article banner

Tou Ying Tracker 2021

Simon Bevan Simon Bevan

Chinese companies continue to make a significant contribution to the UK economy.

Now in its ninth year, the Tou Ying Tracker report, developed in collaboration with CCCUK (China Chamber of Commerce in the UK) and China Daily UK, confirms once again the growing contribution of Chinese companies to the UK economy.

This year, our annual survey of the latest trends in Chinese investment in the UK identifies over 845 Chinese companies that qualify for inclusion in our Tou Ying Tracker. Together, these companies have combined revenues of £63 billion (down from £92 billion for the 838 companies identified in 2020). They report overall revenue growth of 5% (down from 12% in 2020). Between them, these companies employ 60,945 people in the UK (down from more than 75,000 in Tou Ying Tracker 2020). Figures saw a slight dip due to a number of economic headwinds, including the COVID-19 pandemic and unresolved Brexit arrangements.

We celebrate the success of all companies appearing in this year’s Tou Ying Tracker and congratulate them on their outstanding contribution to the UK economy.


Tracker expands again

This is the fourth consecutive year of growth in the number of Chinese businesses in the Tou Ying Tracker. Economic uncertainty clearly saw Chinese businesses take a cautious approach to expansion during the year. At the same time, the many new entrants on the list of the 30 fastest-growing companies (by revenue) come from seven highly innovative sectors and show that Chinese companies in the UK are developing new revenue streams and connections rapidly.

Employment boosts regional economies

Chinese companies have created or supported almost 61,000 jobs in the UK. Of the total, almost 30% of total employees work in the North West and 20% work in London, although that city accounts for 80% of aggregate revenue. The other half work in the UK’s other regions, including the East of England, West Midlands, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The mid-market (£50 million - £1 billion) is where you find almost 70% of employees, though the sector represents only 10% of companies.

Challenges for Chinese investors

For UK businesses embarking on a new relationship with Chinese investors, it can also be useful to understand some of the challenges they may be facing. These include:

  • complex geopolitical dynamics
  • high compliance and regulatory costs
  • establishing a bilingual workforce
  • building trust
  • integrating business cultures
  • high employment costs
  • economic and finance challenges.

Optimism for future

The UK and China can feel confident about the prospects for trade and investment between the two nations in 2022 and beyond, not least because the long-term outlook for life with COVID-19 will become more deep-rooted and certain. Both will be focused on domestic policies, such as "common prosperity" and "dual circulation" in China, and levelling up in the UK, but they also intend to look outward.

Download the report [ 3283 kb ]

For further information or advice, contact Simon Bevan or Ian Zhu.

Get the latest insights, events and guidance for Chinese businesses in the UK, straight to your inbox.