Europeans are the key to the success of many small businesses throughout the UK

Over 35,700 UK SME directors from other EU countries
Over 1 in 20 SME company* directors in the UK are EU nationals**,
underlining just what a valuable contribution Europeans now make to the
British economy, says Opal Transfer, the leading European money transfer
Our research shows that currently 5.5% of all SME directors in the UK are
from the EU. This means that there are over 35,740 entrepreneurial European
business owners creating jobs, growth and tax revenues in the British
Gita Petkevica, Managing Director of Opal Transfer, comments: “Europeans
make a huge contribution to the British economy – building businesses that
create jobs, provide services, and also deliver significant value to the UK

“Europeans are making a substantial and positive impact to the British
economy, helping to bring significant benefits to all who live here. The
European entrepreneurs we speak to are incredibly loyal to the UK as it has
been a welcoming place and offered them just the right exciting and
energizing environment to build their businesses.”

“The UK used to worry about “brain drain” but it is clear that over the last
decade the brain drain has been from mainland Europe to the UK.”
Irish directors came out champions in our league table as the single largest
group of European directors, with 9,610 in the UK. France and Germany came
second and third, with 4,605 and 4,155 directors respectively.

We also found that over a tenth of all European SME directors came from
Eastern and Central Europe – with 1,870 from Poland.

Examples of some of the UK’s leading businesses started by Europeans

  • Farfetch, the luxury fashion online platform started in London in 2008
    by Portuguese entrepreneur José Neves
  •, the online marketplace that commissions furniture designers
    and offers it at affordable prices, co-founded by Frenchmen Julien Callede
  • Well & Truly, started by another duo of Swedish sisters Maria and Sarah
    Trechman, is a range of all natural ‘free-from’ food products
  • SugarSin, a ‘Willy Wonka-esque’ sweet shop founded by Swedish sisters
    Anna Nilsson and Josefin Deckel
  • Uniplaces, an online marketplace directly connecting students to
    property managers and landlords, was co-founded by Portuguese entrepreneur
    Miguel Amaro and Slovenian Mariano Kostelec
  • Blanc, the eco-friendly dry-cleaning company, set up in 2011 by French
    entrepreneur Ludovic Blanc
  • toucanBox, the arts and crafts subscription box service for children
    started by French entrepreneur Virginie Charles-Dear
  • Gita Petkevica continues: “It’s great to see there is a real consensus
    growing that these entrepreneurial Europeans are exactly the type of
    hard-working people the UK needs to continue to attract in the future as it
    clearly already does.”

“The UK is one of the world’s most attractive destinations to set up and run

your own business, ultimately creating healthy and sustainable growth.
Further, small businesses are the lifeblood of any economy, stimulating
growth not only in the major cities, but also in smaller towns and rural

“There are even more, tens of thousands more, entrepreneurs from the EU that
run their business as a sole trader and so do not have to file accounts.”

“The growing consensus about maintaining the attractiveness of the UK as a
destination for successful, bright European entrepreneurs is a positive
reflection on the construction impact of European in the UK. There continues
to be positive talk from the Government about ensuring open channels for
European workers wanting to come to Britain.”

“These entrepreneurs want to focus on growing their businesses, adding to
the nation’s tax revenues, and contributing to life in the UK.”

Over 35,000 SME directors in the UK now come from EU countries
*Turnover of under £25 million

**EU nationals, not including the UK


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