As delegates across the region returned from the first MIPIM UK, with a repeat conference confirmed by organisers for next year, there were mixed views on how the North West had presented itself and who would return for 2015.
Manchester and Liverpool chose to host a joint stand, right in the centre of the conference space. Sean Beech, chairman of the steering committee for Liverpool at MIPIM and partner at Deloitte, told Place North West that while two separate representations at MIPIM in Cannes could be expected, unification at MIPIM UK made the most sense. “In the UK, given the political climate, Liverpool and Manchester are seen as the only bit of the UK that can compete with London. It’s not about promoting individual schemes – if one projects gets investment, then everyone benefits.”
Knowsley’s decision to exhibit separately to the Manchester and Liverpool raised eyebrows, with Beech commenting on Twitter that the move was “disappointing” and said the council was “ploughing a lonely and costly furrow at MIPIM UK”.
Colin Sinclair, director of Bruntwood, described Knowsley’s choice as a “local authority own goal” and said: “I don’t understand why Knowsley was there on its own – there is a need to get behind the city regions as a brand and for the public sector to be supporting the private sector priorities. It was using taxpayer’s money and it didn’t seem joined up with the private sector.”
Dale Milburn, director of business and sustainability at Knowsley Council, pointed out that Knowsley’s decision was not about going separately, but whether to attend at all. “We recently came up with a place plan, supported by the private sector, and one of the key points within that, on how to promote the area, was to exhibit at MIPIM UK. As a home for business and investment in the UK, we wanted to express ourselves. If we were just on the Liverpool stand I don’t think we would have had recognition. We were still there supporting the city region, and I believe us being there complemented the city region and gave it greater prominence.”
Matthew Fitton, development manager at Peel Ports, spent most of his time on the stand representing Peel projects in the area, specifically the Knowsley 700 logistics site. He said he felt that the Knowsley exhibit had worked well in conjunction with the dynamic on the Manchester Liverpool stand, with Knowsley “obviously seeking to make a statement about what they could offer”. According to Fitton, the more “intimate affair” of MIPIM UK had led to a steady footfall, with “a focused and intense amount of people coming by”.
Making the most of MIPIM
On the Manchester and Liverpool stand 10 interactive screens gave the city regions an opportunity to showcase their different priorities. Liverpool emphasised specific projects rather than partners, and Manchester highlighted key investment areas, with a spotlight on Bolton, Stockport, and its close neighbour West Cheshire. Liverpool brought along the majority of the private sector representation, including Capital & Centric, Bruntwood and Deloitte.
Similarly to MIPIM proper in Cannes, utilising the time for meetings was top of the list of priorities.
Mark Hawthorn, director and co-founder of Landmark Investment Group, said: “I had around 15 pre-arranged meetings which went well, and that’s a side of MIPIM that makes sense. The Manchester and Liverpool stand was a good place to be, particularly if you had a spare 10 minutes to bump into people, or catch up with those already representing on the stand. The conference isn’t necessarily the point, it acts as a honey pot to get people all in one place.”
Abid Jaffry, head of Lambert Smith Hampton in Manchester agreed, and said: “I scheduled a lot of meetings beforehand, so in that way it was similar to Cannes. The conference crystalised the location and ensured there were a lot of useful people in one place, so was good for networking.”
Adam Higgins, director of Capital & Centric, went as part of the Manchester & Liverpool stand. He said: “The event was very useful, if we did it again we would go for longer. With six months since MIPIM in Cannes it was a good opportunity to catch up with public sector leaders. We like the two cities being joined up – we operate equally across both so it was good to not have to choose sides. Hopefully it will pick up a head of steam next year, I think this time people weren’t so sure what to make of it.”
Away from the Manchester and Liverpool conurbations, only South Lakeland Council of the remaining North West authorities exhibited, with representation from Lancashire and Cumbria otherwise thin on the ground. According to Michael Keane, assistant director of South Lakeland Council, the authority wanted to demonstrate itself as a “counterpoint to the city offer, proving that South Lakeland is not just about farming”. With a local plan recently approved and in place, the stand message to potential investors was that Lancashire was for more than just tourists, it was “green space with potential”.
Plans for next year
LSH’s Jaffry, said: “Manchester and Liverpool presented really well – the offer was very switched on and very positive. Knowsley exhibiting separately showed that they had moved themselves forward and want to grow. Representation across the North West now needs to develop and get stronger for next year.”
With MIPIM UK 2015 scheduled to be held again at the Olympia conference centre in London, some North West attendees called for MIPIM UK to give more support to its regional exhibitors.
Bruntwood’s Sinclair said: “The Manchester and Liverpool offer was brilliant, with great support from the leadership of both councils. However, if MIPIM UK is held in London again it will struggle – the organisers need to grow it and make more of it in the regions, and if it is the same venue and the same format next year I think people will have to be seriously persuaded to give time to it.”
Liverpool MIPIM steering group chairman Beech said: “We were surprised at the high quality and level of enquiries for the city region. We also held a number of events off stand which we would look to deliver next year.
“We are currently evaluating the leads generated however we hope to once more exhibit at MIPIM UK – if we do it will be together with Manchester.”
A spokesman for Manchester confirmed that it had plans to return with Liverpool for MIPIM UK 2015.