Large employers


Lancashire County Council is by far the largest employer in the county, whilst of the various NHS organisations in the county the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has the most staff. 

In the private sector, BAE Military Air Solutions is by a very large margin the biggest employer. Other large private sector employers in the county include Booths and Westinghouse Springfields


This research article has been put together in response to requests for details of the major employers in the 14-authority Lancashire area. Compiling such a list is not straightforward, but there are some data sources that list public sector employee numbers. For the private sector, local knowledge has been used to compensate for the lack of detailed employee numbers. 

The results for the number of VAT/PAYE registered enterprises reveal the very large proportion of total enterprises that employ nine employees or less, and that less than 1% of public/private organisations employ 250 or more people.  Private enterprises account for over 99% the total, but the very small number of public sector enterprises do however form a reasonable proportion of the county's largest employers. The business register employment survey confirms that this small number of large organisations account for a substantial proportion of total employment.   

Major public sector employers in Lancashire  

Health sector

Details are published of employee numbers at National Health Service establishments with a presence in Lancashire. A number of the primary care trusts etc., are based solely in Lancashire whilst others have locations both within the county and outside the area. Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that includes Royal Preston Hospital appears to be the largest NHS establishment in the county in terms of employee numbers.

Local government

Local government employee numbers are published by the Local Government Association and are updated on a quarterly basis. The Lancashire results are published on our website and confirm the very large number of employees who work for the county council.

Lancashire Constabulary is a significant local employer and the police service strength figures for the broader Lancashire area, are published on a yearly basis by the Home Office. They only give an indication of front-line officer numbers and do not include support staff.

Central government

The annual civil service employment survey provides information on the overall number of civil servants in Lancashire. The figures do not distinguish exactly how many people are employed at particular sites. A selection of the major civil service locations in the county includes two offices in Faraday Way, Bispham, Blackpool, the Land Registry in Lytham, the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency at Norcross, and the NHS Pensions Agency in Fleetwood.

Further education

There are four universities in Lancashire and all are major local employers. The University of Central Lancashire has a significant presence in central Preston. Lancaster University has its main campus to the south of the historic city, whilst Edge Hill University is in Ormskirk. The University of Cumbria has a major campus near the centre of Lancaster.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency website contains a statistics section that includes staff numbers by institution, allowing employee figures to be obtained for the universities with major sites in Lancashire. The total numbers for each university cannot reflect the actual location of employees. For instance, the proportion of the University of Cumbria staff in Lancaster is unknown, whilst Edge Hill has some important sites outside Lancashire and employees at these locations are included in the total for the institution.    

There are a number of further education colleges in the county that are also significant employers: Accrington and Rossendale, Blackburn, Blackpool and the Fylde, Burnley, Lancaster and Morecambe, Myerscough, Runshaw and St. Mary's College, Blackburn.

Major private sector employers in Lancashire

The county is home to a large number of active enterprises, and these include a significant number of well-established private sector employers in the county that employ large numbers of people.

Many retailers and financial institutions such as Tesco, Asda, Marks and Spencer, HSBC etc., are major employers in the county but it is impossible to derive figures for the number of people they employ in the county. One financial institution with a national presence is the Co-operative Bank which employs many hundreds of people in Skelmersdale.

Among the well established locally owned companies that are significant employers, Booths has its headquarters in the county and a number of supermarkets in Lancashire. James Hall & Co is a major wholesale distribution company in Preston.

The most important multi-national company in the county is BAE Military Air Solutions. The company has two major sites at Warton on the Fylde coast and Samlesbury between Blackburn and Preston. In 2011, the two sites were designated as local enterprise zones and this will attract additional employees to the sites.

Eric Wright Construction is an important employer in the construction sector with its HQ in South Ribble district. Other significant private sector employers in the county include Leyland Trucks, Rolls Royce with a site in Barnoldswick and Safran Nacelles in Burnley.

Barnoldswick is also home to Silentnight which is said to be UK's largest manufacturer of branded beds.

The nuclear industry has a very important presence in Lancashire. In particular, EDF Energy operates Heysham 1 and Heysham 2 nuclear power stations whilst nuclear fuel is manufactured at the Westinghouse Springfields site near Preston. The Nuclear Industry Association produces a yearly jobs map that lists all the companies and employee numbers that are connected with the nuclear industry. Analysis of the results highlights the employee total for the two EDF nuclear power stations in Lancashire and the employees at the Springfields site. Both figures in January 2012 were in excess of 1,000 employees.   

The manufacturing sector in the county contains a number of sites belonging to major national and multinational organisations. These important local employers include Burton's Foods, Fox's Biscuits, Warburtons, Cott Beverages, Graham and Brown, Eka Chemicals in Blackburn (part of Akzo Nobel) Ashi Glass Fluoropolymers, Andrew IndustriesSynergy Health UK LTD, Tensar International, Trelleborg Offshore, Hanson Heidelberg Cement Group, Victrex, Dixon Group Europe, TRW, Alstom Transport, and Accrol Papers.

A fast moving private sector company that is a major local employer in East Lancashire is the business telecoms service provider Daisy. Homeserve in Preston is an emergency insurance group that employs a large number of people at its claims management centre.  

Hinduja Global Solutions is a major international organisation that employs hundreds of people undertaking customer contact work in central Preston.

The county has a very important agricultural sector that encompasses a range of farming, fishing and horticultural activities. Many of the businesses are well established, but as with a number of other sectors it is a challenge to identify the largest employees.  Of note however are  Flavourfresh Solfresh Group of Banks, West Lancashire, a leading UK salad producer, and Huntapac Produce Ltd, growers, packers and distributors of organic and conventional root vegetables, brassicas and salads. Agency staff, hired during the busier parts of the growing season, will significantly add to the permanent workforces at these and other major local employers in the sector.     

The Lancashire Business View magazine has over the years highlighted a number of Lancashire's important companies. This has led to Crown Paints, PrometheanJohnsons Apparelmaster Ltd and Danbro being added to this article.

Page updated March 2019