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28 Nov 2017

We catch up with Jennie Frost, Business Development Manager of Inward Investment, about the north shoring trend and why investors find the right balance of benefits in Leeds City Region.  

 

What is the north shoring trend and what can Leeds City Region offer businesses considering this?

North shoring relates to companies based in London or the South East who are seeking more efficient business models by relocating all or part of their operations to the North. This works particularly well in Leeds City Region as our financial and professional services eco-system is complementary to that of the City of London.  When an international businesses is based in Leeds City Region, they have the flexibility to maximise their UK footprint cost effectively, whilst not compromising on the quality of talent they can access the North.  

I find it’s well known that Leeds is a regional hub offering experienced, qualified talent across banking, law, insurance and wider financial services with the ability to undertake complex work. However, we are also well placed to relieve the financial pressures of locating middle and back office roles in the capital because we have an excellent talent pool of graduates and experienced hires suitable for operating shared services and centres of excellence efficiently.   

It’s clear that north shoring to Leeds City Region is preferable to off-shoring as it offers a lower risk, less time intensive solution when the challenges of geography, time zones, wage arbitration and different regulatory jurisdictions are taken into consideration.

Describe the banking heritage here in the region

Our strong tradition in banking stretches back to the early 19th century and is built on the wealth and business demand generated from the textile and manufacturing industries of Victorian northern England and the needs of its growing workforce.

As a result, the region is home to three of the UK’s top five largest building societies (Yorkshire, Leeds and Skipton) and is also home to the headquarters of Yorkshire Bank and a significant presence by Lloyds Banking Group – Europe’s largest digital bank, due to the legacy of Halifax and HBOS operations based here.

Why is there a fintech cluster in the Leeds City Region?

Fintech and innovative technology are not new to the banking sector, but the pace of digital change, particularly since the global banking crisis, has increased. Leeds City Region is well placed to meet the challenges banks face in transforming their operations digitally.

Well established players such as BJSS, formed in Leeds over twenty years ago, now provide the software platforms that drive foreign exchange transactions globally.  IBM has a cohort of their leading engineers based here. Alongside this we have great specialisms in payment processing TSYS the credit card processor is based in North Yorkshire, Worldpay’s online payment processing centre is in Harrogate and ACI Worldwide is in Leeds.  

Who has recently invested in the region and why did they choose here?

There is a real momentum in Leeds City Region with some great success stories. Law firm Shoosmiths are opening a new office in Platform, an exciting new development that is home to Leeds Digital Hub and located above Leeds train station – one of the UK’s busiest outside of London.  US law firm Squire Patton Boggs has expanded into new Grade A offices in the West End district of the city which is currently undergoing significant transformation to meet growing demand.

The financial services sector has continued to grow.  Callcredit, Lowell Group and Santander have increased their workforces here with Leeds showing the fastest private sector growth in the UK.

Insurer Hiscox are now settled in their bespoke offices in York whilst Covea have also boosted their insurance workforce in Halifax to around 800.

Investors I’ve worked with tell me they to choose to invest here because of the strong graduate talent pipeline that draws on students from nine universities, producing almost 40,000 graduates annually. We also have a fast growing young population of digital natives with the tech skills companies crave, alongside quality, experienced talent. Combined with the great lifestyle on offer, Leeds City Region is a sustainable, low risk option for business and an attractive one to employees and their families.

What are the most exciting developments in the region and why?

The Leeds skyline is constantly changing, and is home to a number of exciting Grade A office developments including Wellington Place, Central Square, Leeds Dock and Sovereign Square.

Out of town, Thorpe Park, White Rose Office Park and Kirkstall Forge offer well connected communities. Kirkstall Forge is one of the few in the UK to gain Platinum accreditation by digital connectivity rating company WiredScore, placing it alongside an elite club of premium quality buildings including the Empire State Building and The Shard.

Exciting plans for the development at York Central, adjacent to the East Coast Mainline, continue to progress offering a gateway opportunity in a sought after location. There continues to be strong demand for unique converted workspaces within iconic heritage mills such as Dean Clough in Halifax, which is a key location for RSA Covea, Handelsbanken and Computershare.

There is a lot to look forward to, particularly the transformation of Leeds City Station in anticipation of HS2 and the wider Southbank development which will be one of the largest regenerations schemes in Europe at 253 hectares. It sets the tone for the scale of ambition and opportunity here.

 

For a confidential conversation about how the Inward Investment team could help you, please contact us here.