US-headquartered Group 1 Automotive recently announced that it has acquired five Volkswagen franchises in Essex, joining the growing contingent of large American companies that are already based here. The Fortune 500 firm’s confidence and commitment to investing in Essex is testament to the global reach of the county and the crucial role it plays in a UK automotive industry that experiences an annual turnover of £78bn.

The investment by Group 1 Automotive is estimated to generate about $115m in revenue as a result of the acquisition. Group 1 Automotive is the third largest automotive retailer in the United States and operates a total of 175 automotive dealerships, 230 franchises, and 48 collision centres in the United States, United Kingdom and Brazil.

We are pleased to further expand our global relationship with Volkswagen through the addition of these five franchises to our growing UK platform.

Earl J. Hesterberg
President and Chief Executive
Group 1 Automotive

American large corporates favour Essex

This latest news adds to what was a successful 2018 for FDI in Essex, with the county bucking the trend for the rest of the country by experiencing a 93% increase in completed FDI projects according to the EY (Ernst & Young) UK Attractiveness Survey which was released in June 2019.

Another major recent US FDI project in Essex includes Teledyne e2v’s planned space imaging innovation park on their Chelmsford site, with Teledyne e2v owned by US-based Teledyne Technologies.

Several major US large corporates can call Essex home, including some of the biggest companies in the world in Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and Ford.

Following the sale of Costa Coffee by Whitbread to Coca-Cola in 2018, the largest beverage company in the world also now has a presence in Essex. Costa Coffee’s state-of-the-art roastery in Basildon is the largest roastery in Europe, allowing the high-street chain to quadruple their coffee producing capacity compared with their old facility in Lambeth, London. It also means that Costa Coffee are now just 14 miles from where their coffee beans are imported at Port of Tilbury.

While Ford have had a presence in Essex for over 50 years, Amazon and UPS are more recent arrivals to Essex, attracted to the county by its optimal location, skilled workforce and dynamic economy. Amazon opened their fulfilment centre at Port of Tilbury in 2017, while UPS unveiled their DP World London Gateway package sorting and delivery facility in 2018. Their arrivals have benefitted both Essex as well as the wider area, offering employment opportunities and increasing the attractiveness of the county as a whole for investors.

As the two highest ranking countries in the world for FDI, both the UK and the US stand to mutually benefit from investment between the two countries.

How Invest ESSEX facilitates and encourages FDI

As an investment promotion agency, Invest ESSEX offer fully-funded and bespoke services to businesses seeking to expand in the UK and Europe including site selection, office space, in addition to business relocation to Essex, a county which provides near unparalleled connections to and from London.

Essex is located on the doorstep of London, ensuring that it reaps the rewards of a capital city which remains the number one location for technology investment in 2018, while the UK continued to attract more FDI projects (1054) overall than any other country.

Essex also offers a high-quality workforce, unrivalled global connectivity and the UK’s multi-modal logistics gateway which consists of:

• 4 international deep-sea ports
• 6 rail freight terminals
• The UK’s third largest cargo airport (London Stansted) in Essex, which is currently waiting for approval for an increase in capacity to 43m passengers per year at and a brand new arrivals terminal due to open in 2020
London Southend Airport is one of the UK’s fastest growing airports and frequently tops polls as London’s favourite airport

For more information about how Invest ESSEX can help with business relocation, contact us here.