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Leeds City Region confirms financial and professional services strength as commitment soars

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24 Nov 2016

A host of national and international firms in the financial and professional services sector are in ‘advanced talks’ to launch major operations in the Leeds City Region.

The interest in the UK’s second largest economy and financial centre outside London comes as research by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) reveals that more than 500,000 sq ft – the equivalent of almost ten football pitches - of office space has been taken-up across Leeds and the wider City Region alone in 2016.

This demand – driven by factors including north-shoring, the City Region’s data analytics and financial technology capabilities, cost effectiveness and talent recruitment - is fuelling significant office development activity and investment as the Leeds City Region prepares for a further influx of legal, banking, insurance and financial heavyweights.

With millions of pounds having been invested by the financial and professional services sector into the Leeds City Region over the past 12 months, there has been a positive knock-on effect on job creation, the LEP said.

Firms including Covea, HSBC, Hiscox, Provident Financial, PwC, KPMG, Addleshaw Goddard, Squire Patton Boggs, Ward Hadaway, Equifax, Gateley and Shulmans have all reinvested and expanded their operations in the Leeds City Region so far this year.

International law firm Shoosmiths is also preparing to open its first office, at Bruntwood’s Platform redevelopment in the City Region, with Leeds’s position as one of the largest legal markets outside London a key reason behind the move.

Roger Marsh, Chair of the LEP, said Leeds City Region was “an undisputed centre of excellence” for the financial and professional services sector with enquiries and property requirements in “business as usual mode” following the EU referendum.

He said: “The continued confidence and commitment of major firms to the Leeds City Region, along with a flow of new enquiries from the sector, highlights how Leeds City Region’s environment, including the availability of talent and market access, offer an attractive proposition to the industry.

“Our well-established clusters of high quality financial and professional services firms make our City Region an exciting location for businesses in this sector and showcases how our City Region is a world class destination for investment, from both the UK and overseas, with many international brands seriously considering this location to establish extensive operations.”

“Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership is excited to be working with the private sector to shine a spotlight upon our unrivalled financial and professional services sector,” continued Mr Marsh.

“In the wake of the EU referendum, it is evident that an increased focus on private and public sector partnerships across Leeds City Region is bearing fruit, resulting in increased investment activity and accelerated economic growth in key sectors, including financial and professional services. 

“The recent spate of investments by professional services firms in the region including PwC in Central Square, KPMG and Addleshaw Goddard on Sovereign Square, and Squire Patton Boggs, Shulmans LLP and Ward Hadaway in Wellington Place, further bolster our region’s position as a centre of excellence for the sector, something Government recognised earlier this year.”

Tim Wheldon, head of the Leeds office at Addleshaw Goddard, said: “Leeds is a city that is open for business – with a growing digital economy, continued foreign investment, especially through the cities growing links with China and as the second city for financial services, it's no surprise that the region continues to grow and prosper.

“The city’s access to talent and skills, innovation and collaboration between the public and private sector is what sets us apart. With a £13bn pipeline of work outlined in the construction and infrastructure sectors alone it's easy to see why new entrants are being driven to the market and why Leeds is positioning itself as a key legal hub outside of London.

“The Leeds legal market continues to thrive and remain competitive. One of the strengths of Leeds law firms is their concentration of resource and talent, lending significant credibility to the sector, allowing it to continue to grow and develop and helping to further raise the profile of a profession which is largely unrecognised as a driver of the city's economic growth."

James Dipple, chief executive of MEPC, said the attractions of the development of Wellington Place scheme in Leeds was evidenced by the growing levels of occupier demand and confidence in the market from companies in the high technology, financial and professional services sectors.

Mr Dipple said: "Working in partnership with Hermes Investment Management and CPPIB on our development in Leeds, is a further demonstration of how there is a real buzz in the City Region, driven by the ability of companies to locate here in a modern environment where they can retain and recruit the best staff and impress their clients and business partners. Leeds offers high quality floor space, a vibrant residential and commercial market and makes a compelling case for businesses to locate here when coupled with great value for money.

"The Wellington Place project is a major regeneration success story that not only provides businesses within the Leeds City Region with the space they require to grow further but also helps to attract new names to the city and region."