From Cannes to Hollywood

Here’s a question for you to consider – what is the connection between Marilyn Monroe, Amanda Solloway and Melanie Leech?

Well, at least I now have your attention…

The answer is, perhaps surprisingly, Marketing Derby Bondholders. Let me explain a little more - all three have been ‘represented’ in the past week at Bondholder events.

Last week, we held a Bondholder briefing at Deda, sharing the stories, activities and outcomes from our time at MIPIM.

So, let me first start with Melanie Leech.

Melanie is Chief Executive of the powerful British Property Federation (BPF). Describing itself as the ‘voice of British real estate’, its membership includes names such as Axa, British Land and Hammerson. Real estate represents an astonishing £1,667 billion of UK assets and contributes £95.6 billion GVA to the economy each year.

Therefore, Melanie’s is a voice that matters with government and we were lucky that she agreed to sit on our dedicated Derby Question and Answer panel, held at the Midlands UK MIPIM pavilion in Cannes earlier this month. Our chosen subject was called “Heart of the City” and in this we explored how regional cities were having to step up their game, to become places of choice and not just convenience. Other speakers included representatives from Gleeds, Morgan Sindall and David Williams, Chairman of the Derby Renaissance Board.

The challenge implied in the title kept cropping up over the MIPIM week.

There is emerging recognition that traditional funding models - centred on stand-alone, single-use developments, predicated on long-term covenant-backed leases - are no longer fit for purpose. The world is changing and changing fast.

Customers, and in particular the talented millennials which today’s companies need to employ, are demanding flexibility; flexibility in leases, spaces and functions. Developers wishing to draw a red line around their site, with no regard to the wider community or city, or who fail to design in features such superfast broadband, now considered as important as running water, are going to struggle to find tenants.

Operators such as We Work, or developments such as Argent’s Kings Cross scheme, are considered as pointers towards the future.

A good example locally would be Derby City Council’s incredibly successful Connect scheme, now operating almost 100,000 square feet across the city in seven schemes (of which, of course, Marketing Derby is a tenant of one).  

A few days earlier, together with the East Midlands Chamber, we had hosted a major policy session on the Industrial Strategy at the Derby Conference Centre – itself a perfect illustration of these new flexibilities, having transformed from the mono-use British Rail Training College into a dynamic business hub.

Successive governments have resisted the concept of an industrial strategy for decades, but we suddenly have a department with it in its title (Business Energy and Industrial Strategy - BEIS) and a Green Paper out for consultation.

Our event included a detailed Q&A with the MP for Derby North, Amanda Solloway. Amanda, who also sits on the BEIS Select Committee, was encouraging businesses to read the strategy and submit comments.

I’ve always been promoting the idea of such a strategy – many other countries consider it a basic requirement – and Brexit, in 2019, makes it all the more important. The debate at the session was incredibly engaged and one interesting aspect around which there appeared to be a consensus amongst companies, large and small, was that the basic education of our future workforce needed to be included as one the ten pillars underpinning the plan.

Finally, and most intriguingly, onto Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn, or at least a Marilyn lookalike, was a special guest welcoming Bondholders to a memorable event held last week at Hollywood House.

This amazing building, located in Blackbrook near Belper, has been redeveloped as a getaway, for corporates or for friends and family. Each room is themed and designed on particular stars of the silver screen - a John Wayne room designed as a cabin or the Hitchcock room with its inevitable shower – and it’s another classic example of a hidden gem in our midst.

Three Bondholder events held within a week – each attended by over 100 companies – international real estate, government strategy and a bit of Hollywood – now, that’s entertainment!