Report reveals strength of Yorkshire's business landscape for women

Starling Bank, Bluebella and Yorkshire's BW Legal have topped J.P. Morgan Private Bank’s first ever "Top 200 Female-Powered businesses" report.

Top of the list was Starling Bank, which is run by CEO and founder, Anne Boden

The report is the first analysis to focus on businesses run by women (not just female-founded businesses). Nearly 75 per cent of the top 200 have not featured in one of the UK’s major growth lists until now.

The report explores the growth of and investment in women-led businesses and finds that even the pandemic has failed to dampen equity investment into women-run businesses, yet access to capital, particularly at the earliest stages still remains a challenge.

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The report was produced using Beauhurst’s data which analyses the 6,085 high-growth companies in the UK that are founded, led or managed by women and then ranks the top 200 companies based on growth in sales, headcount and valuation.

Top of the list was Starling Bank, which is run by CEO and founder, Anne Boden followed by e-commerce firm, Bluebella.

Leeds-based legal services firm, BW Legal, was in third place. BW Legal was founded in 2009 by Rachael Withers, who is now CEO, and Sean Barton.

The firm has seen continued growth year on year due to its expertise in the debt recovery industry and has grown into the UK’s largest independent debt recovery law firm, with 265 staff based out of its Leeds HQ.

J.P. Morgan said the strength of women-led businesses in Yorkshire is shown in this report, with BW Legal making the top three.

The private bank said that as women-run companies across the UK have increasingly secured large amounts of investment since 2011, so have those in Yorkshire & Humber.

In 2019, women-led businesses received 26 per cent of the total equity investment in Yorkshire, putting it second and ahead of London based female-powered businesses who received 18 per cent.

High-growth, women-run businesses raised a record £2.3bn in equity investment in 2020, up 41 per cent from 2019, despite Covid-19.

This represents a record 17 per cent proportion of the total equity invested into UK high-growth private companies last year (£13bn), up from 10 per cent in 2019, helped in part by the Government’s Future Fund scheme.

2020 saw a decline in first-time, seed-stage deals, with the decline in deal numbers for women-led businesses steeper than that of the general high growth population (down by 27 per cent), as investors moved to shore up existing companies in the face of the pandemic and resulting lockdowns.

The UK has a mainly domestic investor base, with crowdfunding platforms accounting for three of the top five investors into female-run companies.

J.P. Morgan said these businesses are playing an important role in emerging industries, disproportionately driving forward innovation in preventive care , the sharing economy, pop-up shops and fitness and health insight devices.