I’d been avoiding doing a Top 30 Japanese employers in the UK ranking to accompany our Top 30 Japanese employers in Europe, as officially disclosed data per country are much harder to get hold of than regional totals. But with Brexit, more data has been disclosed about employee numbers and where there are still no data from the company itself, I took the top figure from publicly available sources.
Credit research agency Teikoku Databank, for whom I write a monthly column, estimate there are 1,380 Japanese companies with operations in the UK, with the manufacturing industry accounting for 40%. The estimate commonly used by the Japanese Embassy in the UK is that Japanese companies directly employ around 140,000 people. Our Top 30 employ nearly 100,000 of those employees, so they represent around 2/3 of the total number who are employed by Japanese companies in the UK.
Manufacturers do indeed represent more than half of the Top 30, although the largest company (12,000 employees), Fujitsu, is an IT solutions and services provider in the UK. 16 of our Top 30 companies have factories in the UK, half of which are automotive related. Automotive factories are part of a highly integrated European supply chain, both exporting a high proportion of their production to Europe and importing parts from Europe. The rest range from food processing to electronics to medical instruments. The automotive factories export more than half of their production to the rest of Europe, and also import plenty of parts from Europe for assembly.
In terms of Brexit impact, most of these companies have other factories in Europe, such as in Spain, Romania, Portugal and Poland, so my guess is that over the next few years, depending on the deal which the UK makes with Europe, some production and jobs might transfer to other locations.
The remaining companies are almost all financial services companies. Again, they all have offices elsewhere in Europe and I have already heard that some of them have opened “European Union” branches and built up capabilities in Amsterdam, for example. If the UK loses its “EU passport” to operate freely across EU financial markets, then undoubtedly more jobs will shift. In any case, just as with the manufacturers, there have been shifts eastwards of middle and back office jobs to Continental Europe, particularly Poland.
According to the Teikoku Databank, 18.7% of the 1,380 companies are wholesalers/sales operations, 17% are in the services sector, and 11.5% are financial/insurance. The biggest group (29.5%) have consolidated turnovers of between £75-£750 million/Y1bn-Y10bn/$100m-$1bn and 22.8% have turnovers of over £750m/Y1bn/$1bn, so the larger Japanese companies are well represented, in contrast to ASEAN, where most of the Japanese companies who have presence there are classified as small-medium size enterprises in Japan. 55% of the UK Japanese companies have their headquarters in Tokyo, 8.5% in Osaka and 5.9% in Kanagawa prefecture (Yokohama and Kawasaki).
But the outstanding feature of the Top 30 that most concerns me, both for my own business and for the future of the UK, is the large proportion of the Top 30 that are the product of an acquisition. Having put a stake in the ground, they may well stay in the UK despite Brexit, but will the UK really see many more major acquisitions from now on? And despite their British roots, might the European HQ gradually shift away? 21 of the Top 30 currently have their regional HQ in the UK, but I have seen many of them become more virtual and integrated in the way they manage the region, so that actual physical location is less important for management level regional executives.
- Fujitsu – ICL
- Sumitomo Electric Industries – Lucas
- Itochu – Stapleton Tyres, Kwik-Fit
- Mitsubishi Corporation – Princes Foods
- Hitachi – The Railway Engineering Company, Horizon Nuclear Power
- NSG – Pilkington Glass
- Dentsu – Aegis
- Calsonic Kansei – Llanelli Radiators, Marley Foam
- Suntory – Lucozade, Ribena
- Olympus – KeyMed
- Mitsubishi Chemical Holding – Lucite
- Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance & Aio Nissay Dowa – Amlin, Insure The Box
- Sompo Holdings – Canopius
My sense is, UK based people might want to get ready to move eastwards too in the next few years, if they want to work for the Japanese Top 30. Ironically, Poland looks a good bet, the source of so much immigration to the UK recently and in the more distant past.
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