R&R Ice Cream chairman James Lambert

Want to start a successful business? Go North.

Figures suggest entrepreneur-led companies in the North of England achieved 24% growth in turnover in the past year, outstripping London and the South East.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 18 Oct 2013
London is a well known breeding ground for entrepreneurial actvity, but budding entrepreneurs might also want to turn their attention to the North.  The turnover of entrepreneur-led companies in the North of England grew 24% in the past year. That beats closest rivals London and the South, which recorded growth of 19%, Scotland’s 17.1% and the Midlands at 12%, according to an analysis of 128 businesses with a combined turnover of £7bn by Ernst and Young.

The figures supplied by finalists in EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year, split evenly across the UK, also suggest that business leaders in the North are the most optimistic about the economy, with 83% expecting a significant turnaround in the next few years. This compares to Scotland’s 43%, and London and the South’s figure of 36%.

And when it comes to job creation, Northern businesses also outstrip their southern counterparts. Entrepreneurs in the North increased job creation by 19.2% last year – double the Midlands figure of 9.2% and London and South’s 7.8%.  

One of the North’s biggest success stories is R&R Ice Cream, owner of the Fab, Skinny Cow and Kelly’s of Cornwall brands. Founded by James Lambert in 1985, the Yorkshire-based company has grown from a £250,000 turnover business to one with a pan-European workforce of nearly 3000 and a turnover approaching £750million. Lambert is credited with leading the industry and ‘even selling ice cream to Italy.’ Well, that’s one down from selling ice to Eskimos…

York-based Paver Shoes is also singled out as another success story.  Stuart Paver started out selling shoes in village halls more than 40 years ago. The business now has annual sales of more than £60m and is one of the fastest-growing retailers in India.

Earlier this year, former mill town Burnley was named by the government as Britain’s most enterprising place. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills praised Burnley’s ‘pioneering’ culture and economic prospects, singling out its Bondholders scheme, which brought together over 100 firms to promote the town as a place for business and has attracted £10m of investment.

Stuart Watson, EY Partner, said: ‘The impact on regional economies and confidence cannot be overstated, with entrepreneurs providing a major boost for local innovation, pride and job creation. Innovative and fast-growing businesses have helped the UK regions to become world players in many industries.’

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