Database of Companies in the UK: Top Industries and Biggest Players

  • Published 10 May 2022
  • Language: English

More than 7.37M companies are operating in the United Kingdom. Most companies operate in the Services (41.4%) and the Retail (14.26%). 1.2M companies operate in London - 16.4% of all companies.

The United Kingdom is a parliamentary monarchy consisting of four countries - Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales. Most companies are located in England (6.44M) and then in Scotland (486 thousand), Wales (263 thousand), and Northern Ireland (173 thousand).

Data on companies in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales is part of the HitHorizons database. HitHorizons aggregates data on 80M+ businesses from 60 countries, including the whole of Europe. Data contains basic information about individual companies such as name, registered address, identification number, contact details, industry, SIC Code, sales performance, and the number of employees. If you need to analyze the UK market, HitHorizons Screener and HitHorizons API will help you.

Most companies are corporations

The majority of companies doing business in the United Kingdom have a legal form of corporations (65.1%), followed by companies with an unknown legal form (17.7%) and proprietorships (12.8%).

Number of companies in the United Kingdom by legal form

Legal form Share
Corporation 65.1%
Unknown Type 17.73%
Proprietorship 12.83%
Partnership Of Unknown Type 4.14%
Foreign Company 0.17%
Non Profit Organization 0.03%
Government Body 0.01%
Joint Venture 0%

Within both legal forms, entities operating in Services are the most represented (43.8% for corporations and 42.5% for proprietorships). In the case of corporations, the second most represented industry is Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (17.6%). Retail Trade is third (12.5%). Among proprietorship, Retail Trade is second (23.8%), and Construction is third (11.1%).

Industries with the highest number of companies registered as Corporations and Proprietorships in the United Kingdom

Industry
Services 2,104,566 402,489
Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate 848,302 28,693
Retail Trade 601,776 25,060
Construction 404,619 104,924
Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, and Sanitary Services 248,285 44,904
Manufacturing 222,580 56,987
Wholesale Trade 179,603 25,534
Unknown industry 108,232 2,866
Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing 60,294 50,152
Mining 10,465 463
Public Sector 9,917 3,374

When it comes to corporations, the most represented SIC Codes are Business services (398 thousand), Sub-divider/developer (253 thousand) and Management consulting services (204 thousand). In the case of proprietorships, Eating places are first (66,000), followed by Beauty shops (46,000) and General Auto Repair (30,000).

SIC Codes with the highest number of companies registered as Corporations and Proprietorships in the United Kingdom

Corporations Proprietorships
Business services 398,321 Eating place 66,363
Subdivider/developer 253,119 Beauty shop 46,809
Management consulting services 204,799 General auto repair 30,791
Real estate agent/manager 185,872 Ret misc merchandise 22,725
Computer-related services 184,474 Drinking place 22,001
Real property lessor 179,986 School/educational services 19,884
Eating place 169,465 Health/allied services 18,979
Misc personal services 143,206 Plumbing/heating/air conditioning contractor 18,340
Non-classified establishment 108,232 Business services 17,415
Ret mail-order house 104,073 Residential construction 16,245

The most significant number of companies in the United Kingdom is in Services (41.3%), Retail Trade (14.2%), Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (12.6%). Most sales are generated by Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (EUR 6.9B / 41.85% of sales generated by all companies) and Services (EUR 3.8B / 23.25% of sales generated by all companies).

Interestingly, of the total sales in Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate, 69.1% (EUR 4.8B) is generated by companies based in London. That confirms the well-known fact about London being one of the global financial capitals. Moreover, in this industry, most of the world's largest companies have their headquarters in London - INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL BANK OF CHINA LIMITED, BANK OF CHINA LIMITED, JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, BANK OF AMERICA, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, HSBC HOLDINGS PLC.

The top 100 companies in this industry account for 51.7% of sales in the entire industry in the UK.

Number of companies by industry in the United Kingdom

Industry Number of Companies Sales
Services 3,050,911 3,859,565,243,936
Retail Trade 1,050,999 1,232,673,001,680
Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate 935,051 6,945,813,294,699
Unknown industry 682,017 81,089,070,065
Construction 598,648 460,957,246,136
Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, and Sanitary Services 328,613 1,209,722,900,427
Manufacturing 313,229 1,268,057,460,549
Wholesale Trade 224,036 1,044,883,799,149
Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing 157,350 64,550,613,355
Public Sector 19,434 126,612,749,616
Mining 11,387 304,212,405,062

When it comes to the SIC Codes, many companies fall into Non-Classified Establishments (9.25%), a category for entities that have not been included in any other economic activity. This SIC Code is followed by Business Services (5.92%) and Eating Place (4.15%). 38% of all companies operating in the UK do business in the top 10 SIC Codes.

