North Lanarkshire economy faces transition

Councillor Allan Graham, right, opens the new Roylance Storage unit at MediCity.
Councillor Allan Graham, right, opens the new Roylance Storage unit at MediCity.

Employment numbers have increased by more than 1,700 in North Lanarkshire during the last year.

Scottish Government figures for 2017 to 2018 show an increase of 570 jobs among small businesses, 470 in medium-sized businesses and more than 680 in large companies. This takes the total employment headcount amongst registered businesses to 97,930 in the local area.

The Businesses in Scotland 2018 report states that the largest industry sectors in the area continue to be wholesale, retail and repairs and construction with a total of 2,720 businesses employing 32,230 people.

However the report also indicates that the number of wholesale, retail and repairs companies in North Lanarkshire has dropped by 55 and the number of employees reduced by 1,560 between 2010 and 2018. In the same timeframe, the area’s manufacturing sector has seen an additional 75 businesses established, but the number of people employed in the sector has decreased by 1,970 (15.2 per cent).

Over the last eight years, the professional, scientific and technical activities sector has seen the largest increase in business numbers, rising from 690 to 1,035 (up 50 per cent), with the number of employees also increasing by 3,150 (97.2 per cent).

The report shows the number of foreign-owned businesses to have increased from 280 in 2017 to 310 in 2018. Currently, 21.4 per cent of North Lanarkshire employees work for foreign owned businesses.

Councillor Allan Graham, convener of enterprise and housing. said: “These figures confirm that North Lanarkshire businesses are weathering well a year of national political uncertainty and economic change.

“We can see some positive indications of growth in new and emerging sectors as well as increased levels of foreign investment in the local economy.

“With the fastest growing economy in Scotland, North Lanarkshire is the place to live, learn, work, invest and visit.”

Small businesses saw the largest increase in turnover between 2017 and 2018: from £2.719 billion to £2.989 bn (up £270 million).

Turnover for medium-sized businesses increased by £198m over the same period, from £1.733bn to £1.931bn, while large businesses saw a reduction in turnover of £737m, from £10.587bn to £9.850bn.

Yvonne Weir, North Lanarkshire Council’s Enterprise Manager said: “The figures in the report tell of an economy in transition and this is not unexpected. Some of the change may well be influenced by recognised national trends, such as declining business numbers and associated jobs in the retail sector.

“Most interestingly, we see, in the midst of political uncertainty, continued confidence displayed by overseas companies in Scotland and North Lanarkshire specifically. We see growth in foreign investment, mergers and acquisitions, with 30 additional foreign-owned enterprises between 2017 and 2018.”