What are the most successful cities in the UK for tradespeople?

Employment & Skills | Reports

Starting a new trade business is an ambitious endeavour. And with the pressure to survive, tradespeople are looking for the best opportunity for their business to thrive.

According to new data, three in four (77%) trades businesses across the UK survive beyond two years, on average. But a new investigation by Confused.com reveals that some cities in the UK have a better chance of thriving. And this could help tradespeople overcome the confusion and overwhelming decisions they must consider when starting up a new business.

To help ambitious tradespeople make a clear decision, Confused.com has analysed data on the trade industry using expert sites, such as Thomson Local and Company Check to unveil the UK’s best and worst cities in the UK for trade start-ups.

Best locations for success

For anyone looking to start a trade business, the Midlands is a promising option. Leicester, Nottingham and Birmingham are all within the top six areas based on business success rate.

In particular, Leicester is revealed as the city with the highest rate of success with carpenters, gardeners and painter and decorators all particularly successful here. According to the data, less than 10% of all trades based in the city fail, on average.

The UK’s capital emerges as the trade start-up hub and most competitive region. There are 7,649 trade businesses in London, 141% higher than the average UK city, with an average survival rate of 84.1%.

Meanwhile, Cardiff has the fewest number of competing trade businesses in the UK (1,457), suggesting it could be one of the best cities for a start-up. In particular, roofing and double glazing installation business are thriving, with a 100% two-year survival rate in the Welsh capital.

Location Average Trade Survival Rate Number of Competing Businesses Most Successful Trades
(100% rate of success)
Leicester 90.40% 1657 Carpenter, Landscape Gardener, General gardener, Painter and decorator
Bristol 89.90% 2212 Double glazing installer, Carpenter, Landscape gardener, General gardener
Sheffield 88.20% 2947 Roofer, Landscape gardener, Gardener, Painter and decorator

Most successful trades

The study reveals that the most secure trade professions are electricians and double-glazing installation businesses – both of which have an average survival rate of 89% after two years.

Electricians also receive the highest day rate of £215. While electricians require a relatively steep van insurance policy of £1,183, the high rates mean they also have the largest profit margins – approximately £181 a day.

Double-glazing installers, meanwhile, might share the same survival rate as electricians, but a £150 day rate means their margins are much lower at only £119 a day.

Meanwhile, starting a roofing business could be a risk, as the trade has the lowest survival rate (78%). However, more than three in four businesses make it past the two-year mark. Roofing businesses in Sheffield, Nottingham and Cardiff all have the best chance of thriving, with a 100% survival rate.

Financial considerations for traders

When making a plan for a new trade business, financial considerations including income rates, van insurance and running costs should be factored in. The research shows that electricians charge the highest daily rate at £215 on average, followed closely by plumbers at £210. Gardeners have the lowest running costs of all trades at just £56.15- that’s more than 2.6 times less than electricians at £184.24.

Van insurance varies by trade, even between similar work – landscape gardeners pay £1,424 a year on average (the highest insurance cost), while other gardeners pay only £1,392. Trades with the cheapest van insurance include painter and decorators (£870) and double-glazing installers (£889), while contractors sit just under the median cost, paying £1,064 a year.

Builders have the highest public liability insurance at £278 a year, higher than plumbers (£217) and carpenters (£126). Electricians pay the least at only £81, contributing to their high profit margins.

Across all trades, the average cost of marketing, which includes running a two-week bus stop advert, a one-off local newspaper advert and a radio advert over one to two months, would be £26.71 each day on top of running costs.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com comments: “Starting a business comes with a lot of risk and pressure. And our investigation shows that the success of a business could come down to the location.

“But where is best? To clear this confusion we’ve highlighted the cities in the UK with the best rate of success for different trades, and perhaps where to avoid.

“If you’re starting from scratch, the location is key, but there’s also a lot to consider when joining a trade. Our guide to becoming a tradesperson outlines everything you need to know when looking to start a career in the trade industry.”

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