Top Brexit cities: key locations for businesses to watch out for

Ongoing uncertainty makes it increasingly difficult to predict what the UK business ecosystem will look like or which cities will thrive post-Brexit. Despite this, business owners are keeping their eyes open for new opportunities both locally and abroad while negotiations draw on.
In a recent survey of over 1000 UK business owners conducted by Instant Offices, 25% say their top priority in the next 12 months is to identify new opportunities in the UK, with 15% looking to new opportunities in the EU and 13% focused on countries outside of the EU. With the results in mind, Instant investigated which top cities in the UK and Europe are frontrunners for businesses seeking new opportunities post-Brexit.
Employment growth set to increase in outer London boroughs
According to Brexit Ready by Irwin Mitchell, by Q3 in 2019 the report forecasts that outer London boroughs are set to perform well in terms of employment growth as more businesses move out of the city and into more affordable areas. One of the major advantages of these outer cities is the availability of office space, and the 2018 Flexible Workspace UK Market Summary showed explosive growth in various UK regions.
With high GVA and employment growth, these locations are the top contenders:

Fastest growing (highest GVA)

Fastest employment growth

Cambridge Exeter


Oxford Oxford
Ipswich Stroke-on-Trent
Milton Keynes Bournemouth

While London remains the focal point of the UK’s flexible workspace industry, growth outside of the capital has seen the number of enquiries and deals increase over the last few years. The city saw a nine per cent increase in the supply of office space compared to Greater London at 12%.
In regional hubs like Manchester and Leeds, activity remains strongest. At around £690 per desk in the capital compared to £350 in Oxford, £261 in Leeds and £287 in Manchester, London’s outer cities are an attractive location for businesses looking to sample new markets without the added pressure of a conventional lease.
Top Brexit cities outside the UK
New figures from the Institute of Directors shows that nearly a third of firms are looking overseas due to Brexit, with 16% having already started relocation plans.
Measuring factors such as corporation tax, number of co-working spaces, exporting costs and more, Startups researched the top European cities for start-ups to launch after Brexit.
While London is the EU’s premiere financial centre, the impact of withdrawal has led to widespread speculation around which cities have the potential to become a replacement. According to a report by the University of Sheffield, while no city is ready to offer a base comparable to London, three cities stand out.

Top EU cities for start-ups

Most potential EU financial centres

Budapest Frankfurt
Prague Paris
Lisbon Dublin
  • Budapest: the Hungarian capital ranks first for faster exports and a smaller time difference to the UK, as well as access to office space and lower living costs.
  • Prague: the capital of the Czech Republic ranks second for its free exports, short flight times to and from the UK and low living costs.
  • Lisbon: Portugal’s largest city is highly recommended for business post-Brexit due to its abundance of co-working spaces, zero time difference to the UK and fast export infrastructure.
  • Frankfurt: Ranked as the EU’s second most competitive financial centre after London and near the European Central Bank, Frankfurt is a rapidly growing fintech hub and a key centre of innovation.
  • Paris: A major financial centre with increasing fintech investment puts Paris on track to become one of the leading fintech centres in Europe.
  • Dublin: Already home to major digital tech companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, major financial firms are now looking to relocate to Dublin. With fintech investment in the Irish capital just slightly behind the UK, the city has become a major contender.

Rival cities would need to meet exceptionally specific criteria to compete. Just a few include the ability to attract a global workforce, excellent transport and communications infrastructure, access to prime office space and housing, and a variety of cultural and lifestyle aspects.
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