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Chinese companies continue to drive impressive growth

The sixth edition of the Grant Thornton UK LLP Tou Ying Tracker, which identifies the fastest-growing Chinese companies in the UK, finds that they continue to make an important contribution to the UK economy. Last year the top 30 fastest-growing companies employed more than 3,500 people, had an average growth rate of 66% and recorded a combined turnover of £43 billion.

The report, developed in collaboration with China Daily, analyses data from the 750 largest Chinese companies in the UK, providing an overview of the complete landscape of Chinese investment into the UK and revealing distinct patterns of employment and growth. It also identifies the 30 fastest growing companies, as measured by percentage revenue growth in the last year.

Chinese investment in the UK

In 2018, the 750 largest Chinese companies in the UK recorded an average revenue growth of 11.6%, employed 80,000 people and recorded a combined turnover of £68 billion.

Amongst the 750 largest companies, the sector that saw the biggest revenue growth was financial services (30%). This was followed by manufacturing and industrial (15.4%) and business support services (14.5%).

Almost half of the 750 companies analysed were based in London (332). The North and Midlands was the next most common region with 174 companies, followed by the South (122), Central (105) and Scotland and Northern Ireland (17).

Simon Bevan, Head of the China Britain Services Group at Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented: “Despite the backdrop of falling global investment from China recently, and continued uncertainty around what form Brexit will take, the UK clearly remains an attractive destination for Chinese investors, with the level of investment into the UK increasing to £88.4bn during 2017. Factors such as a stable political system, London’s world-leading financial centre, excellent schools and the opportunity to do business in English all continue to exert a powerful pull. There are now over 100,000 university students here from the Chinese mainland – some of which will stay and make a long term contribution to the UK’s relationship with China.

“The Chinese government continue to show a positive stance towards the UK and many Chinese investors have taken advantage of the fall in the value of the sterling to snap up a range of UK assets at reduced prices. In London, Chinese investors can also access world-class professional services and find advisers with extensive experience of advising on Belt and Road investments.”

Tou Ying tracker 2018

This year’s tracker finds that the 30 fastest growing Chinese companies in the UK in 2018 recorded an average revenue growth of 66%, a combined turnover of £43 billion and employed 3,500 people.

The manufacturing and industrial sector dominated the tracker, with 13 companies listed. Technology, media and telecoms (9) was the next most popular sector, followed by financial services (4).

London was the most common region, home to 13 of the 30 fastest growing companies, closely followed by the North and Midlands (9) and Central and the South (both with 4).

Simon Bevan added: “Our research shows that Chinese investors continue to look overseas to achieve their growth ambition. They are investing enthusiastically in a number of key sectors in the UK and are growing at impressive rates.

“To thrive as employers in the UK, Chinese businesses must operate in the context of a workplace culture and a compliance regime that is very different from China’s own. The fastest-growing companies are clearly meeting the challenge as they bring their distinctive energy to their UK investments.”