A Snapshot of Foreign Direct Investment in Colchester Reveals an Interesting Picture

Aug 10, 2017International

Colchester has a thriving and diverse economy but it is important to understand its various characteristics in these changing times.  Colchester Borough Council recently worked in partnership with University of Essex Intern, Ken Lee, to produce a baseline position of FDI in Colchester so that comparisons can be made in future as the implications of Brexit unfold.

This research tells us that:


  • At least 50 business units were foreign owned in Colchester at the end of 2016( 7% of all business units in the Borough) 
  • Though small in number these businesses make a significant contribution to the Borough’s turnover – 38%, and they employ almost 10,000 people (11.2% of total employment)
  • The majority are long established businesses
  • At 60% the European Economic Area is the region with the largest number of foreign ownerships however:
    • the EU proportion of FDI owned companies represents 2% of employment – 1794 jobs and £463.6m of the Borough’s turnover (5.2%).
    • The non-EU proportion of FDI owned enterprises represents 9.2% of employment – 8128 jobs and £2946m of the Borough’s turnover (32.9%)
  • The top three countries owning Colchester companies were: Germany (40%), Ireland (19%) and Spain/Luxembourg (= 6%)
  • Middle sized companies rather than large or micro businesses are most common at 56% and these typically employ between 10-149 people
    • The sectors most represented by FDI are communications, arts and recreation closely followed by manufacturing. Communications, arts and manufacturing were identified as key sectors for future growth in Colchester’s Economic Growth Strategy 2015-21

Commenting on the report, Councillor Tim Young, Portfolio Holder for Business and Culture, said: “The report has been really useful in highlighting how important FDI is to Colchester’s economy in terms of jobs and turnover.  It was particularly interesting to see how Non-EU is more significant in terms of jobs and turnover than the EU. However, we absolutely appreciate how EU related products and services in Colchester businesses may well contribute to important supply chains elsewhere in the UK.  

  It is important to separate FDI from exporting which are not covered by this report.  Many British owned companies located in Colchester export successfully around the globe and employ many local people.  However, they are separate to foreign owned enterprises where company decisions are made overseas.


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