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The information is accurate as of 31 December 2022.
Data courtesy of Beauhurst.

Analysis Report: Economic and Business Activity in East Lothian


East Lothian’s economic landscape exhibits a diverse range of sectors with a substantial number of employees and businesses. Key sectors like professional services, construction, and retail trade play a significant role. The council has shown a positive trend in employment growth and business dynamism, despite challenges in certain areas.

Employment and Business Growth

  • Total Employees: East Lothian employs 21,647 individuals. The area has experienced a notable increase in employment, with 219 companies reporting a rise in their workforce. This indicates a healthy job market and potentially a growing economy.
  • Percentage Employee Growth: The 7.74% employee growth rate is a robust indicator of East Lothian’s expanding labor market and can be attributed to new company formations and scale-ups in the region.
  • Top Sectors by Number of Companies: The leading sectors are Professional, Scientific, and Technical Activities (640 companies, 16.67%), Construction (484 companies, 12.6%), and Retail Trade/Repair of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles (428 companies, 11.15%). This sectoral diversity suggests a balanced economic structure.
  • Top Sectors with Employment Growth: Sectors such as Waste Management Services, Other Retail, Wholesale, Educational Services, and Agriculture and Farming are showing growth, though they represent a smaller portion of the overall business landscape.

Business Continuity

  • Company Cessations: East Lothian recorded 399 company cessations, indicating challenges in business sustainability. This figure needs to be evaluated in the context of new companies and overall economic conditions.
  • Number of New Companies (Last 2 Years): The region saw 838 new companies in the last two years, demonstrating a dynamic and entrepreneurial business environment.
  • Number of Scaleups: The presence of 26 scaleups is a positive sign, showing that businesses in East Lothian are not just starting up but also growing.

Corporate Dynamics

  • Total Number of Companies: There are 3,840 companies in East Lothian, contributing to the economic diversity and resilience of the region.
  • Number of SMEs: With 2,957 SMEs, the region’s economy is strongly anchored in small and medium-sized enterprises, crucial for job creation and innovation.
  • Number of Exporters: The presence of 59 exporters underlines the region’s participation in global markets, which is vital for economic growth.
  • Number of Companies with Foreign Parentage: 40 companies with foreign parentage indicate international investment and confidence in the local economy.

Innovation and Growth

  • Number of Patent Owners and Grantees: With 28 patent owners and 10 grantees, there is evidence of innovation and intellectual property creation in the region.
  • Number of Fundraisings: The occurrence of 5 fundraisings suggests investment interest and financial growth potential in local businesses.

Leadership and Diversity

  • Gender Diversity in Founders and Directors: Founders (31.25% female, 68.75% male) and directors (29.26% female, 66.99% male) in East Lothian display a significant gender gap, indicating room for improvement in gender diversity.
  • Age Distribution of Directors: A broad age distribution among directors, with notable representation in the 50-60 (28.82%) and above 60 (29.29%) age brackets, suggests experienced leadership in the business community.


East Lothian’s economic and business activity is characterised by a diverse and growing employment base, a dynamic entrepreneurial environment, and a strong presence of SMEs. The region shows positive trends in terms of employment growth and sector diversity, with room for improvement in areas like business sustainability and gender diversity in leadership roles.

Company foundations and cessations over time

Active companies over time

The information is accurate as of 31 December 2022.
Data courtesy of Beauhurst.