Greater Birmingham leads British regions for foreign investment

Investment led by advanced manufacturing and financial & professional services firms.

More foreign businesses invested in Greater Birmingham & Solihull in 2014/15 than any other LEP region, according to UK Trade & Investment’s latest figures released today .

The Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP area attracted 73 new FDI projects, 9% more than the next highest LEP. Investors included world-famous brands such as Jaguar Land Rover, KPMG, Virgin Media and Amazon.

Foreign investment into the GBSLEP area created and safeguarded a total of 6,104 jobs; nearly 1,800 more than any other UK LEP. This comprised 4,739 new jobs – 1,634 (53%) higher than the second ranked LEP – and 1,365 safeguarded roles.

US firms were the most prominent investors, accounting for 22% of all projects. Hydraulics manufacturer HydraForce, which is moving to Birmingham’s Advanced Manufacturing Hub, and Virgin Media, which recently expanded in the city, were among the biggest investments.

While Birmingham was responsible for 66% of all projects with a record high of 48, Solihull attracted a 15% share with eleven investments – including IT firm Pomeroy and further expansion at automotive manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover.

Incoming firms have cited Greater Birmingham’s transport links, affordable space and strong talent pool as major draws. The region has been transformed in recent years, attracting firms from a range of different sectors.

Overseas investment was primarily driven by advanced manufacturing, which represented 40% of all projects, followed by business, professional and financial services with 30% and IT and digital, with 15%. All three sectors have been heavily targeted as part of the region’s strategy to diversify its economy and create the greatest employment opportunities for the local workforce.

The automotive industry was responsible for 51% of all manufacturing investments into the GBSLEP. This included Indian firm Amtek Auto Group building a £5 million facility in Kidderminster and creating 100 jobs – and the expansion of Spanish-owned Maier UK in Burntwood, Staffordshire.

Big Four accountancy firm KMPG, which is headquartered in the Netherlands, created 50 new jobs in Birmingham’s business district last year, citing its large talent pool and location as important factors behind its appeal to big international firms. BPFS has also attracted major domestic investment into the region, with HSBC recently announcing that its new ring-fenced bank and 1,000 roles will be moving to Birmingham. BPFS was responsible for 22 investments this year, compared with 16 in 2013/14.

Significant investment from tech and creative firms reflects the region’s emergence as a hub for nimble high-tech firms. Retail giant Amazon has expanded in Rugeley, Staffordshire, while fellow US firm Uber recently set up an office in Birmingham, citing demand for local graduates and the burgeoning young professional community as major reasons for investing in the region.