Top accountant says interest in Yorkshire's tech firms remains high

Foreign investment into Yorkshire and the nation's economies will continue, with the region's tech firms particularly attractive to inward investment, a top accountant has claimed.

Nick Woodford, who has joined PwC’s Leeds office as senior international tax partner, said interest in the regional economy remained high from firms based in Japan, America and Germany.

And, while Brexit had slowed this interest, he said that major deals were still very much in the offing.

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Mr Woodford, who has worked for the accountancy giant since the mid-1980s, is joining the new Leeds offices at Central Square from its London headquarters, having worked all over the word.

A partner for 13 years, Mr Woodford has spent much of his latter career working with inbound business from the likes of Japan and the United States and will continue this from his new role in Leeds.

“I have done a lot of work with US inbounds and Japanese inbounds, a whole range really,” he told The Yorkshire Post.

“One of the most exciting experiences of my career has been leading Japanese network in UK. I have spent the last three or four years working with major Japanese companies who do business in the UK.

“And I still going to keep doing that based from here.

“The role that I have got here is a mixed role, very much focused on the major corporates that we have here in the region.”

Mr Woodford said he anticipated the interest in the region to continue apace.

“You will continue to see investment from the US in particular. There are a number of German-owned businesses here.

“Japan is interesting.

“The Japanese mood is very much to continue investing in the UK. If you talk to any Japanese businessmen and women they will talk about the special relationship with the UK.

“And being a very industrialised economy, supporting and investing in businesses outside Japan is very attractive for Japanese companies. And part of what drives that in Japan is an aging population, declining local markets. The only way Japanese companies are going to grow is to expand overseas and they are continuing to do that.

“Brexit has been something of a temporary brake on that from my experience. But in terms of UK companies, Japanese companies are always interesting in profitable, high-performing businesses which fit with that. And the same can be said of German investors as well as the US.

“A lot of large Japanese companies have been buying small tech companies for the technology that the smaller companies have developed that fits with their bigger business. Hitachi has done that a number of times in the UK.

“I can see a great future for the tech sector in the UK, particularly around here. Because you can see that there is a real sense of community in the tech sector. If we give the region a clear base for expansion the next step inevitably is to expand overseas, even if it is just with the supply chain.”