Overview of the Peterborough Business Economy
Peterborough is a city located in the eastern part of England, and it is the largest city in the county of Cambridgeshire. The city has a diverse economy with a mix of industries, including manufacturing, service, and retail sectors. Peterborough business has developed over the last decade to include warehousing and and eco sector.
One of the major industries in Peterborough is manufacturing, with companies producing products such as food and drink, electrical equipment, and precision engineering components. The city is home to large manufacturing firms such as Perkins Engines, which is owned by Caterpillar Inc. and produces diesel engines, and British Sugar, which is one of the largest sugar producers in Europe.
The service sector is also a significant contributor to the Peterborough economy, with a range of businesses including finance, insurance, and real estate. Peterborough is home to a number of large financial services companies, including BGL Group, which operates insurance brands such as comparethemarket.com and Beagle Street.
The retail sector is also a significant part of the Peterborough economy, with several large shopping centers, including Queensgate and Serpentine Green, as well as many smaller independent shops and markets.
In recent years, the city has seen significant investment in infrastructure, including the development of the Peterborough Innovation Quarter, a hub for research and development in areas such as sustainable technologies, agri-tech, and healthcare.
Overall, the Peterborough business economy is diverse, with a range of industries and sectors contributing to the city’s growth and prosperity
Approximately 7100 Businesses in Peterborough
As of 2021, there were approximately 7,100 businesses operating in Peterborough, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). However, this number may have changed since then due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past 10 years, the number of businesses in Peterborough has shown a general upward trend, with some fluctuations. According to ONS data, there were approximately 6,000 businesses in Peterborough in 2011, which increased to around 6,700 by 2016. The number of businesses then dropped slightly to around 6,600 in 2017, before increasing to its current level of around 7,100 by 2021.
It’s worth noting that these figures are only for businesses registered for VAT and/or PAYE, and therefore do not include all types of businesses operating in Peterborough, such as sole traders and partnerships that do not meet these criteria. Additionally, the pandemic may have had a significant impact on the number of businesses in the city over the past two years, so it is important to keep this in mind when considering changes in the number of businesses in Peterborough over time.
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Comparing Peterborough & Cambridge Businesses
The Cambridge and Peterborough business economies are quite different from each other, with distinct characteristics and strengths.
Cambridge is well-known for its high-tech and knowledge-intensive industries, with a strong focus on research and development. The city is home to several world-renowned universities and research institutions, as well as a large number of start-ups and small businesses in fields such as biotechnology, software development, and engineering.
In contrast, Peterborough’s economy is more diversified, with a mix of manufacturing, service, and retail sectors. While the city also has a significant focus on research and development, particularly in areas such as sustainable technologies and agri-tech, it does not have the same level of concentration of high-tech industries as Cambridge.
In terms of size, Cambridge is significantly smaller than Peterborough in terms of population and land area. However, its economy is larger, with a higher concentration of businesses and higher levels of investment in research and development.
Despite these differences, both cities are important economic hubs in the region, with growing populations and dynamic business environments. They both offer opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive, and each has its own unique strengths and advantages that make them attractive to different types of businesses.
Statistics that compare the business economies of Peterborough and Cambridge:
- Size: Cambridge has a population of around 130,000, while Peterborough has a population of around 202,000. However, Cambridge has a higher concentration of businesses, with around 8,700 registered enterprises compared to around 7,100 in Peterborough.
- Sectoral composition: As mentioned earlier, the business economies of the two cities have different sectoral compositions. Cambridge is known for its high-tech and knowledge-intensive industries, with a strong presence in fields such as biotechnology, software development, and engineering. Peterborough, on the other hand, has a more diversified economy, with a mix of manufacturing, service, and retail sectors.
- Innovation and research: Cambridge has a strong focus on research and development, with several world-renowned universities and research institutions located in the city. This has helped to drive innovation and entrepreneurship, with a large number of start-ups and small businesses operating in the high-tech and biotech sectors. In comparison, Peterborough has also invested in research and development, particularly in areas such as sustainable technologies and agri-tech, but does not have the same level of concentration of high-tech industries as Cambridge.
