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The Joy of Enterprise Management Incentives
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4 min read

UK Business Investment Report: Which industries are selling?

UK Business Investment Report: Which industries are selling?

It has been a difficult year for business owners and these challenges have been felt across all industries. 

From the highest level of business insolvencies since 2009 to a 34% drop in the volume of investment deals in UK companies from VC firms, it has been an unusually difficult market for businesses looking to put exit strategies in place. 

But which industries are business owners keen to sell and, at a wider level, which areas of the UK are seeing the most businesses up for sale? 

To find out, our team delved into the numbers and created the UK Business Investment Report, outlining which industries and regions have the most businesses up for sale.

We used business data from sale platforms RightBiz and BusinessForSale before comparing with the number of registered businesses per industry to identify what regions and areas have the highest proportion of businesses up for sale. 

Industry breakdown: Which industries have the most businesses for sale?

Topping the list of industries where business owners are most keen to sell up is the hospitality, food and beverage sector. With over 143,000 registered businesses nationwide, a staggering 14,476 - or fewer than one in ten - businesses are up for sale.

The retail technology industry (computer hardware and phone repair stores) is also seeing a hike in businesses up for sale with one in every 10 businesses up for sale. 



Total Number of Businesses

Number of Businesses for Sale

Proportion of businesses for sale

Hospitality, Restaurants & Bars



One in every 9.88 businesses

Technology (Retail)



One in every 10.13 businesses




One in every 12.11 businesses




One in every 12.64 businesses

Fashion & Beauty



One in every 50.75 businesses

Financial Services



One in every 87.77 businesses




One in every 97.61 businesses

Sales & Marketing



One in every 112.61 businesses

Business Services



One in every 156.17 businesses

Energy & Natural Resources



One in every 205.32 businesses

Entertainment & Leisure



One in every 216.71 businesses

Manufacturing & Engineering



One in every 259.02 businesses

Education & Training



One in every 379.31 businesses




One in every 676.54 businesses 




One in every 730.34 businesses

Software (IT)



One in every 801.44 businesses




One in every 803.32 businesses




One in every 942.98 businesses


At the other end of the table, owners of agriculture businesses show no sign of closing up shop with just one in every 943 businesses up for sale. Transportation and software/IT business owners followed in a similar vein with one in every 802 businesses being up for sale.  

Regional Outlook: Where are the most businesses up for sale?

Business owners in the North West seem to be the most willing to move on to pastures new with 6,655 businesses up for sale out of the 513,000 registered, meaning one in every 77 businesses is up for sale in the region.

Yorkshire and Humberside business owners aren’t far behind with one in every 88 businesses up for sale, finishing second in the table. 



Total Number of Businesses

Number of Businesses for Sale

Proportion of businesses for sale

North West



One in every 77.08 businesses

Yorkshire & the Humber



One in every 88.37 businesses

South West



One in every 116.82 businesses

North East



One in every 120.25 businesses

East Midlands



One in every 121.98 businesses

South East



One in every 175.76 businesses

West Midlands



One in every 178.00 businesses

East England



One in every 204.67 businesses

Greater London



One in every 228.48 businesses


Despite having the most businesses within the region, business owners in Greater London are staying put with just one in every 228 businesses up for sale. The capital boasts 1,380,000 businesses with just over 6,000 currently up for sale. 

Commenting on the research Ifty Nasir, founder and CEO at Vestd said:

“It’s been an incredibly challenging time for businesses over the past year and beyond and our data makes it all too clear that the cost of living crisis is continuing to hit businesses where it hurts, their bottom line. 

“It’s a difficult landscape for business owners looking to put exit strategies in place. It’s important that you think about this process well in advance and familiarise yourself with the different ways you are able to sell your business and the pros and cons of each. 

“Planning an exit that meets your individual requirements, as well as those of your business, will make the process of selling as stress-free as possible but that is easier said than done with the current set of challenges.

If you're planning to sell your business, make sure you've got your team engaged and are working to increase productivity.

One way to encourage this is for business owners to share a piece of the pie with their employees through Enterprise Management Incentives. This too can also provide welcome relief to the company tax bill and reward your employees in the process.

On the flip side: in the market for investment?

Key tips to position your business as an investable proposition

Fundraising will always be a challenge irrespective of your experience in business, so it’s crucial to get it right. 

Seeking early-stage funding is essential for the future of your business and keeping these tips in mind will help with that process: 

1. Research, research, research!

Jumping head first into your first opportunity could be a costly mistake. It is vital you do your due diligence and research in order to ensure you go with the investor that is right for your business.

2. Reach out for help with your presentation 

You may be an expert in many things but presentations may not be one of them. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help to someone who can really help take your pitch to the next level with a brilliant presentation.

3. Perfect your pitch and take feedback 

Practice will undoubtedly make perfect. Although try to avoid pitching to family and friends as it’s likely you’ll get a biased response. Push yourself outside your comfort zone and practice pitching to someone who will really put you through your paces, much like the real thing.

4. Utilise the wealth of experience around you 

When starting out on your journey as an entrepreneur, you will likely have built a network of very knowledgeable and experienced people around you. Lean on them and pick their brains when it comes to negotiating a deal to get the best outcome for your business.

Considering sharing a piece of the pie?

There are a number of share schemes that not only provide the business with flexibility while rewarding employees for their hard work too. 

Enterprise Management Incentives (EMI), Growth Shares and Unapproved Options are all viable options to explore and thanks to their flexibility, you don’t need to worry about a one-size-fits-all approach. 


Vestd utilised business sale data from sale platforms RightBiz and BusinessForSale before comparing with the number of registered businesses per industry to identify what regions and areas have the highest proportion of businesses up for sale to create the UK Business Investment Report. 

All data correct as of October 2023.

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