London has been the most popular destination for headquarter projects in Europe since greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets began recording data in 2003. Between 2013 and 2015, the number of headquarter projects rose sharply, culminating in a record 50 projects in 2015. However, since then, the UK capital has been faced with two steep drops in project numbers, falling 13.33% in 2016 and a further 17.31% in 2017. Although capital investment grew by over 25% to $633.75m year-on-year, the number of jobs fell by 10.17%. These figures correlate with the Brexit vote, as investors look to diversify their European presence outside the UK.
Dublin was the second most popular location for headquarter projects in Europe in 2017, and top in terms of job creation, with a notable 56.65% increase on the previous year. It was followed by Paris, which recorded 18 headquarter projects in 2017, up 125% from 2016 and its highest number since 2013. Amsterdam came in fourth, attracting nearly $300m in capital investment and around 2000 jobs in 2017. Barcelona rounded off the top five with a 250% rise in project numbers from four to 14.
With increasing uncertainty over the UK’s post-Brexit business climate, London’s downward trend looks set to continue, as more and more companies set relocation plans in motion to ensure direct access to the EU single market. Examples include Japan-based electronics manufacturer Panasonic is moving its European headquarters from London to Amsterdam to avoid potential tax issues linked to Brexit, for example, while the European Banking Authority is relocating its head office to Paris to ensure a seamless continuation of its activities.