SIC Codes with the highest number of companies in the United Kingdom

SIC Code Number of Companies
Non classified establishment 682,017
Business services 436,357
Eating place 305,833
Subdivider/developer 256,437
Management consulting services 222,190
Real estate agent/manager 211,147
Computer related services 199,476
Real property lessor 183,647
Misc personal services 165,326
Beauty shop 142,000
School/educational services 140,127
Ret mail-order house 109,113
Individual/family services 103,257
Health/allied services 103,077
Trade contractor 102,764
Holding company 98,080
Engineering services 93,051
Trucking operator-non local 91,376
Residential construction 89,601
General auto repair 87,506

Almost one-sixth of companies are based in London

The highest number of companies is registered in London (16.4%), followed by Manchester (1.7%) and Birmingham (1.6%). Overall, 26.85% of all enterprises operate in the following 10 cities.

Cities with the highest number of companies in the United Kingdom

City Number of Companies
LONDON 1,208,656
MANCHESTER 125,135
BIRMINGHAM 117,864
GLASGOW 102,577
BRISTOL 86,528
LEEDS 71,604
EDINBURGH 71,339
NOTTINGHAM 66,797
LIVERPOOL 65,621
LEICESTER 63,505
Other 5,392,049

The largest company in the United Kingdom is an INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL BANK OF CHINA LIMITED with annual sales of EUR 163B. ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC is second (EUR 161.2B), followed by BP PLC (EUR 161.1B). The top 15 largest companies have total sales of EUR 1.4T, 20.8% of sales generated by all companies in the United Kingdom.

United Kingdom companies with the highest sales

Company Sales
INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL BANK OF CHINA LIMITED 163,051,568,308
ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC 161,274,775,251
BP PLC. 161,116,665,354
GLENCORE PLC 127,147,155,856
BANK OF CHINA LIMITED 119,567,969,945
JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION 98,569,461,845
BANK OF AMERICA, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION 84,406,566,792
ALLIANZ CAPITAL PARTNERS GMBH LONDON BRANCH 75,714,000,000
JACK RICHARDS HOLDINGS LIMITED 71,883,114,862
HSBC HOLDINGS PLC 71,845,316,067
FIRST COMMERCIAL BANK, LIMITED 68,496,519,275
HUA NAN COMMERCIAL BANK, LTD. 65,314,550,047
MITSUBISHI UFJ FINANCIAL GROUP, INC. 59,825,681,335
CANADA PENSION PLAN INVESTMENT BOARD 58,935,267,912
CITIBANK N.A 57,621,678,228
Top15 largest companies 1,444,770,291,077
Total 6,945,813,294,699

Regarding the number of employees, the largest company is G4S LIMITED, a private security service with 551,748 employees. TESCO PLC is second with more than 367,000 employees, followed by HSBC HOLDINGS PLC with 239,000 employees. The 15 largest companies employ 4.4% of all employees in the United Kingdom.

United Kingdom companies with the highest number of employees

Company Number of Employees
G4S LIMITED 551,748
TESCO PLC 367,321
HSBC HOLDINGS PLC 239,712
J SAINSBURY PLC 171,400
ROYAL MAIL PLC 159,194
GLENCORE PLC 158,000
UNILEVER PLC 153,000
TESCO STORES LIMITED 151,496
BROADSTREET GREAT WILSON EUROPE LIMITED 150,176
ASDA GROUP LIMITED 150,176
SAINSBURY'S SUPERMARKETS LTD 148,700
APTIV PLC 143,000
ASDA STORES LIMITED 142,244
WITTINGTON INVESTMENTS LIMITED 139,570
G4S LIMITED 551,748
Top15 largest companies 2,962,737
All employees 66,970,516

If you want to do a more detailed analysis of United Kingdom companies or companies from other European countries, you can use HitHorizons Screener. HitHorizons Screener allows users to pick from various filtering and sorting options and find relevant entities within the HitHorizons database. The resulting datasets can be exported in CSV for further processing in any software.

HitHorizons API enriches any analytical tools, CRMs, ERPs, or other software with data available in the HitHorizons database. HitHorizons aggregates data on 80M+ businesses from 60 countries, including the whole of Europe. Data contains basic information about individual companies such as name, registered address, identification number, contact information, industry, SIC Code, sales performance, and the number of employees.

If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to contact us

Martin Lindak - Analyst
Martin Lindak Analyst insights@hithorizons.com

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