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Joel Rodrigues: The Brexit business boom

Since the European Union Referendum in 2016, stories about companies leaving the UK have been commonplace in the media. These events are often reported in isolation, and important stories about companies moving to the UK, setting up new operations or expanding existing ones have not been so widely reported.

This is a part of ‘Project Fear’ – deliberately exacerbating bad news whilst good news gets quietly sidelined. It is important to remember that since the Brexit vote was delivered, the following two year period has brought levels of foreign investment in the UK that is higher than any other EU nation, along with near record levels of employment. Record levels of employment which represent jobs, companies and investment relocating to the UK rather than fleeing it.

I have collated just some of the good news stories here, specifically stories involving both small companies and large multinationals choosing to invest in new operations in the UK, or expanding existing operations. All stories span from June 2016 to March 2019, in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, and the list is by no means complete:

Aerospace:

  • Boeing announced over £20m of investment in February 2017, and opened it’s first European manufacturing plant in October 2018 in Sheffield (making parts for the 737 and 767, destined for export to the USA).
  • Meggitt PLC (an International aerospace and engineering group) announced plans to build a new £130m facility in November 2017, in the West Midlands.
  • GKN Aerospace announced in December 2018 that it was planning a new Global Technology Centre in Bristol, which is expected to open in 2020 and host over 300 engineers.
  • Spirit AeroSystems announced in July 2018 that it would build an R&D complex at its manufacturing site in Prestwick.

Automotive:

  • McLaren opened a new factory in Sheffield in November 2018, moving production of its carbon fibre chassis from Austria to the UK.
  • Toyota announced in March 2017 that it would invest £240m in its Burnaston manufacturing plant. In January 2019 it started building the Toyota Corolla at Burnaston.
  • Aston Martin started construction of a new plant at St Athan, Wales in December 2016. The £200m investment makes Wales the centre of the company’s SUV and electric car manufacturing operations, creating hundreds of new jobs.
  • The F1 team Racing Point announced in February 2019 that it was planning to build a new factory at its base near Silverstone. It has already purchased the land, and construction is in the planning stage.
  • Magna International (a supplier to Jaguar Land Rover) announced in October 2016 that it would build a new 225,000 sq ft manufacturing facility in Telford, creating 300 new jobs.
  • PSA Group announced in April 2018 that it would boost production at Vauxhall’s Luton plant, by also building Citroen and Peugeot vans there for the first time.

Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals:

  • Chemoxy announced a new ‘world leading’ £10m factory in Teeside in February 2019.
  • Croda (a FTSE100 chemicals manufacturer) announced plans to build a new £7m logistics facility in Goole, and an expansion of its Hull factory.
  • GSK opened a new £54m facility in Montrose, Scotland in October 2018, to manufacture ingredients for inhalers. In 2017, GSK opened a £44m vaccines facility, also in Montrose.
  • Ipsen Group announced £22m of investment at its site in Wrexham in November 2017, and the construction of a new HQ.
  • Ineos announced in February 2019 that it was investing up to £1bn in the UK. This included a £350m energy plant in Grangemouth, Scotland, a £150m chemicals plant in Hull, and £500m of upgrades to the Forties pipeline.

Clothing and Fashion:

  • VF Corp (owner of The North Face, Vans and Timberland) opened a new central London office in December 2018 to facilitate the expansion of its UK operations.
  • Chanel chose London for its global office in September 2018, as it acted to try and consolidate its worldwide operations.

Engineering:

  • Talgo, a Spanish train manufacturer, announced that it would build a manufacturing base in Scotland in November 2018, creating over 1,000 new jobs.
  • Siemens invested €39m in its Lincoln plant in November 2017, whilst simultaneously cutting investment across the rest of Europe.
  • Siemens announced plans in March 2018 to create a new £200m train manufacturing plant near Hull, creating over 700 jobs.
  • Edge Innovate announced £8m of investment to facilitate its expansion plans and a new factory in Northern Ireland, in February 2019.
  • CAF ( a Spanish train manufacturer) announced in July 2017 that it aimed to open a new £30m train manufacturing facility in Newport, Wales, creating over 300 new jobs.

Finance:

  • Ion Pacific (an Asian merchant bank) announced in August 2017 that it would expand into the European market for the first time, and chose London for its European HQ.
  • Orchard Global Asset Management announced in January 2019 that it was relocating its Singapore HQ to London.
  • Citigroup announced in February 2019 that it wished to purchase the £1.2bn office tower it occupies in Canary Wharf.
  • Goldman Sachs announced in February 2017 that it would build a new European HQ in London. The firm expects to start occupying it in 2019.

Food and Drink:

  • Starbucks announced restructuring of its European operations in October 2018, expanding its London HQ and closing its base in Amsterdam.
  • Diageo submitted plans in February 2019 to create a global visitor centre in Edinburgh for its whisky brand, Johnnie Walker. The £150m investment will generate up to 180 jobs. Diageo also has plans to invest £35m in opening distilleries at Port Ellen and Brora.
  • Hotpack Packaging set up its first European manufacturing base in November 2017, establishing its European HQ in Wrexham, north Wales.
  • Dairy Crest announced in May 2018 that it was expanding its cheese factory in Cornwall to boost production of exported goods to China.
  • Nestle announced in June 2018 that it would open a new £55m distribution centre in Leicestershire.

Infrastructure and Development:

  • The Port of Tilbury announced start of construction of Tilbury 2, a £200m investment in expanding the port’s operations and capacity.
  • ABP (a Chinese developer) started work on a £1.7bn development at Royal Albert Docks, East London in July 2017. The area is being turned into an international business centre, providing up to 30,000 jobs and up to £6bn to the local economy.

Media and Publishing:

  • Relx (a large publishing company) announced in February 2018 that it had chosen to structure itself under a single parent company headquartered in the UK, ending the Anglo-Dutch structure it had previously.
  • Bloomberg moved into their new European Headquarters in October 2017, with space for over 4,000 staff.

Technology:

  • Google started building its new £1bn London HQ in November 2017. It will eventually house over 7,000 employees.
  • Facebook announced in July 2018 that it was doubling its office space and leased new offices in Kings Cross, London, and continues to expand its workforce.
  • Apple announced in September 2016 that it would build a large headquarters in Battersea, London. The office would provide enough space to accommodate Apple’s UK expansion plans.
  • Amazon announced in July 2017 that it would significantly expand its UK headquarters. It planned to double R&D positions and create over 2,500 jobs in 2018.
  • Snap (the owner of the Snapchat app) set up its non-US international hub in London, in January 2017. Global sales will be booked in the UK for the first time, and it will pay UK taxes. Snap also increased the size of its London based workforce throughout 2017.
  • Dynex Semiconductor announced the establishment of a semiconductor R&D centre in the first half of 2018 in Birmingham, which is eventually expected to support 300 new jobs. Dynex and its parent company CRRC have also been investing up to £9m annually in their Lincolnshire plant.

Other Manufacturing:

  • Kohler Mira (an American kitchen/bathroom manufacturer) announced in February 2019 that it had started work on construction of a new £20m facility and factory in Worcestershire.
  • Reckitt Benckiser completed a new £105m research centre in Hull in August 2018.
  • Norbord (a Canadian wood panel manufacturer) announced in February 2019 that it was investing £35m in expanding its factory and operations in Inverness.
  • Tiger Trailers (a trailer and commercial body manufacturer) moved to a new £22m manufacturing facility in Winsford, allowing production to double and creating over 200 new jobs.
  • Progroup (a German cardboard manufacturer) announced in November 2018 that it was building a new cardboard manufacturing plant in Cheshire, representing £74m in investment.
  • Diodes Inc (an American manufacturer of application-specific products) announced in February 2019 that it would set up manufacturing operations for the first time in the UK, taking over a factory in Scotland representing £50m of investment.
  • HellermannTyton announced in December 2017 that it would build a new £7m factory in Plymouth.
  • Forterra announced in May 2018 that it would invest £95m in a new brick manufacturing plant in Leicestershire.

Joel Rodrigues is a geophysicist and blogger. Follow him on twitter: @JoelRodrigues

(For more from Joel Rodrigues, visit joelrwrites.wordpress.com)