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NATE: Change in the Business Environment and Data Sales

This blog reviews some of the available data sources for locating and analysing business activity in the UK, from company births and deaths to staff turnover to website registration and measurement.

N.A.T.E = Newly Active Trading Entities. In this blog, we are going to quickly review the data which helps us to understand the scale of the task of finding and maintaining data concerning trading enterprises in England.

Our purpose here is to illustrate what it is that the company was set up to do and the scale of the task in finding out. Briefly, we are concerned to monitor the evolution of a vast, complex and rapidly changing landscape. The number of companies in the UK is growing all the time, and the form(s) they take are evolving too. Public records; accessible and otherwise, do not reflect this complexity in sufficient enough detail to help provide access to this enormous number of enterprises – usually estimated at somewhere more than 4.9 million businesses in the UK.

This is an ideal situation for the use of big data techniques; high volumes of data, a great deal of variety – both regarding the types of businesses but also in respect of the mixture in the form and frequency of data sources. All of which is enmeshed in a complex system that has a very high level of inherent change as companies are formed, merge, are sold, bankrupted, grow, cease to trade and also evolve in the way they do trade.

Turnover of Companies: Company Births and Deaths

Perhaps the most interesting aspect from the point of view of providing data for sales and marketing purposes, is the question as to how much the information needed is changing? Why having purchased data once might it be necessary to think again, or to put it another way what might be the benefit of knowing what new businesses there are?


In the last full year of statistics, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported a total of 313,200 new companies formed in the English Regions. This figure is not a product of Companies registered at Companies House but rather a value based on data only available to the government, principally from HMRC records of VAT registrations and PAYE registrations. But this is only half the story when it comes to change and the ‘dynamic’ nature of business contact data.

The other half is the rate of business ‘deaths’ where enterprises deregister for VAT and PAYE and usually, but much later, become dormant or are struck off of the company register – if they had been registered companies. In 2014 the rate of business deaths fell to a five year low of just 217,175. This gives an overall picture of 540,375 business births and deaths in the year. Another way of looking at this is that 2136 businesses are formed or died each working day.

Turnover of Staff

Staff turnover is still lower in the UK than it was before 2008. However official data shows that in 2014 the last year of complete data,  2,747,500 people changed jobs. The ONS measures Job to Job flows, and this data demonstrates the very high levels of movement. Of these staff some 994,000 people moved from High Skill jobs, (Occupations comprising managers, senior officials, professional and technical occupations). There were 253 working days in 2014 in the UK and on average some 3,929 senior staff left their job every working day. It is an interesting challenge for those developing marketing campaigns based upon purchasing telephone numbers and job titles in specific companies. In fact, as this turnover is not evenly spread between industrial sectors but instead is far more concentrated around some industries rather than others, the picture can bench worse than these data would suggest.

Turnover of Web Sites: Evolution of business on the Internet

For a variety of reasons no one knows precisely how many company websites there are ‘in’ the UK, that is sites dedicated to UK based enterprises. If we limit ourselves to the .uk domains managed by Nominet we can form some idea as to the volume and rate of change – but no definitive figures exist in the public domain concerning business websites alone. The chart below shows that in the UK, Nominet is typically managing around 150,000 new domain registrations a month, although in a typical month 70% or more of these are domains that are being re-registered. Very roughly this suggests that some 40,000 or more Domains are lapsing and a roughly similar number of new domains are being registered – each month. Again we cannot say for certain how many of these new domains are for the use of new companies or what proportion of the retiring domains were company assets. What is clear, however, is that there are many thousands of business web properties being created and abandoned each month.


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