Leeds: the facts and figures

Leeds is the ‘capital city’ of Yorkshire & Humber; it’s also the financial capital of the North, and one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Some of the country's leading household names in banking and insurance services are based in the city: First Direct, GE Capital, Alliance & Leicester, Halifax Direct and Direct Line.

Leeds Metropolitan District spans 15 miles east to west and 13 miles north to south, covering 217 square miles at the geographical heart of the UK, of which 65% is greenbelt land. Leeds is surrounded by an extensive suburban and rural area containing free-standing towns such as Wetherby, Rothwell, Morley and Otley, plus numerous attractive villages.

The city enjoys excellent transport links and an advanced communications infrastructure, making it the perfect place to do business. Leeds has seen £3.5bn of investment in major commercial, retail and residential property developments over the last decade. A further £7.3bn of projects are in progress or in the pipeline.

Leeds is a major employment centre for adjacent districts. Out of a total workforce in West Yorkshire of 936,000, nearly half (that’s 442,000 people) work in Leeds.

Service industries as a whole account for over 80% of total employment, including the city's largest employers: Leeds City Council (33,000); Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust (14,000); and in the private sector companies such as ASDA, Yorkshire Bank, Ventura (all with their HQ's here); Barclays, Natwest, HSBC and TSB Lloyds Banks, British Gas and BT (all with their regional offices here).

Leeds’ population

  • 750,000 people make Leeds the second-largest metropolitan district in England.

Business in Leeds

  • 112,000 people work in the city’s financial and business sectors
  • Leeds is the UK’s third-largest manufacturing centre, with 1,800 companies employing over 39,000 people. It has recognised strengths in advanced engineering, printing, chemicals and food industries
  • The city is fast developing as a centre for the new, online economy.
  • The city's media, communications & advertising sector is growing by about 10% a year.

Leeds’ economy

  • The city has the most diverse economy in the UK
  • Leeds has a GVA of £15.4bn
  • Around a third of GVA is generated by the financial & business services sectors.

Transport in Leeds

  • Leeds Bradford International Airport serves 70 destinations in 30 countries, including North America and Asia
  • Leeds is linked by road to London and Edinburgh via the M1 and A1 and to the east and west coast ports via the M62
  • London Kings Cross can be reached by rail in just over two hours
  • Manchester International Airport can be reached in just over an hour by road or direct rail link.


  • BT regards Leeds as its second city, so advanced is the design and efficiency of equipment. It is the headquarters of BT Applied Technology and of BT's Northern Region which covers the whole of the north of England and Scotland
  • Across the city, all BT exchanges are broadband-enabled, providing both homes and business with fast track access to the internet
  • Thorpe Park, one of the largest business parks in Europe, has been selected as one of BT's strategic eLocations. Premises are pre-equipped with the latest telecommunications infrastructure, including robust dual optical-fibre network.

Tourism and leisure in Leeds

  • Leeds is home to the West Yorkshire Playhouse (staging more productions each year than any other theatre outside London), Opera North, the Northern Ballet and the Phoenix Dance Company
  • The city centre has 2 miles of traffic-free shopping and over 1,000 shops
  • Leeds is one of the greenest cities in Europe, with greenbelt land covering over two-thirds of its total area
  • The city centre is less than 20 miles from the Yorkshire Dales National Park
  • Leeds was named ‘Best Place in Britain to Live’ by Henley Management Centre
  • It was also named ‘The UK’s Favourite City’ by Condé Nast Traveller Magazine.

Education in Leeds

  • Leeds is one of the top student destinations in the UK and the University of Leeds is one of the UK's top ten research universities
  • There are over 200,000 students here, 64,000 of whom are degree students at Leeds’ two internationally acclaimed universities
  • Leeds Metropolitan University is home to the largest business school of its kind, and is rated in the top 50 globally
  • The Independent called Leeds the ‘Best UK University Destination’.

Find out more information about investing in Leeds and Leeds City Council.

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