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Surge in GS1 UK membership indicates UK business resilience

  • Notwithstanding ongoing concerns surrounding Brexit, GS1 UK’s increase in members highlights momentum for small brands and marketplace sellers in contrast to the large retailers
  • Level of GS1 UK membership is at an all-time high, reaching 38,000 companies by the end of 2018
  • GS1 UK saw a 13% net growth in members in 2018

London, 14 February 2019 – Despite political uncertainty and growing economic concerns, GS1 UK has announced that the number of members adopting its Global Trade Item Numbers (barcode numbers) and data standards for trading has reached an all-time high of 38,000.

This is encouraging news for British SMEs, indicating that start-up activity in the retail sector is buoyant and that there are still opportunities for new businesses trading via their own websites, on marketplaces such as Amazon and ebay, and also on the high street.

GS1 UK membership numbers have increased exponentially year-on-year, especially between 2016 and 2018 when there was a sharp rise in new members joining. In 2016, 2,756 companies became GS1 UK members. This rose by 57% in 2017 and 80% in 2018 when 7,801 new businesses joined. As a result, GS1 UK saw a 13% net growth in members in 2018.

According to GS1 UK’s membership records, certain sectors have been expanding significantly, including a surge in baby and toddler products. Between 2017 and 2018 there was a 32% leap in the number of baby companies becoming GS1 UK members. This aligns with the rapidly increasing net wealth of the baby market, currently estimated as £7.5bn, demonstrating the growing consumer demand for these kinds of products.

Similarly, the number of members in the arts and crafts sector has risen five-fold in the last year and more broadly, driven in part by opportunities by the marketplace Etsy. The food and grocery sector saw a 60% increase in members reflecting the breadth and depth of recent food trends.

Another growing area was the pet industry and rather fittingly, GS1 UK’s 38,000th member was Multi-Mite, a leading importer of natural products for animals.

Gary Lynch, CEO of GS1 UK, said: “It is encouraging that our membership data suggests flourishing activity across various strands of the retail sector, despite the political and economic uncertainty sparked by Brexit. This may not be reflected in the headlines about large retailers and the health of the high street, but it shows there are still opportunities for niche products and cool new brands to make their mark.

“The direct correlation between rising consumer trends, such as veganism, and the increasing number of businesses emerging to cater to those trends, is a positive sign for both consumers and businesses alike. Customer demand remains strong meaning there are still exciting opportunities for new or evolving companies.

“GS1 UK continues to support new businesses in adopting standards to comply with retail and marketplace trading requirements as well as services such as productDNA which offers an easier and more accessible route to market, for start-ups and SMEs trading in grocery retail.”

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About GS1 UK

For further information or requests for interviews, please contact Tim Haidar: 020 7092 3584 /

GS1 UK is a community of over 38,000 members working in retail, foodservice, healthcare and more. GS1 UK is one of 112 independent, not-for-profit GS1 organisations operating across 150 countries worldwide. GS1 UK helps everyone involved in making, moving and trading goods, automate and standardise their supply chain processes using the common language of GS1 global standards.