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Leeds is big on business. It may be smaller than some other UK cities, but it certainly packs a punch when it comes to commerce.

Leeds is one of the biggest players in the Northern powerhouse and the most diverse UK urban economy in terms of its business mix. The city has one of the highest equal ratios between public and private sector employment and also one of the highest employed population figures in the country of 500,000 of its citizens in work.

There are over 1.4 million skilled people and 109,000 businesses in the Leeds City Region, Leeds has the largest regional economy outside of London.

Sector strengths

Renowned as the UK’s leading centre for financial and professional services outside of London, values at £2.1 billion with more than 30 national and international banks located in the city.

Other key sectors include manufacturing accounting for 8.8% of the overall Leeds economy spread across some 1800 companies accounting for 39,000 employees.

More recent development has seen the rapid growth in advanced manufacturing, R&D and product development capabilities, generating more than £7 billion a year.

The Leeds City Region has the largest number of universities outside of the capital, showing the bond between higher education and successful business including Leeds Beckett, Leeds University, Leeds Arts University, Leeds Trinity University and Leeds Conservatoire, who between them employ 25,000 people.

Leeds City Region is also home to an internationally-recognised healthcare and innovation ecosystem, with four out of five NHS national offices and some of the world’s largest healthcare data platforms based in Leeds, alongside world-leading life sciences clusters of academic excellence and commercial innovation including the UK headquarters for NHS Digital.


  1. Healthcare and Innovation

An economic powerhouse with global reach, Leeds City Region is the UK’s leading centre for healthcare and innovation, and an international leader in commissioning and delivering integrated health and social care services delivering £2.5 billion into the regional economy.

  1. Manufacturing

Leeds City Region is best placed to address the challenges for the future of manufacturing and provides the perfect location for companies looking to grow, innovate and improve efficiency. Still one of the heartlands of traditional engineering components in the UK, Leeds’ manufacturing output goes on to build major infrastructure projects across the world. Global organisations have a home in Leeds such as Arup, Buro Happold and Mott Macdonald.

  1. Financial and Professional Services

As the UK’s second largest regional economy and the leading centre for financial services outside of London, Leeds City Region is a prime location for financial and professional services, generating a staggering GVA of £2 billion per year.

  1. Digital Technologies

Combining creative media, data analytics, cyber security, FinTech, telecoms, health and education technologies, Leeds City Region is a fast-emerging digital powerhouse. With the rapid growth Leeds now accounts for 25 of the top ranked 100 new tech companies in the UK, including Crisp, Chameleon Technology, Vapour Cloud and many, many more.


The Big names

Leeds is awash with household names and big brands who all call this city their home.

It’s worth remembering the city has historically brought mega brands to the world for centuries including Marks & Spencers which started in the Kirkgate Market in the 1880’s; Waddingtons Games, invented the world’s first steam locomotive (in 1816); Asda was founded in Leeds and is still home to its national HQ. The world’s first internet browser product was invented in Leeds called Freeserve in 1998 and the global computer game giant Rockstar games started in Leeds and still calls the city home. Quite a line-up!

And if that wasn’t enough from the past, here’s how mighty the city’s line-up is now:

Direct Line is one of the big names in Insurance. It has a call centre on the Headrow.

Burberry has its head office on Queen Street right in the heart of the business district.

KPMG has a base in Leeds, one of their largest offices outside of London, employing 400 people. For Professional Services, PWC is household name. It has offices in 157 countries and employs more than 276,000 people. Leeds is home to one of their largest UK sites on Wellington Street employing 350 staff.

For Law, Addleshaw Goddard LLP is one of the most established firms in the UK, dating back to 1775. It has offices across Asia, GCC, and Europe including Leeds.

Established in 1912, Irwin Mitchell has offices in major cities throughout the UK. Found on Wellington Street close to the station, Irwin Mitchell is the 11th largest law firm in the UK with one of the biggest Private Wealth teams in the country.

In the technology and telecommunications sectors, BT and Sky digital & Sky-bet both calling Leeds their home. Sky digital relocated from London in 2016 to a new UK head office based on Leeds Dock and Sky-bet on Wellington Place.

