Latest News | 31 March 2022

Comfy shoes the key to success at investment ‘World Cup’

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Here, in his latest monthly column reflecting on the news over the past month, our Press and PR Executive Robin Johnson looks at the headlines.

Glistening supercars, exclusive designer shops, luxury yachts and the occasional tanned, floppy-haired gent, sporting expensive sunglasses (even when the sun isn’t shining).

No, you’re right, we’re not in Derby – although the weather in Derbados during March was pretty gorgeous at times, wasn’t it?

No, this is MIPIM, or to give its full title Le Marché International des Professionnels de L’immobilier (good job this is the written word otherwise you would’ve been subjected to my appalling French accent).

Taking place every year (when there’s not a global pandemic), MIPIM is the world’s largest property investment conference.

Investors come from all over the globe to view the latest opportunities in cities and regions in countries across almost every continent.

Think of it as an inward investment World Cup, where the results take months, even years, to gestate.

MIPIM takes place in Cannes. Yes, Cannes in the south of France. That’s right, the place where they hold the film festival.

Well, I suppose if you want to attract the global investors with the really big money, you can hardly hold it in Hartlepool (no offence to Hartlepool, you understand).

I first went to MIPIM when I worked as the business editor at the Derby Telegraph.

A key piece of advice that was given to me before I went was to make sure I wore comfortable shoes.

Once there, I think I saw daylight on three occasions throughout the whole week.

The rest was spent rushing around from meeting to meeting, presentation to presentation. It could well have been Hartlepool for all I saw of Cannes!

It was very hard work. Despite my sensible choice of footwear (Clarks not Gucci), I remember when I got home, I had to soak my feet in a bowl of water, such was the pace.

Following a break due to Covid, MIPIM returned as a physical event this year – and Derby and Derbyshire sent a small delegation to test the water (and no doubt soak their feet in it afterwards).

They were part of the government-backed UK Pavilion – and were there to showcase the recently updated Derby Investment Prospectus and the brand-new Derbyshire Investment Prospectus, which, combined, offer more than £2 billion of investment opportunities. (Read the full story here.)

According to feedback from the team, both prospectuses went down well with investors – and have sparked some important conversations.

A lot of work goes on to attract investment to Derby and Derbyshire, the majority of which is done away from the glare of publicity.

However, proof that our guys are getting it right was evidenced in the latest fDi Awards, organised by The Financial Times.

Derbyshire was named in the top 10 for having the best inward investment strategy in Europe. Derbyshire was the only UK location on that list. (Read the full story here.)

The award was collected at a ceremony held during MIPIM.

Was I at MIPIM? No, not this year. But I did report on it remotely thanks to the miracle of modern technology. Curse you, miracle of modern technology!

Anyway, according to some members of the team, the weather in Cannes during MIPIM week was cold. Just wait there a minute while I fetch my violin!

While Team Derby and Derbyshire were shivering in Cannes, some important stories were breaking back home.

Derby City Council and St James Securities announced it had signed a deal with ASM Global to operate the new Becketwell performance venue, effectively giving the green light for building work to start. (Read the full story here.)

This came hot on the heels of St James Securities announcing its development partner for future phases of the £200 million Becketwell scheme – Peveril Securities, which is the development arm of the Bowmer + Kirkland Group. (Read the full story here.)

And the University of Derby lodged its plans for a new business school in the city centre, which will form part of its wider City Masterplan vision – a project that was promoted at MIPIM. (Read the full story here.)

In the wider county, it was great to see Wavensmere Homes and Chevin Homes unveil their plans for the historic Milford Mills site. (Read the full story here.)

Wavnesmere is, of course, the developer behind the 900-home Nightingale Quarter scheme in Derby.

And in March, the firm celebrated a landmark with a topping out ceremony for the first apartment block on the site. (Read the full story here.)

There was also some good investment news for the wider region, with the East Midlands Freeport being rubber-stamped by the Government. (Read the full story here.)

In terms of new investments, the story about £35 million being ploughed into upgrading Etches Park, allowing it to service and maintain East Midlands Railway’s new fleet of Aurora trains, caught the eye. (Read the full story here.)

And there was evidence that Derby’s major employers are back firing on all cylinders, with Rolls-Royce reporting a return to profit in its full-year results. (Read the full story here.)

Of course, not everything went our way in March.

For example, we found out that Derby had not made it onto the final shortlist of four to become the UK City of Culture 2025. (Read the full story here.)

Yes, it’s a shame we didn’t make it all the way – but the city’s bid has established relationships and a groundswell of support that will serve us in good stead when we bid for 2029.

That support was garnered in double-quick time because Derby’s decision to put itself forward was done so at the last-minute.

Some cities had been working on their bids for years, but still never made the longlist of eight – which Derby did.

Derby’s ambition and determination remains undimmed – borne out by the fact that the city has thrown its hat into the ring for another big national “competition” – to be the home of Great British Railways. (Read the full story here.)

To land it will bring a myriad of economic benefits, but like City of Culture, the competition is fierce. No less than 48 places have submitted an expression of interest.

But come on, what better place to base GBR than Derby, home to Europe’s largest cluster of rail companies? Yes, of course I’m biased – I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t!

Before I wrap up this piece – and thank you for reading this far – I’d just like to end on one final thought, and it relates back to MIPIM.

Perhaps one of the most poignant images I saw from MIPIM 2022 was taken by our managing director, John Forkin.

It was of a sign where the stand for the Ukrainian Delegation of Real Estate Players should have been.

They should have been there showcasing developments in cities like Kyiv, Lviv and Kharkiv – cities, which the Russians have since laid waste to.

The sign read: “Unfortunately, due to the dramatic events in Ukraine, we could not be present as we are defending our country, our freedom.”

It really does put everything into perspective, doesn’t it?

It’s why last month Marketing Derby welcomed the Derby Branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain into its Bondholder community.

It’s also why so many of our Bondholders are doing things to raise cash to support the Ukrainian people.

The world is a far scarier place than it was compared to just two years ago. A pandemic and now a war in Europe.

But by standing together – and working together – not just against a war or a pandemic, but in everyday life, whether it is attracting inward investment, collaborating with fellow businesses, or even joining a march to save Derby County, together we can prevail.

Have a safe and productive April and I look forward to catching up again soon.

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