BRADFORD has been named the best place in the country to start a new business.

Research by Barclays found the district is the top location for people to launch small and medium sized companies (SMEs) and has the conditions to help businesses thrive.

In its newly-published SME Growth Factors Index, the bank used 12 ‘key’ measures and found that Bradford took first place in four of those categories, thereby coming out top overall.

The district was first on the list for offering the best business rate relief, road infrastructure, number of job vacancies and value for money for renting commercial space.

Nick Garthwaite, president of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is great news for Bradford and reflects the hard work of organisations across the district who provide advice and guidance to those looking to start and grow businesses in the area.

“The council also has also played an important role providing business rates relief and listening to the business voice. Indeed, the chamber is currently working with the council on the production of the city’s ‘Inclusive Growth Strategy’ which sets out ambitious plans to create the environment for even more businesses to locate, grow and scale up.”

Barclays compared the UK’s 20 largest cities as part of the research, with Bradford beating Leicester, Coventry, Edinburgh and Liverpool to the top spot. Data was collected on growth factors such as broadband speed, the number of skilled workers and the proportion of businesses who survive past their first year.

In total, 16,800 companies have started in Bradford since 2012. Despite the favourable conditions outlined in the Barclays report, that number was lower than the amount of start-ups launched in Leeds, London and Birmingham in the past six years.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, portfolio holder for regeneration, planning and transport, said: “This is great news and reflects the hard work the council has put into creating the right business environment. Our award-winning City Centre Growth Scheme is recognised as the best rate relief scheme in the country, has supported over 220 companies with business rate rebates and capital grants, and has encouraged 45 new business start-ups.

“The council will continue to support the area’s strong entrepreneurial culture and next year will launch new schemes to roll out enterprise support and rate relief across our district.”

While London, Birmingham and Leeds were named as the cities with the highest number of new start-ups during the past six years, they fell down the rankings to 12th, 11th and 18th place respectively.

Caroline Pullich, head of SME for Yorkshire at Barclays Business Banking, said: “It’s really encouraging to see that so many areas offering growth potential are outside of London and the south east, particularly with Bradford ranking as the top city 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.

“We’re committed to investing in Bradford’s SMEs and entrepreneurs, evidenced through our recent ‘Invest in Bradford’ business round table events with local key business people.

“Entrepreneurs do need to consider the market for their particular company but an environment that supports growth can make a real difference.”

Meanwhile, plans for a Bradford Business Improvement District (BID) took a step forward in December after the results of a feasibility study were published. The BID would develop projects and services which benefit businesses in the city. Recommendations from the Bradford team include working to reduce the number of empty shops, encouraging investment and marketing the city to a wider audience.


New business owner Ben Green says it is thanks to Bradford Council’s business rate relief scheme that he has been able to grow his steel fabrication company, Iron Octopus, over the past two years.

The award-winning Baildon firm now employs five people and Mr Green has plans to expand the company in 2018 by launching Polpo Ferro, which will sell a range of retro furniture.

Ben said: “The rate relief really makes a big difference when you are starting out because it’s quite a large expense.

“The money we saved has allowed us to take on a unit next door and two new staff from the community.

“Our growth also helps other Bradford businesses grow because we buy supplies from local companies.”

Mr Green and his team are now working with national brands and recently built a Prosecco bar for House of Fraser on Oxford Street in London as well as completing projects for construction firms. He added: “We are definitely pleased we took the leap to start our own business. It is daunting at times.

“We were hoping to reach £300,000 turnover this year and we have already achieved that.

“The support from the Council and other organisations has certainly helped us get where we are today.”