Sunderland is one of the best cities in the UK in which to start a business, according to Barclays’ SME Growth Factors Index.
Sunderland, which was found to boast some of the best growth environments for small businesses to flourish, ranked seventh and was the only North East city in the top ten.
The Index, created by Barclays Business Banking, reflects the strength of 12 key growth factors such as business rate relief, infrastructure, broadband speed and labour productivity, which are essential to boosting business productivity and growth.
Analysing the 20 largest cities by population size across the UK, the index ranks each city based on the strength of each factor.
Sunderland was ranked seventh overall, reflecting high rankings for job vacancies (third ranking), business survival rate (third ranking), and broadband speed (joint third ranking).
Bradford was ranked highest overall, with the best business rate relief, road infrastructure, number of job vacancies, cost of commercial rent, and business survival rate.
Leicester featured in second place thanks to its strong business survival rate, distance travelled to work and level of business rate relief. Coventry came in third place, with the highest net migration into the city.
Additional Barclays analysis reveals London, Birmingham and Leeds – areas with the highest populations – have seen the highest number of business start-ups over the last six years. In the capital, almost 577,000 start-up businesses have launched since 2012, while Birmingham has seen 45,000 new businesses, and there have been 26,400 in Leeds.
Yet when it comes to the strength of the growth factors in these cities, the results are less positive. London gives out some of the smallest amounts of business rate relief and has the highest commercial rent costs, appearing 12th on the overall list of 20 cities.
Similarly, Birmingham features in 11th place, let down by its road infrastructure and poor quality of life, while Leeds ranks in 18th place, also as a result of its poor road infrastructure.
In comparison, just 16,800 of businesses have started in Bradford since 2012, 13,200 in Coventry, and 15,300 in Leicester – yet they have the strongest growth factors which are key to business productivity and growth.
Andrew Lawrence, Head of SME for the North East at Barclays Business Banking, commented: “It’s really encouraging to see that so many areas offering growth potential are outside of London and the South East, particularly with Sunderland ranking in the top ten cities across the UK. “We undertook this study because we support small companies right across the country, and are keen to help more people start and grow businesses wherever opportunities exist. Entrepreneurs do need to consider the market for their particular company, but an environment that supports growth can make a real difference. The growth factors identified by the research can become even more valuable when small companies start looking to scale up and grow, which is something we particularly encourage.”