New to Leeds

Channel 4 relocated their London HQ to the Majestic building on City Square in 2019, bringing with them a host of production companies who make programmes for them including the renowned Talkback productions.

Business districts

The city welcomes businesses of all sizes.

New start-ups have a massive choice of co-working and shared spaces. Leeds has an array of modern spaces and renovated industrial buildings harking back to roots as a mill town.

Established firms have flourished in Grade A office spaces across Leeds. Global brands relocate here to nestle among other big hitters in industry.

Leeds Dock

Leeds Dock is home to Sky’s Digital & Technology Services Campus spread over has three dock side buildings, which are home to 650 members of staff focused on software and hardware development, including their world-leading Software Engineering Academy. It is also proud to be home of eleven digital and tech companies, as well as Sky’s Digital HQ, whose building won the 2017 British Council for Offices Award for Innovation.

Leeds Dock has over 1,800 residents, an on-site workforce in excess of 2,000, and work closely with key stakeholders and cultural partners such as the Lumen Prize, Light Night and the Royal Armouries to provide a programme of cultural events and activity across the estate and throughout the city.

Financial Quarter

From Park Row to The Headrow and Wellington Street, the Financial Quarter is the location of many of the world’s biggest firms.

The area includes the buildings for Aviva, Zurich Financial Services, Leeds Building Society, Lloyds TSB, Yorkshire Bank, and The Bank of England, with Yorkshire Bank on Merrion street.

Commercial retail district

Leeds is the 3rd largest retail destination in the UK outside of London. The range of shopping facilities, from individual one-off boutiques to large department stores such as Harvey Nichols and Louis Vuitton outlets, has greatly expanded the Leeds retail base. The Victoria Quarter, originally opened in 1903 contains arcades connected together by stained glass roofing and is the largest, single, operational set of Edwardian arcades outside London.

Located between the main shopping street of Briggate, and Vicar Lane to the east, Victoria Quarter is a ‘must see’ retail destination in the city, including major brands like Vivienne Westwood, Louis Vuitton, Ted Baker, Reiss and Hugo Boss to name but a few!!

In October 2016 Leeds’ newest shopping centre Victoria Gate opened, bringing a flagship John Lewis store to the city, along with a variety of luxury brands.

In addition to the Victoria Quarter arcades, Leeds features several more stunning Victorian arcades, each with their own original features and unique charm: Thornton’s Arcade, Queens Arcade, Grand Arcade and Central Arcade.

Other popular shopping attractions include Leeds Kirkgate Market (founding place of the first Marks & Spencer and one of the largest indoor markets in Europe), Trinity Leeds, The Light, St John’s Centre, The Merrion Centre and the historically significant and epic Corn Exchange, combine to deliver the total shopping experience whatever your preference.

To develop and continue to grow into one of the leading  UK retail destinations Leeds has seen £1 billion investment in this sector over the last decade and that is set to continue in the years ahead.

Transport links

Originally dubbed the UK’s first ‘motorway city’ in the mid 1950’s, Leeds was one of the first urban centres to rapidly development its road system and network as the UK saw the first wave of growth in private car ownership and expansion. Now Leeds is leading the way in carbon neutral targets across the country and showing, once again, it is a true transport innovator. The £1.6 billion investment currently underway to transform Leeds’ station, one of the largest and boldest cycling schemes in the UK and massive pedestrianisation projects in any urban location, all bear testimony to Leeds environmental commitment for the future of how we all move about.

Leeds is situated in the centre of the north, on the M1, the M62 and the A1(M) motorway which all inter-connect with cities to the north, south, east and west.

Leeds railway station is one of Network Rail’s 20 principal stations and has rail links to London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh and other major cities.

The station is the busiest rail station in the North of England, with 31 million passengers passing through annually, putting it on a par with London King’s Cross.

City leadership is in advanced development with Government to bring a radical new mass transit system to Leeds which will harness the latest tram technology, surpassing any of the current infrastructure currently operating in the UK.

Leeds is served by Leeds Bradford Airport, with connections to most major European cities. Air connections to Heathrow (British Airways) and Amsterdam (KLM & are available. The airport proactively expanded in 2018 to include a special British Airways fast-transit area enabling significant growth in UK domestic business travel from London.



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