The Bradford District Economy – An Overview
June 2017


  • Bradford is a Producer City, we create, make and trade. With a big economy worth over £9.5bn, we are the eighth largest in England.
  • Bradford is a fast growing economy. Between 2014 and 2015 – Bradford GVA increased by £300m, a rise of 3.7% that was higher than UK growth of 2.6%. Bradford’s economy is set to grow 25% over the next decade.
  • There are 17,620 businesses employing 198,600 people in Bradford District.
  • The number of businesses has increased significantly in the last three years rising from 15,145 in 2013 to 17,620 in 2016. This was an increase of 16% that was higher than Leeds City Region and UK
  • Bradford business productivity is higher than the regional average. GVA per job in 2015 was £48,000.
  • Bradford’s job density is low. Bradford has 690 jobs per thousand work age population compared to 830 nationally.
  • A number of major companies have their headquarters in the district including William Morrison Supermarkets Ltd, Yorkshire Building Society, Provident Financial and Hallmark Cards.
  • This includes two FTSE 100 companies - Provident Financial and Morrisons, more than any other city in the Northern Powerhouse.
  • Bradford based companies employ over 250,000 people across the UK with a combined turnover of over £30 billion.
  • Bradford is proud to call itself a Producer City. There are 1200 manufacturing businesses in the district employing 25,000 people - 13% of all employee jobs compared to just 8% nationally.
  • Bradford’s thriving digital sector is a key component of our ‘Producer City’ economy with 700 businesses employing 4,500 people.
  • Bradford has sector strengths in other industries including Financial Services, Chemicals, Printing and Publishing, Engineering, Food Manufacture and Textiles.
  • Bradford’s financial sector generatesover £430 million of GVA each year whilst professional services contribute over £200 million of GVA. We are home to global institutions like Santander, as well as home-grown businesses such as Provident Financial, Yorkshire Building Society and Ecology Building Society.
  • Cultural industries play a key role, with assets such as the National Science and Media Museum, the Alhambra Theatre and Saltaire World Heritage site. Bradford is also UNESCO Creative City of Film.
  • Bradford has a powerful culture of entrepreneurship. 35,500 people in the district are self-employed. Self employment has increased by 23.2% since 2010 compared with a UK rise of 18.1%.
  • Bradford businesses are good at exporting compared to many economies across the North. A recent survey of FedEx customers found that Bradford SME businesses had the highest rate of international trading in the UK with 86% of Bradford companies using FedEx services trading internationally. 
  • The economies of Bradford and Leeds combined are worth £29.7 billion. This is more than Birmingham, making the Leeds/Bradford combined economy the second largest in the UK after London.
  • Bradford and Leeds have the largest commuting flow between any two cities in the UK. 46,000 people commute between the two cities each day.


  • Bradford is the 4th largest metropolitan Authority in England with a growing population of 531,000.
  • 6% of the population are under 16 years of age compared with 18.8% nationally, making Bradford the youngest city in the UK.
  • Bradford has a diverse population with ethnic minorities making up 36% of the total population. There are 153 languages spoken by children attending schools in the district.
  • Our growing population means a growing need for jobs and housing in the district. It is forecast that over 20,000 new jobs will be needed by 2021 to match the national employment rate and we will need 42,000 new dwellings by 2028.
  • Skills are a key issue for Bradford District. 44,000 people of working age living in Bradford have no qualifications, which is 13.8% of the workforce compared to 8.0% nationally.
  • Higher skills levels, whilst lower than regional and national averages, are improving – 94,000 people of working age in Bradford are qualified to degree level and above. The number of highly qualified people has increased by 30% since 2010 compared to a UK rise of 20%.
  • Working age employment rates in Bradford are low compared to regional and national rates. 67.3% of our working age population is in employment compared to 74% nationally. Employment rates are particularly low for BME women.
  • Get Bradford Working is Bradford Council’s employment and skills investment programme which has supported over 2,500 people to find and retain jobs. Since 2012 the Council has invested £10.7 million, which has levered £3 million investment from partners. The programme has attracted national attention and has been recognised as a model of good practice.


  • Bradford's central business district has been rejuvenated in recent years. The city has seen over £1 billion of investment including the Broadway shopping centre, the Southgate office development and three new hotels.
  • Significant public investment has focussed on improving the quality of the public realm including the award winning City Park and the Heritage Streets programme.
  • The £35 million City Centre Growth Zone has supported 160 companies to create 625 jobs and brought 47 vacant properties into use.
  • City Centre footfall has risen and more than 20 new cafes, bars and restaurants have opened in the City Centre in last three years.
  • Currently there is over 170 hectares of large-scale mixed use schemes and grade A office developments on offer.
  • Both Bradford College and the University of Bradford have invested millions in transforming their campuses, bringing great student facilities and accommodation to the city.
  • Growing confidence in the city is also reflected in the Sunbridge Wells development. These underground tunnels showcasing upmarket bars and shops have attracted over 100,000 visitors in the first three months.
  • Despite budget cuts and resultant jobs losses, The Council has supported regeneration by relocating 2,000 of its staff into city centre offices and has continued to do so through the refurbishment of the former central library and Mercury house offices enabling more staff to move into the city centre.
  • Bradford is leading on the development of sector based Industrial Centres of Excellence. These industry-education partnerships are helping to equip young people with the skills employers need and the competencies, credentials, and experiences necessary for success in the employment market.
  • Poor connectivity is holding back economic growth. Bradford is the largest city in the UK not on a mainline rail network. Bradford has the potential to contribute much more to the Northern Powerhouse economy. Forecasts suggest an economic boost of at least £1.3bn to the city and the wider economy would result from connecting the city to the Northern Powerhouse Rail network.

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