The UK has been rated as the most attractive country for international investment over the last decade according to a report from Ernst and Young.
The study, compiled by the global business consultancy firm, has shown that over a ten years period, the UK has benefited from 5,539 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects. Last year alone nearly 300 projects from US firms bolstered the UK economy - helping to push up its market share from 17% to 18%. The UK and France remain the top two destinations for FDI with a fifth of the total number of projects directed towards the UK while France attracted 16% of projects. However, Germany remained in third place with 8% of investment. Newcomer, Romania, ranked seventh and experienced the highest growth in the number of projects from 86 in 2005 to 140 last year.
At a time when the international monetary markets have been under scrutiny following the US sub prime mortgage crisis, it appears that investors are not being deterred. Trevor Williams, Chief Economist at Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets, comments: “Since the US Fed cut interest rates, investor confidence in the prospects for the corporate sector has soared, as reflected in stock market rallies. In the UK, official data suggest that the majority of the corporate sector will perform strongly this year in terms of output growth and profit.”
The report comes as several large British corporations prepare to make their mark on the international market. Supermarket giant Tesco last week celebrated the launch of the first of its 250 stores planned for the coming year with an estimated cost of around £250 million per annum. The ‘Fresh and Easy’ brand of US Tesco shops will be spread across the south west of America in California, Nevada and Arizona. Sir Terry Leahy CEO has said the US business could eventually equal its £16.7 billion UK sales while Tesco’s international businesses in Europe and Asia produced $11 billion (£5.3 billion) in sales last year.
Following the trend is Marks and Spencer, which has developed grand plans to boost its international profile. Sir Richard Greenbury has announced an ambitious £2 billions expansion program that will see stores opening up in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America India, China and Australia. Thanks to a ubiquitous advertising campaign featuring the likes of fashion icon, Twiggy and supermodel Erin O’Conner M&S has been able to re-establish itself as the quintessential British brand after flagging sales forced the loss of the American arm of the store in 2006. Currently the clothes giant has 250 franchised stores overseas and has also recently opened up three stores in Taiwan, eight in Hong Kong and 16 in Ireland. (fairinvestment.co.uk)