment into the UK market. Recent reports show that property experts are optimistic about the future of the UK market as current statistics reveal that almost £5.8 billion was spent by foreign buyers on UK property outside of London. More interestingly, these figures have reached record levels comparable to last year’s figures. It is very common that overseas buyers continue to be tempted by the benefits of investing in bricks and mortar over here, in no small part because of the standardised market, times zone and culture, as well as the dependable legal system which all make for a secure and safe investment option.

There is one small shift, however: where the investment trends have been changed. Rising property prices have made central London too expensive and potential yields are not high enough to attract much interest from overseas buyers. This has led to an increasing interest in regions such as Bradford, where property, comparative to London, remains at very affordable levels. Furthermore, property investment potential for growth in the area looks set to be fuelled by a shortage of housing and a growing population created by strong economic growth. Planning records show that over 36 hectares of brownfield space is available for development and there are major opportunities for mixed-use developments.

The City Region’s financial and businesses services sector generates over £13 billion every year and is projected to grow by 51% between now and 2022, offering stable, secure investment opportunities. The City has over 250,000 people employed in the professional and financial services sector including 22,500 in legal services meaning businesses are able to source the best talent at competitive costs.  A number of major companies have their headquarters in the district including Morrisons, Yorkshire Building Society, Provident Financial and Hallmark Cards. Bradford is the home to the headquarters of companies more than any other northern city.

Bradford has the largest manufacturing employment base anywhere in the UK, providing 160,000 jobs including 47,000 in engineering alone. Key sub-sectors include textiles, electronics, printing, medical equipment, automotive engineering, and aerospace as well as energy components.

Statistics suggest, Bradford has 25,500 people employed in manufacturing, the 3rd highest of any city authority in the UK. Business growth in the city’s digital and creative industries has outstripped that of other UK core city regions. Bradford is a great northern city and an economy of significant scale.  It is a beautiful place, with a stunning architectural heritage, home to enterprise and creative people and strong and productive businesses.  It has a proud industrial heritage built by successful businesses which have engraved new ideas and technologies to the entrepreneurial energy of successive generations of people who have made the district their home. Bradford is the youngest city in the UK and is at the centre of the Northern Powerhouse. It is also one of the most internationally connected cities in the UK, globally linked by businesses trading across the world.


Bradford remains to be the UK’s fastest growing economy over the past decade, increasing the value of their economy by £4 billion, getting 20,000 more people into work and improving the skills of 48,000 residents. It has been done by prioritising actions that unlock four key opportunities which includes the emergence of young entrepreneur, the entrepreneurial opportunity prevalent in the area, the potential for growth and of course, the status of globally connected district. Bradford is reaping the benefits of increased foreign investment in the region. The majority of the investments made by Bradford-based companies were on expansion projects, for example Finnish-owned chemical company Kemira are expanding their facilities and creating jobs, having successfully applied for a government grant. The successes have been due in part to Bradford Council’s Business Investment and Enterprise Team. The team works with partners to attract investment projects and retain investors in the district. They offer valuable help, including advice on suitable premises, relocation, recruitment and skills and the availability of financial assistance.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council said, “This is fantastic news for the district and proves that Bradford has a place on the global map for businesses wanting to set up in the UK. We have the benefits of affordable properties and attractive locations. It is also great for our economy in creating hundreds of jobs for the district. Our Invest in Bradford Team is providing valuable support to help these businesses set up here”. Bradford has benefitted from a near 70 % cent rise in foreign investment into the region over the past year. The Bradford economy is set to grow by around 25 % over the next decade and will contribute 15.4 % of the total growth within the Leeds City Region to 2020.

Tourism supports more than 13,500 jobs and is now worth an estimated £656 million a year to the Bradford district’s economy. The findings by Bradford Council show an increase in year-on-year spending, driven by an increase in day trips and visits from overseas tourists. Total spending by visitors is said to be up by 10 % from 2015, with the number of tourism jobs up by 4 %. An estimated 2.25million visitor nights were spent in the district in 2016 as well as approximately 11.6 million day trips.

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Writer is Staff Reporter Mélange for Europe & Coordinator Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR).