Top 30 UK employers worldwide 2021

Top UK employers

Among the world’s largest private worldwide employers, some giant British companies hire hundreds of thousands of employees to conduct business. They rely upon local and remote employees to create, produce and deliver their products and services in the UK and around the world.

Multiple UK companies belong to the world’s top largest, and therefore many of them are also within the world’s largest non-governmental employers. A company’s number of employees is however not always correlated with the company’s revenues, net profit, and market valuation, as some industries require more workforce than others.

Many large industries need a lot of unskilled employees, generating only a little income per worker, while some other industries may be smaller but favor the growth of larger companies with vast numbers of skilled employees. Thus certain industries are well-represented in the top employers even though the companies themselves are not worth as much as other members of this list in terms of market capitalization.

The following list of top UK employers shows, as in other countries, that the retail industry, especially, requires large numbers of employees. The presence of Tesco and Sainsbury’s in the top 10 illustrates the weight of retail in employment, even though multiple other British industries do weigh heavily on global work.

People walking on a bridge in London

Besides retail, multiple industries require lots of customer-facing employees. Among them, we can notably find package delivery, banking, restaurants, packaged food, personal products, and pharmaceuticals, as well as telecom services, even though large portions of their staff may be remote and located outside the United Kingdom, particularly in India.

Since most of these companies have a global presence, they also have a significant part of their staff outside the United Kingdom. But for professionals looking for their next career move in the UK or abroad, or business leaders interested in what their largest partners or competitors are doing, knowing what the largest British employers are up to can bring a lot of unsuspected benefits.

For more information on the largest British companies, download our FTSE 350 companies Excel file containing the complete list of the 350 largest publicly listed companies in the UK (FTSE 100 + FTSE 250), together with extensive business, market, financial, and digital information on each company. For even more data on the largest UK companies, download our Excel files on the FTSE All-Share companies (600 companies), FTSE AIM All-Share companies (700 companies), and combined FTSE All-Share companies + FTSE AIM All-Share companies (1300 companies).

List of the top 30 largest British employers globally by number of employees

To give you more perspective on the largest UK-based companies employing the most people, details about the thirty largest public companies that hire the largest number of workers globally have been listed hereafter. Each company is detailed with presentations of its sector, industry, its number of total, worldwide, full-time employees, activities, market capitalization, a direct link to its website, logo, and stock symbol.

Remark that this list only includes companies: no public service or government agency was included, even though some of them might also employ large workforces.

For more information on other world-leading companies, check our series of posts on Top Companies, and for more information on the country, read our articles on Top Business Resources for the UK.

Shortcuts to each employer

To facilitate your browsing in this long list, here are quick links to go directly to the details of any of the top 30 British employers worldwide. Be sure to also check the Top 10 global UK employers’ summary after the list!

30. Melrose Industries

Melrose Industries logoSector: Industrials – Industry: Specialty Industrial Machinery

Employees: 55,000

Melrose Industries PLC is an industrial manufacturing company engaged in aerospace, automotive, powder metallurgy, air management, and other industries. Acquiring and restructuring diverse industrial businesses, Melrose Industries is primarily involved in the production of specific structures and systems, and key mechanical and electrical components with operations in North America, Europe, and internationally.

Website: melroseplc.net – Market Cap.: £8.1 Billion – Stock symbol: MRO

29. JD Sports

JD Sports logoSector: Consumer Cyclical – Industry: Specialty Retail

Employees: 56,685

JD Sports Fashion PLC, more simply known as JD Sports or JD, is a retail company specialized in sports and fashion. It provides a range of products in sports, outdoor clothing, footwear, accessories, and equipment for kids, women, and men in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, Asia, and Australia. JD operates under multiple brands including JD, Size?, Footpatrol, Sprinter, Sport Zone, Perry Sport, and Aktiesport, Finish Line, JD Gyms, Tessuti, Scotts, Mainline, Blacks, Millets, GO Outdoors, and Tiso. JD Sports is majority-owned by the Pentland Group.

Website: jdplc.com – Market Cap.: £8 Billion – Stock symbol: JD

28. British American Tobacco

British American Tobacco logoSector: Consumer Defensive – Industry: Tobacco

Employees: 56,689

British American Tobacco PLC, also known as BAT, is a multinational cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company. Formed in 1902, BAT is now the world’s second-largest tobacco producer with multiple international brands such as Lucky Strike, Dunhill, Pall Mall, Rothmans International, Winfield, and a large array of local brands.

Website: bat.com – Market Cap.: £62.9 Billion – Stock symbol: BATS

27. Anglo American

Anglo American logoSector: Basic Materials – Industry: Industrial Metals & Minerals

Employees: 60,000

Anglo American PLC is a mining company based in South Africa and the United Kingdom. Founded in 1917, Anglo American is the world’s largest producer of platinum, and a major producer of diamonds, copper, nickel, iron ore, and metallurgical and thermal coal.

Website: angloamerican.com – Market Cap.: £34.3 Billion – Stock symbol: AAL

26. NatWest Group

NatWest Group logoSector: Financials – Industry: Diversified Banks

Employees: 61,600

NatWest Group, standing for National Westminster, previously known as The Royal Bank of Scotland and RBS, is a private, and partly publicly-owned, banking, and insurance holding company. Tracing its origins to 1707, NatWest Group operates in Europe, North America, and Asia through multiple brands providing personal and business banking, private banking, insurance, and corporate finance, notably NatWest, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank, and Coutts.

Website: natwestgroup.com – Market Cap.: £18.4 Billion – Stock symbol: NWG

25. Lloyds Banking Group

Lloyds Banking Group logoSector: Financials – Industry: Regional Banks

Employees: 63,069

Lloyds Bank PLC is a retail and commercial bank. Evolved from the Bank of Scotland founded in 1695, Lloyds Banking Group has developed its activities primarily in England and Wales in retail banking, commercial banking, life, pensions and insurance, wealth management, and international operations in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Website: lloydsbankinggroup.com – Market Cap.: £24 Billion – Stock symbol: LLOY

24. Kingfisher

Kingfisher logoSector: Consumer Cyclical – Industry: Home Improvement Retail

Employees: 64,605

Kingfisher PLC is a multinational retail company. Primarily involved in the distribution of home improvement products and supplies, it manages and operates more than 1,300 stores across the United Kingdom, France, Poland, and Romania under multiple brands including B&Q, Castorama, Brico Dépôt, Screwfix, TradePoint, and Koctas. Kingfisher also provides services in property investment, finance, digital, sourcing, and IT.

Website: kingfisher.com – Market Cap.: £5.7 Billion – Stock symbol: KGF

23. Evraz

Evraz logoSector: Basic Materials – Industry: Steel

Employees: 67,582

Evraz PLC is a multinational vertically integrated steel making and mining company. It provides a range of steel and steel products, including infrastructure steel, rails, large diameter pipes, and tubular goods, coking coal blends products, and vanadium products. Evraz is also involved in energy-generation, shipping, and railway transportation.

Website: evraz.com – Market Cap.: £7.5 Billion – Stock symbol: EVR

22. BP

BP logoSector: Energy – Industry: Integrated Oil & Gas

Employees: 67,600

BP PLC, formerly The British Petroleum Company and BP Amoco, is a multinational oil and gas company. Founded in 1909, BP operates in oil and gas through exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation, and trading, and also has interests in renewable energy with biofuels and wind power.

Website: bp.com – Market Cap.: £57.1 Billion – Stock symbol: BP

21. AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca logoSector: Healthcare – Industry: Pharmaceuticals

Employees: 70,600

AstraZeneca PLC is an Anglo–Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company. AstraZeneca develops, manufactures, and sells pharmaceuticals and biotechnology products to treat major disease areas including cancer, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, infection, neuroscience, respiratory, and inflammation.

Website: astrazeneca.com – Market Cap.: £103.7 Billion – Stock symbol: AZN

20. Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer logoSector: Consumer Cyclical – Industry: Department Stores

Employees: 75,505

Marks and Spencer Group PLC, often abbreviated as M&S, is a leading retailer that specializes in selling clothing, home products, and luxury food products mostly of its own label. Founded in 1884, M&S now operates more than 900 stores primarily in the UK and Ireland. M&S is also involved in a number of other businesses, including financial services, renewable energy services, real estate development, and export to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Website: corporate.marksandspencer.com – Market Cap.: £2.8 Billion – Stock symbol: MKS

19. Barclays

Barclays logoSector: Financials – Industry: Diversified Banks

Employees: 80,800

Barclays PLC is a British investment bank and financial services company. Tracing its origin to 1690, Barclays is primarily involved in investment banking with additional services in personal banking, corporate banking, wealth management, and investment management.

Website: home.barclays – Market Cap.: £23.8 Billion – Stock symbol: BARC

18. Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered logoSector: Financials – Industry: Diversified Banks

Employees: 82,494

Standard Chartered PLC is a multinational banking and financial services company. Tracing its origins to the 19th century, Standard Chartered operates in consumer, corporate and institutional banking and treasury services in more than 70 countries.

Website: sc.com – Market Cap.: £14.4 Billion – Stock symbol: STAN

17. Royal Dutch Shell

Shell logoSector: Energy – Industry: Integrated Oil & Gas

Employees: 83,000

Royal Dutch Shell PLC, simply known as Shell, is a British-Dutch oil and gas company. Founded in 1907, headquartered in the Netherlands, and incorporated in the UK, Shell is now present in more than 70 countries. It operates in oil and gas in exploration and production, refining, transport, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation, and trading, and is also engaged in renewable energies with biofuels, wind, and hydrogen.

Website: shell.com – Market Cap.: £105.6 Billion – Stock symbol: RDSA

16. BAE Systems

BAE Systems logoSector: Industrials – Industry: Aerospace & Defense

Employees: 88,400

BAE Systems PLC is a multinational defense, security, and aerospace company. Tracing its origins to 1897, BAE Systems is involved in the production of aircraft, armored vehicles, armaments and defense electronics, and shipbuilding. Its main markets are Australia, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the US.

Website: baesystems.com – Market Cap.: £15.2 Billion – Stock symbol: BA

15. Morrisons

Morrisons logoSector: Consumer Defensive – Industry: Grocery Stores

Employees: 98,000

Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC is a chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom, trading under the Morrisons brand. Founded in 1899, Morrisons sells groceries, fresh and processed food, clothing, and home products in-store and online. Operating more than 490 hypermarkets, 50 convenience stores, and 300 petrol stations, the company also develops and manages real estate properties, and provides associated financial services.

Website: groceries.morrisons.com – Market Cap.: £4.5 Billion – Stock symbol: MRW

14. GlaxoSmithKline

GSK logoSector: Healthcare – Industry: Pharmaceuticals

Employees: 99,437

GlaxoSmithKline PLC, better known as GSK, is a pharmaceutical company. GSK manufactures products for major disease areas such as asthma, cancer, infections, diabetes, and mental health, and it also has a portfolio of vaccines. Operating in more than 115 countries, GSK is also engaged in the consumer healthcare business in oral health, pain relief, respiratory, nutrition/gastro-intestinal, and skin health categories.

Website: gsk.com – Market Cap.: £70.7 Billion – Stock symbol: GSK

13. WPP

WPP logoSector: Communication Services – Industry: Advertising Agencies

Employees: 101,000

WPP PLC is a multinational company providing communication, experience commerce, and technology services. It delivers a range of services in advertising, public relations, media, and market research through multiple subsidiaries in the UK, Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific including AKQA, BCW, Essence Global, Finsbury, Grey, GroupM, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Kantar Group, Mindshare, Ogilvy, Wavemaker, Wunderman Thompson, and VMLY&R.

Website: wpp.com – Market Cap.: £9.4 Billion – Stock symbol: WPP

12. Vodafone

Vodafone logoSector: Communication Services – Industry: Telecom Services

Employees: 105,263

Vodafone Group PLC is a multinational telecommunications conglomerate. Engaged predominantly in mobile connectivity services, Vodafone owns and operates networks in 25 countries, and has partner networks in 47 further countries. Its enterprise services division provides telecommunications and IT services to corporate clients in 150 countries.

Website: vodafone.com – Market Cap.: £34.5 Billion – Stock symbol: VOD

11. BT Group

BT GroupSector: Communication Services – Industry: Telecom Services

Employees: 105,300

BT Group PLC, trading as BT and formerly British Telecom, is a multinational telecommunications company. Tracing its origins to 1846, BT has grown to operate in about 180 countries. The leader in the UK, BT provides fixed-line, broadband, and mobile services, together with subscription television and IT services.

Website: bt.com – Market Cap.: £13.1 Billion – Stock symbol: BT-A

10. Royal Mail Group

Royal Mail Group logoSector: Industrials – Industry: Integrated Freight & Logistics

Employees: 109,325

Royal Mail Group PLC is a multinational postal service and courier company. Established in 1516 and spun off as a private company in 201, Royal Mail Group now operates through subsidiary companies: Royal Mail for letters, Parcelforce Worldwide for parcels, and General Logistics Systems which provides mail collection and delivery services throughout the UK. Besides, Royal Mail is also involved in property holdings activities, and the provision of facilities management services.

Website: royalmailgroup.com – Market Cap.: £4.2 Billion – Stock symbol: RMG

9. Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury's logoSector: Consumer Defensive – Industry: Grocery Stores

Employees: 111,900

J Sainsbury PLC, trading as Sainsbury’s, is a retail company. Founded in 1869, Sainsbury’s and its subsidiaries, notably including Argos and Habitat, are involved in the retail of food, general merchandise, and clothing in chains of convenience stores and supermarkets. Sainsbury’s also provides a range of consumer financial services.

