Why the biggest overseas investor in the UK is paying special attention to Yorkshire

Since 2015, cycling teams from all over the world compete in the famous annual Tour de Yorkshire, attracting international visitors and showcasing the best that Yorkshire and Britain have to offer.

Lionel Assant, European Head of Private Equity at Blackstone.
Lionel Assant, European Head of Private Equity at Blackstone.

The idea for the event came after a tongue-in-cheek comment when the Tour de France was dubbed Le Tour de Yorkshire following a brief visit in 2014. The race’s success is testament to Yorkshire’s can-do attitude, entrepreneurial spirit and global outlook, all of which have been on display in abundance throughout the pandemic, and all of which are why Blackstone is investing in the region.

As the biggest overseas investor in the UK over the past decade, Blackstone is proud to support many great businesses across Yorkshire, and excited by the huge potential the county offers as the economy rebounds from the impact of Covid. We invest in businesses for the long term, and I’m proud of the way we have stood behind every one of them, helping to safeguard 20,000 British jobs. Our focus remains on helping these businesses bounce back as doors reopen and people come flooding back to the high street.

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In Yorkshire, we have already been delighted to welcome people back to Bourne Leisure’s holiday parks at Reighton Sands, Blue Dolphin, Primrose Valley and Thornwick Bay. We have already seen a good increase in bookings compared with 2019, even considering the pandemic disruptions this year. Now we’re working hard to get people back to enjoying other Blackstone-backed sites such as the York Dungeon and the SEA LIFE aquarium in Scarborough. At this crucial moment, we are supporting all these businesses with the capital they need to get ready for the Great British staycation boom in the coming months.

Our backing has also made it easier for businesses in Yorkshire to provide relief during the pandemic. One example is the Arch Company, which owns more than 350 railway arches across Yorkshire, including in York, Sheffield and Leeds. Here we gave tenants a three-month rent holiday to support small, independent businesses. This was aimed at protecting jobs; not only in the moment but also over the long term, giving businesses within the arches the best possible chance of success once the pandemic had passed.

In the same way that private capital, together with the economic support provided by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, has been a safeguard for businesses during the pandemic, I believe it can now be a driving force behind growth and job creation in a booming recovery for Yorkshire, and the wider UK economy. Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities across Yorkshire, and the backbone of our nation’s success. The country’s tourism sector alone is worth £9bn to the local economy. That is why there is more to celebrate about the reopening of the sector than simply seeing families enjoy great days out again. These businesses benefit everyone in the community, directly or indirectly, and I’m proud of the part we can play in that.

The vaccine roll out has been a huge success, the economy is starting to spring back to life, and Yorkshire is looking to rebuild and bounce back stronger than ever. The Tour de Yorkshire is set to take place again in 2022, no doubt in front of a record number of visitors. We look forward to a bright future ahead, with growth and opportunity for Yorkshire.