- Investment: Cambridge has a higher level of investment in research and development, with the city receiving significant funding from both public and private sources. This has helped to attract businesses and talent to the city and has contributed to its reputation as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Peterborough has also attracted investment, particularly in infrastructure and development projects, such as the Peterborough Innovation Quarter.
- Employment: According to the latest data from the ONS, Cambridge had an employment rate of 79.9% in 2021, while Peterborough had an employment rate of 75.4%. However, the two cities have similar levels of unemployment, with Cambridge’s unemployment rate at 5.3% and Peterborough’s at 5.1%.
Peterborough Business Start Ups
According to data from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of business start-ups in Peterborough has shown some fluctuations over the past 10 years. Here is an overview of the trend:
- In 2011, there were 1,205 business births (i.e. new business start-ups) in Peterborough.
- This number increased to 1,420 in 2012, before dropping to 1,300 in 2013.
- The number of business births then increased steadily over the next few years, reaching a peak of 1,680 in 2016.
- However, the number of business births in Peterborough then declined for the next two years, falling to 1,385 in 2018.
- In 2019, the number of business births in Peterborough increased again to 1,545, before dropping to 1,355 in 2020, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, while the number of business start-ups in Peterborough has shown some fluctuations over the past 10 years, there has been a general upward trend in recent years. However, it’s worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic may have had a significant impact on business start-ups in the city over the past two years, so the trend going forward may be different.
Warehousing & Distribution
Peterborough’s transformation into a major warehouse and distribution centre is due to a combination of several factors, including its location, transport links, and infrastructure.
- Location: Peterborough is strategically located in the heart of the UK, making it an ideal location for logistics and distribution operations. It’s located on the A1(M) motorway, which connects it to London in the south and Edinburgh in the north, and is within easy reach of major ports such as Felixstowe, Southampton, and London Gateway.
- Transport links: Peterborough has excellent transport links, including a major railway station that provides regular services to London, the Midlands, and the North. The city also has an airport (Peterborough City Airport) that offers business and freight services.
- Infrastructure: Peterborough has invested heavily in infrastructure, with several large-scale developments that have helped to attract warehousing and distribution companies. For example, the Peterborough Gateway development includes over 240 hectares of land for logistics and distribution, and is home to major companies such as Amazon, Tesco, and IKEA. The city has also invested in road and rail infrastructure to support these developments.
- Skilled workforce: Peterborough has a highly skilled workforce, with a strong manufacturing and engineering sector that has provided the necessary skills for logistics and distribution operations.
Peterborough DNA What Makes Peterborough
I recently heard of a project being funded that is called Peterborough DNA. As it sounded really interesting and a subject I am passionate about I thought would check out the blurb on the project.
Note this is copied directly from their website
“The strands of DNA in Peterborough are multi-faceted and intrinsically cross-cutting within themselves, as well as being mutually inter-dependent to deliver greater value. Underpinned by real-time data, the proposal incorporates innovation, skills, our city metabolism and intelligent networks. As well as identifying technological solutions as part of the proposal. Innovation is in the DNA of Peterborough. As home of the UK’s environment capital, we have an unrivaled network of high quality, innovative companies and thought-leading organisations. We are a national and international leader in ground-breaking solutions, from the ‘Peterborough Model’ visualisation tool through to collective energy switching and pioneering system integration”.
Peterborough DNA – my take on it
What is unique about Peterboroughs and DNA from a business perspective. Compared to other cities / areas of the country I think Peterboroughs includes something which inhibits its growth or ability to compete with say Cambridge Business DNA. There is definitely an extra warehousing gene in Peterboroughs, unfortunately it seems that the dominant engineering / manufacturing gene is becoming dominated by the service gene but as an evolutionary process that’s probably a good thing.
From a retail perspective the dominant gene is definitely the same as every other shopping centre throughout the country. No variation with limited independent retailers able to succeed against the up and coming challenge of online shopping and reducing footfall.
Even so Peterborough must adapt and change if the city and its businesses are to survive and thrive.