Bristol is among the UK’s top cities outside London for foreign investment, despite the wider South West seeing its biggest fall in five years.
The city attracted half of all direct investment (FDI) projects in the region last year (15) – up from just five per cent in 1997 – according to the EY 2020 UK Attractiveness Survey.
It was the seventh-best performing location in Britain, with Manchester taking the top spot, followed by Birmingham and Glasgow.
However, the West of England as a whole saw a 14 per per cent decline in FDI projects in 2019 (30) – down from 35 in 2018 – the lowest recorded since 2014.
The largest proportion of investment (33 per cent) came from the US, followed by France (27 per cent), with the region attracting five more French projects in 2019 compared to 2018.
The largest number of FDI projects was in the business services sector (seven) – up from four the year previously.
There were also four projects in the digital sector – the lowest number in the industry since 2013 – and three projects each in the machinery and equipment, and transport manufacturing sectors.
Foreign direct investment projects outside London
Andrew Perkins, EY’s managing partner in the South West & Wales, said: “Whilst it’s great to see Bristol had a strong year in attracting foreign investment, it is important to see other locations in the South West receiving projects if economic ‘levelling up’ is to be shared equally.
“Looking forwards, the business community in the South West will be keeping a keen eye on the path to regional economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The impact on the region’s tourism and hospitality in particular is being felt all too acutely and continuing to attract investment from overseas will become ever more important.”
Nationally, the share of FDI going to the capital cities in England, Scotland and Wales, and other ‘core cities’ in the UK, has increased from 31 per cent of the total in 1997 to 67 per cent in 2019, according to additional research for EY by independent research organisation Centre For Towns.
“We are still worried that investment is concentrating in London and our core cities,” said Ian Warren, director of Centre For Towns.
“Our coastal towns in particular have seen their levels of investment plummet over the last two decades, and in the last two years the number of FDI projects has halved in our university towns.”
The UK also missed out on first place in the European rankings for total inbound foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in 2019.
It is the first time the UK hasn’t occupied top spot since the survey started in 1997.
The UK, which had 1,109 projects in total in 2019, now sits second behind France (1,197 projects). Meanwhile, Germany is ranked in third place with 971 projects.