Website: about.sainsburys.co.uk – Market Cap.: £5.5 Billion – Stock symbol: SBRY

8. Associated British Foods

Associated British Foods logoSector: Consumer Defensive – Industry: Packaged Foods

Employees: 133,000

Associated British Foods PLC is a multinational food processing and retailing company. Founded in 1935, the company has evolved to become a leader in the production of ingredients, such as sugar and baker’s yeast, grocery products with brands including Mazola, Ovaltine, Ryvita, Jordans, and Twinings, and retail, with spaces across Europe and the United States.

Website: abf.co.uk – Market Cap.: £17.4 Billion – Stock symbol: ABF

7. Unilever

Unilever logoSector: Consumer Defensive – Industry: Household & Personal Products

Employees: 149,867

Unilever is a British-Dutch multinational consumer goods company dual-listed in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Formed from companies founded in the 1870s, Unilever now regroups more than 400 brands, including Axe/Lynx, Dove, Omo, Heartbrand ice creams, Hellmann’s, Knorr, Lipton, Lux, Magnum, Rexona/Degree, Sunsilk, and Surf.

Website: unilever.com – Market Cap.: £116.8 Billion – Stock symbol: ULVR

6. Carnival

Carnival logoSector: Consumer Cyclical – Industry: Leisure

Employees: 150,000

Carnival Corporation and PLC is a British-American cruise operator. One of the world’s largest leisure company, Carnival operates a fleet of more than 100 vessels across 10 cruise line brands: AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Carnival CSSC, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line. The company is composed of Carnival Corporation and Carnival PLC which form a single entity that is dual-listed on the London Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange. Carnival is part of both the British FTSE 100 and the American S&P 500 and indices

Website: carnivalcorp.com – Market Cap.: £10.5 Billion – Stock symbol: CCL

5. Glencore

Glencore logoSector: Basic Materials – Industry: Industrial Metals & Minerals

Employees: 160,000

Glencore PLC is an Anglo-Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company. Glencore is operating mining and metallurgical sites, oil production assets, agricultural facilities, and it is engaged in the sourcing and distribution of its commodities throughout the world.

Website: glencore.com – Market Cap.: £34.6 Billion – Stock symbol: GLEN

4. HSBC

HSBC logoSector: Financials – Industry: Diversified Banks

Employees: 230,317

HSBC Holdings PLC is a multinational banking and financial services company, dual-listed both in London and Hong Kong. Founded in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1865, HSBC has grown to operate in more than 60 countries, with operations in commercial banking, investment banking, retail banking and wealth management, and global private banking.

Website: hsbc.com – Market Cap.: £81.1 Billion – Stock symbol: HSBA

3. Tesco

Tesco logoSector: Consumer Defensive – Industry: Grocery Stores

Employees: 405,506

Tesco PLC is a multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer. Founded in 1919, Tesco has grown to become the world’s third-largest retailer, operating hypermarkets and convenience stores selling groceries, books, clothing, electronics, furniture, toys, petrol, software, financial services, telecoms, and internet services in seven countries.

Website: tescoplc.com – Market Cap.: £23.9 Billion – Stock symbol: TSCO

2. G4S

G4S logoSector: Industrials – Industry: Security & Protection Services

Employees: 533,000

G4S PLC is a multinational security services company. It provides a number of security services including the supply of security personnel, monitoring equipment and software, financial security solutions, response units, and secure prisoner transportation. G4S traces its origins to 1901, and now provides its services in more than 90 countries around the world.

Website: g4s.com – Market Cap.: £4 Billion – Stock symbol: GFS

1. Compass Group

Compass Group logoSector: Consumer Cyclical – Industry: Restaurants

Employees: 548,143

Compass Group PLC is a multinational contract foodservice company. The largest contract foodservice company in the world, providing food and support services in more than 50 countries across five market sectors: business and industry, healthcare and seniors, education, sports and leisure, defense, offshore and remote.

Website: compass-group.com – Market Cap.: £23.6 Billion – Stock symbol: CPG

Summary: Top 10 UK Employers Worldwide 2021

To give you a quick overview of the largest UK-based employers globally in 2021, here is a synthesizing image regrouping the information of the top 10. Note that you can use this image to embed it on your website and other digital properties using the embed code below.

Top 10 UK Employers Worldwide 2021

Embed code:

<a href="https://disfold.com/top-uk-employers/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="https://disfold.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/top-10-uk-employers.jpg" alt="Top 10 UK Employers Worldwide 2021"></a>

Here are the 30 largest UK employers in the world. Do you think they should hire more people or reduce their headcount? Should they focus on the United Kingdom or expand globally? Do these large numbers of employees give them too much power… or maybe too much responsibility?

Leave your comments below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *