MIPIM ambiance, c PNW

MIPIM runs 12-15 March 2024 in Cannes. Credit: PNW

MIPIM | Why Greater Manchester authorities are off to Cannes

MIPIM coverage sponsored by TogetherThe international property conference officially begins on Tuesday, but starting today thousands will begin arriving in Cannes – including representatives from Salford, Rochdale, Wigan, Stockport, Manchester, and Trafford councils.

They will be joining other local authorities in attending MIPIM, a list that includes North West neighbours Liverpool City Council, Wirral Council, and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

But why go to the South of France for a four-day built environment convention? Manchester City Council has been making its case for Cannes on Place North West in the past weeks, so we reached out to Greater Manchester’s other authorities to hear their point of view.

There were three reasons for going to MIPIM that dominated each of the discussions we had: deal making, place promotion, and learning.


Let’s get to the financial side first.

Deals require a connection, and MIPIM – with its crowd of 23,000 property professionals from across the globe – is rife with connection potential.

Salford City Council chief executive Tom Stannard explained: “We get connections we wouldn’t get and we don’t have time to nurture in the UK market.”

That includes more than just investors from other countries, with MIPIM also helping further relationships with developers and funds that are based in London and the South East, which usually stick to their home turf, Stannard continued. These groups will make the exception for an expo like MIPIM, providing a chance for local authorities to meet them and sell them on their regeneration vision.

It also helps cement those relationships that have already been formed with companies operating in the North.

“People just don’t have the time in their day job when they’re running schemes and projects to do the networking bit, so we refresh those connections,” Stannard stated.

“A great example from MIPIM last year, if we hadn’t been there and got a meeting via one of our financial advisory partners, we would not have a deal we’ve now got for a pretty significant city centre residential scheme,” Stannard said – and then politely declined to share any specifics.

“When we go to MIPIM, we do business like that,” he went on. “We don’t just go there for the sake of sitting on panels and touting our historic achievements – we go there to make connections and do business with the future.”

Rochdale Council director of economy and place Mark Robinson put it more succinctly: “It’s a global opportunity. You can meet people you would not otherwise meet in Rochdale, and then you come back, you develop those relationships, and you deliver those projects back in the UK.”


MIPIM can seem like the land of cities – with large stands for London, Liverpool, Manchester, and Newcastle. Being able to be part of the Manchester umbrella has its advantages for local authorities that may not have the same name recognition of the city.

Stannard pointed out that Salford has a strong brand of its own, but having a single Manchester brand – which acts as a surrogate for Greater Manchester – has benefits when it comes to the international stage.

“For the Chinese investor market interested in the UK, what do they look at first after London? It’s Manchester,” he said.

He added that being included in team Manchester “just opens up conversations that there is no way we would be having if the 10 of us were all exhibiting separately”.

The boroughs offer something back to the Manchester brand in turn, pointed out Wigan Council director of place Aidan Thatcher.

“We show that if we’re talking about Manchester, we’re not just talking about Manchester city centre and skyscrapers – we’re talking about the rest of conurbation where the family housing is and the wider opportunities that aren’t in office blocks,” Thatcher said.

“It’s really important that that investment community can see that we have that wider pool.”

There is also a symbiotic relationship between the boroughs and the major city they surround.

“A strong Manchester is good for Rochdale and a strong Rochdale is good for Manchester,” Robinson said. “The stronger we are, the better it is for the city and the wider region. I think we all recognise the benefit from working as a collective.”

Stockport Council chief executive Caroline Simpson was of a similar mind – MIPIM is both a time to celebrate her borough as well as the city region.

“We’re there to absolutely fly the flag for Stockport as an investable place, and to make new contacts, build relationships, cement existing relationships,” she said. “But really also to fly the flag for Greater Manchester.”

Greater Manchester itself is also befitting of a global platform, according to Rochdale’s Robinson.

“The level of opportunity we’ve got in Greater Manchester deserves that profile at an international level,” Robinson said.

He wants to see sites like the 17m sq ft Atom Valley – which includes Northern Gateway, Kingsway Business Park, and Stakehill – getting the attention they deserve from global investors and companies.

He doubled down on Northern Gateway – “that’s an opportunity that’s of international significance,” he said. “It’s important not just for Manchester, but for the UK.”

Then there is the buzz-generating potential of MIPIM. Thatcher will be using the expo to make an announcement about a Wigan project, which will be made at the Manchester stand on Wednesday at 4:45pm.

Thatcher explained why he has chosen to unveil new intel in Cannes rather than at home.

“The value at MIPIM is it really gets some excitement about the place,” he said. “So if we can do it there, then that spearheads a lot of conversations with people in the room that may or may not hear about it otherwise.

“If we do it on a general Thursday, it would be in the press. but if people aren’t actually looking at that, then they’re missing it,” he continued. “At MIPIM, we get the benefit of the press and the excitement of the conversation that happens at the same time.”

Stockport has, in the past, also chosen to do an unveiling at an expo – announcing the development partner for Stockport 8 at UKREiiF last year. Simpson said there would be no big news unveiling at MIPIM this year. Instead, the Stockport message in Cannes is one of action.

“This is Stockport’s biggest year yet for delivery and implementation,” she said. “We’ve got a massive pipeline underway already and a plan about what’s coming up in the next couple of years as well.”


As much as MIPIM is about securing investment for a local authority, it is also a learning opportunity.

“It’s important to look outside and see what others are doing,” Stockport’s Simpson said. “So I will be making time to really look at not only what other regions in the UK are doing and how they’re presenting themselves and what their offer is, but trying to get a little bit further afield as well.”

Likewise, Salford’s Stannard said he reserves a few hours each day to browse the surrounding stands. He makes a point to look at European cities as well as others in the UK.

“I do naturally go and have a look at Greater London and see what they’re doing – because the way that they exhibit to the world is very relevant for Greater Manchester and how we pitch ourselves,” he said.

Stannard will also be keeping an eye on how other international cities have tackled waterfront-led regeneration to see how Salford compares.

“The connection between how we’ve done that and how other cities in Europe have done – that is a really interesting kind of parallel that we can learn from as well,” he said. “So, we pick up stuff galore that is really valuable to us as economic development practitioners.”

Rochdale’s Robinson said he was especially interested to check out the Stockholm stand to hear how they are developing their cultural and digital sectors. He said he would also be keeping an eye out for different policies concerning transport.

“We’re always interested in how other places handle public transport and how they integrate land use planning with transport,” he said.

Wigan’s Thatcher said he will be looking at stands representing countries beyond just Europe.

“I’m excited to see how some of these real big growth areas across the world are presenting themselves,” he said. “So you think about India and other countries that are further west of that – they do some things really differently to how we do them. While we might not copy what they do, there are elements of what they’re doing that we can bring to actually get things moving a bit quicker here in the UK.”


MIPIM runs through 15 March in Cannes. Catch all of Place’s coverage of the property expo at our MIPIM hub.

Place North West’s MIPIM 2024 coverage is sponsored by Together.

Your Comments

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Yes, of course, how could a Greater Manchester-based local authority ever hope to meet investors from such exotic climes as ‘London’ and ‘the South East’ without a week in Cannes? Makes complete sense…

By Salfordian

    Hi Salfordian – I have updated this story to more accurately reflect Tom Stannard’s point. In our talk it was clear that MIPIM was about international relationships AS WELL AS those closer to home. Apologies that I may have implied it was only about meeting those from the South. That was incorrect. Thanks for reading. – J

    By Julia Hatmaker

Nonsense. MIPIM is washed up and has been for years. There are no meetings that you can’t conduct in London or Manchester. LAs should focus on UKREIIF, a domestic conference with more than enough opportunity to attract institutional investors. Another point – if LAs need to go out and develop their own investment leads and deals, what on earth are the professional agents doing? Another example of LAs trying to do everything themselves and then failing miserably as they don’t have the experience in house.

By John W

Have a great time everyone.

By Johnny the Boss

A lot of hot air to justify a nice spring break in a 5 star hotel at the council tax payers’ expense. It is NW authorities talking to NW property people about ‘opportunities’ that have been touted for years….and long may it continue!!

By William Hesketh

In my experience, most of the officers that go to MIPIM, would much prefer an afternoon in Leeds. It’s not the jolly it seems and they wouldn’t go if they did not see the benefit.

By Local Interest

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