Bristol as a Centre for Business – article by Leon Fear
Bristol has long been a commercial trading city and a major sea port and is the
largest centre for employment in the South West region.
With historic trading done at the Exchange in Corn Street over the trading tables
known as The Nails, Bristol is often associated with the origin of the term “cash on
Now with a diverse media industry which includes many creative companies such as
Aardman Animations, the creators of Morph and Wallace & Gromit, and many private
production companies due to the BBC’s presence in the city with the Natural History
department amongst others based there.
Known for being the home of Concorde, the wider aerospace industry including
manufacturers such as Rolls Royce and BAE Systems continue to be major employers in
The city benefits from the Ministry of Defence being based at Filton since 1995
which currently employs around 8,000 people with many smaller private manufacturers
of equiptment, component parts and software benefiting as result.
Bristol is the largest importer of cars into the UK since the creation of Royal
Portbury Dock in 1972.
Financial services play an important part of the city’s economy with major leading
financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown, new head office on Anchor Road, close
to the vibrant harbourside.
The high-tech sector is perhaps the key growth industry in Bristol with over 50
micro-electronics and digital design companies now based in the city, including
Hewlett-Packard’s national research laboratory.
Bristol is the 7th most popular tourist destination with around 9 Million visitors
Unusually Bristol has a vibrant Hot Air Balloon industry in the form of Cameron
Balloons which has been based in Bristol since 1971 and makes around two-thirds of
the UK’s hot air balloons annually and is known for creating special shapes for
branding and advertising as well as selling them to high profile people such as the
founder of Forbes Magazine, Malcolm Forbes.
The company has expanded over the years and bought several other smaller businesses
in the 1990’s including Lindstrand Balloons which was owned by an entrepreneur
associated with Richard Branson, and the company continues to be a major employer in
the Bedminster area of the city.
Bristol has benefited from a new office district at Temple Quay in recent years,
next to the main London line Temple Meads Station. This area is being expanded
further under the 2012 announcement of the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone
which aims to create 40,000 new jobs over the next 25 years primarily in creative
and high-tech companies, which is perhaps one of the key reasons the city is
receiving high speed fibre optic broadband as it continues to expand its appeal to
Amongst the most notable and best office buildings in the city are the Lloyds HQ
buidling on Bristol Harbourside, known locally as “the Donut Building” due to it’s
shape, Colston Tower, Greyfriars, Froomsgate House, and more recently the numerous
modern buildings at Temple Quay including Royal Bank of Scotland’s offices and
perhaps amongst the best is top legal firm Burges Salmon’s new HQ at One Glass Wharf
which opened in 2010.
Occupier’s are more commonly looking for flexible accommodation now with shorter
leases being agreed, with early break-clauses and serviced offices becoming
increasingly popular particularly with fledgling businesses.
Last year in Bristol city centre there was approximately 1 million square feet of
unoccupied secondary office space due to many firms, such as Burges Salmon,
relocating to Temple Quay from the city centre leaving vast buildings empty. Many of
these remain unused and awaiting change of use or new occupiers but some have been
converted to serviced office accommodation such as Centre Gate to cater for new
trends in occupier’s requirements.