With all the bankruptcies and job losses of recent months, and as we watch sterling slide against all major currencies, you’d be forgiven for thinking that UK plc is heading for the economic scrap heap. And in many ways it is – just look at our total government and personal debt, and the predicted budget deficits over the next few years. Yet, despite all this doom and gloom, there are some areas of the economy that have a bright future.
It may seem that all the UK has exported in the past few years is an army of borrow-to-let investors, but rather than focus on everything that was wrong with that, I’d like to look at what we’ve done right – and to celebrate some of the successful businesses that have been created by the real entrepreneurial spirit that exists in our country.
So, here are some world class companies that I’m proud to say are British:
- Dyson – Reinvented the Vacuum Cleaner.
- Imagine Technologies – Makes graphics chips for mobile devices, including the iPhone.
- ARM – Makes microprocessors. Has gone from powering the humble Acorn computer, to nearly a quarter of all electronic devices in the world, including the iPhone.
- HSBC – Although a multi-national bank, they are headquartered and listed in the UK, and have British heritage (founded by a Scot). The only major UK bank not to need bailing out as a result of the financial crisis. They even sold their Canary Warf offices at the peak of the boom, and bought them back recently for alleged £250 million profit.
- Tesco – Like marmite, you’ll either love them or hate them, but there is no doubt they are good at what they do! Now the world’s
fourththird biggest retailer, they have led the way in analysing their customer data (club card scheme) and retailing via the Internet. Watch out Wal-Mart!.
- BBC – Although owned by the British tax payer, and some might say a little on the bloated side, they certainly produce some world leading content (Top Gear, Blue Planet, BBC News Online) and have pushed out some innovative technology over the years (BBC Micro, BBC iPlayer, Dirac Codec).
- Rolls Royce – Have mastered manufacturing as a service by leasing their engines by the hour, and providing lucrative maintenance and repair contracts.
The list is going to start small, so please send me your suggestions and I’ll try to add them. I’d like to stick to British firms who have been truly innovative in recent years, rather than just listing out the FTSE 100.