26 March 2021/ sale_office_guide

Where are London’s top industry clusters?

Many of the capital’s most prominent industries have put their stamp on specific locations within London. Now, people from across the country, and even the world, know about Canary Wharf’s connection to financial services or Fleet Street’s (former) reputation as a press hub. It’s not something that’s unique to London either; California’s Silicon Valley and Hollywood are just two other notable examples.

According to Harvard professor Michael Porter, these innovative clusters can positively affect the economy. His research found that industry clusters can help companies cooperate, exchange ideas and stay at the top of their game thanks to some healthy competition.

We’re shining a spotlight on seven of the most prominent industry clusters in and around London, so you can find out how to get in on the action.

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Financial services

Few areas are a better example of an industry cluster than the City of London. It has been dominated by financial services businesses since the 16th century when the Royal Exchange was built. Over the centuries, the Square Mile has grown into one of the world's most notable financial centres. Now, more than 500 banks and financial services providers can be found in and around the City.

Travel three miles east, and you’ll find another notable cluster of FS businesses at Canary Wharf. It’s home to many international firms, including Barclays, Moody’s, Citigroup and Credit Suisse. Other professional services firms, including KPMG, also occupy this space.

Professional services

Just a short walk from the City is Temple - widely considered the heart of London’s legal sector. Middle Temple and Inner Temple, two of the four Inns of Court (associations all barristers in England must belong to), are located here. The Old Bailey and the Royal Courts of Justice are just a short walk away, too, making this an ideal place for those in the law profession.

Farringdon, Barbican and Finsbury, all right in the heart of the city, are also key areas for professional services firms. You’ll find international brands like Grant Thornton and Deloitte here, alongside smaller and independent firms looking to take advantage of a central location.

Technology

Head east of the City, and you’ll enter the East London Tech City – also known as Silicon Roundabout. Many of the capital’s most exciting tech businesses are based close to Old Street Roundabout. Global tech giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft sit alongside enterprising start-ups and tech unicorns like Revolut, Ki and Kazoo. Around 155,600 digital tech professionals work in the capital, and more than 1,300 businesses occupy their own little corner of this bustling area.

The area began to grow in the wake of the 2008 recession when falling office prices meant that small, enterprising start-ups could afford office space in this area for the first time. In the subsequent 12 years, Old Street has been extensively redeveloped, and it’s now one of the most desirable locations for tech businesses in the capital.

Fintech

It’s estimated that 71% of the UK’s fintech companies are based in the London area, and there are more than 44,000 fintech workers in the city. In fact, London has surpassed both New York and Silicon Valley to become the world’s largest centre for financial technology. Again, many emerging fintech companies are based in east London, but some of the biggest, such as fintech bank Monzo, have gained enough industry kudos for a place in the coveted City of London area.

Retail

As you’d expect in such a large city, there are a number of retail clusters across London. From central Oxford Street, which attracts millions of visitors every day, to Chelsea’s upmarket King’s Road, where galleries sit alongside designer boutiques, to Seven Dials’ eclectic collection of stores, there are lots of notable shopping destinations.

Where you choose depends on your target market and who you’d like to call your neighbours. Those looking to appeal to the masses might be tempted by a unit in London’s enormous Westfield shopping centres. But if you’re looking for a prestigious postcode, Bond Street and Mayfair may be more your style. Regardless, London has lots of excellent retail clusters for investors and tenants to explore.

Media and entertainment

Fleet Street in central London was once the newspaper industry’s beating heart, but most print and digital media companies have now moved on. Now, Wapping in east London is where you’ll find big names like News International. Soho is another key area for media, with everything from TV studios to corporate offices of entertainment companies and print media brands based here.

Lots of notable names in entertainment are based around London’s Southbank area. Here, you’ll find The London Studios, home to ITV and used by many other broadcast companies, including Channel 4 to film their most popular shows. The National Theatre and BFI Southbank are just next door and are bastions of British theatre and film, respectively.

Recruitment

If you’re looking to be around like-minded businesses, the Shoreditch/Hoxton area of east London could be the ideal option. Research has found it’s home to many thriving recruitment businesses, from specialist companies focused on placing niche talent to recruiters with a broad focus. It’s close to the industry clusters of central London yet is in the heart of east London’s bustling nightlife scene, meaning there are plenty of places for informal after-hours networking.

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