The number of people employed in the UK by the biggest Japanese companies in the UK rose by around 1% to 76,103 in 2016 – representing over half of the 140,000 or so the Japanese Embassy to the UK estimates are employed overall in the UK by Japanese companies.
Just as 80% of the UK economy is services, so too with Japanese companies in the UK. Although Nissan, Toyota and Honda attract most of the headlines thanks to Brexit – understandably as they represent around 15,000 of the 76,000 jobs – the vast majority of the rest are in the services sector.
Even Sony has only one small factory left in the UK, making high end audio visual equipment and employing less than 100 people. The rest of 3000 or so jobs are in Sony Interactive Entertainment, music and film & TV or in marketing.
Fujitsu is still the biggest Japanese employer in the UK but the gap with Nissan at #2 is narrowing, as Fujitsu have reduced their headcount by over 15% in the past year or so. Although Fujitsu is still seen as an IT & telecomms manufacturer in Japan, in the UK it is largely an IT services company.
Trading company Itochu may be a surprise at #3, but this is largely due to its ownership of tyre fitting chain KwikFit.
The Hitachi group of companies (#7) has grown by 17% over the year – thanks in part to expansion at Hitachi Rail and Horizon Nuclear Power – but the bulk of its employees continue to be at consumer loans company Hitachi Capital.
Dentsu Aegis Network, part of the Dentsu advertising agency, has continued to acquire across the UK and Europe, resulting in a 21% increase in headcount. Other notable increases thanks to acquisitions include Mitsui Sumitomo & Aioi Nissay Dowa acquiring Lloyds underwriters Amlin and of course Softbank, a new entrant to the top 30, with its acquisition of ARM.
The story of Japanese companies in the UK continues to be the story of the UK economy overall – a trend which will no doubt continue in 2017, with Japanese banks already strengthening and relocating to their other European Union based operations, or threatening to do so.
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