The four i’s

Professor David Greenaway, Vice Chancellor at Nottingham University has recently set out a view on how Nottingham should prepare itself for the next few years. And he has summed it up as “the four i’s”.


They are – Investment, Infrastructure, Innovation and International.

This really resonates – especially after spending a week in Cannes “selling” the City.

In Nottingham we already tick so many boxes:

Investment – it is what we are seeking – people to throw money our way. We are generating the right environment to attract it. It will be lifeblood of the city.

Infrastructure – we have c.£750m worth of works underway – Tram, A453 and ring road improvements. These underpin the future connectivity of the city. This future-proofs us. It is critical.

Innovation – our message last week was all about the pool of talent in the city – Ibuprofen and MRI were invested here! We have some very bright people and a hot bed of talent at our Universities, BioCity and the creative quarters.

International – we were in Cannes – but more importantly the city have strong links (through the University) with China and Malaysia. The world is getting smaller – we can trade with it.

We have so many great stories to tell and this great mnemonic is easy to remember and easy to deliver on. It is a very simplified message which can be universally translated and used. Our “Talented Nottingham’ message last week slots nicely into it!

MIPIM 2014

Well the news is that Nottingham will be going to MIPIM 2014.

Matthew le lit dans le chien merde apartments

Matthew le lit dans le chien merde apartments

Following our (the private sector) handing back the reigns to the City Council in the summer – great progress has been made on the what the City will be doing in the south of France in March of next year.

More sponsors have come forward – it’s a big and influential team. We are working on a clear message – this is important. Key people from the City will be there and the bigger team looks as though it will take Cannes by storm. I’m delighted the City has raised it’s game and is going with a strong a presence as we have ever had.

We have some new things – including the use of some new advances in technology – I’ll blog about that later!

We have booked the apartment “Innes England” (Matthew Hannah has had nothing to do with this after the debacle of le chien merde apartments a few years ago). It will be the power base! And ‘nap’ palace. The flights are being looked at – but there is a suggestion we may well go by train…

I already have invites to respond to. As the market seems to be a little more ‘cheery’ this could be a critical MIPIM for us. This could be the start of the next cycle – and we need to be there shouting about the City.

We won’t be at the RipOff Blu Hotel – we have much bigger and better plans.

As you might have gathered I haven’t quite given up my involvement entirely. Together with a couple of the MIPIM diehards – we are on a steering group – to make sure there is still a major part to play by the private sector.

Roll on March?

The market whimpers?

It’s been a little while since I blogged about the state of the market. It’s hard to try and find a story about what is happening in my professional world – when every month its the same old story – flat, flat, flat.

I was asked by a client last week whether the market had improved – there are stories about transactions taking place. I’m not sure I agree with that. I think the number of enquiries are up – we have more people looking around, but that’s a long way from deals happening.

Sadly deals are harder and harder to do. It’s a mixture of uncertainty over the actual value and the fact that the amount of due diligence from the Banking sector is at a level where every single i needs to be dotted and each t must be crossed. You can’t blame them – they had their fingers badly burned a few years ago…

I picked up my Property Investor Bulletin last week – it does show a bit of life in the market – but not as much as 2012 or 2011. We are slightly ahead of 2010. But the figures are hopelessly skewed by the London market. The two graphs below demonstrate nicely the state of play.

In terms of yields they have weakened in the last six months – but these are averages and the figures are minuscule changes as to make the figures a bit academic. The market remains flat!

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 17.40.15

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 17.40.52

Nottingham – future good news?

I had my newsletter last week from the Chief Executives office at the City. It made for some positive reading. Here are some extracts…


Since July the City Council, together with public and private sectors partners, has started to put the Growth Plan into action; making good progress on some of the key projects:

· Work on Nottingham’s Enterprise Zone is set to get underway, with the announcement last week of a £25m funding package for the redevelopment of the Boots campus.
· The City are close to finalising the finance package for the £37.5m Nottingham Investment Fund. It is expected to be finalised around Christmastime, and the Fund to be opened to applicants early in the New Year.
· The City has also been successful in their £10m Regional Growth Fund bid for the Nottingham Technology Grant Fund, which will provide grant funding for technology-based business.
· The Government has confirmed £1m City Deal funding for the Generation Y programme, which will provide a range of support to young entrepreneurs (aged between 16 and 35).
· The Apprenticeship Hub was launched this month, aiming to create 1,000 high quality apprenticeships that meet the needs of employers.

There is still much to do though. The City is still slipping behind – particularly in shopping terms. The Broadmarsh situation doesn’t help. In fact, at the weekend, I was really uninspired by the Victoria Centre too. If it weren’t for John Lewis (Jessops!) I can’t really think of a reason to be there. House of Fraser is like a jumble sale – and at the other end of the place. I don’t mind the walk if there is something to look at a long the way – but there isn’t. Bridlesmith Gate seems, on the other hand, to be improving – with some new shops – including Hugo Boss. I am convinced that a better retail offer will make the city feel a whole lot better!

The Banks big sell….

It has been long a policy of Banks to cross sell to their customers. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I use internet banking. I get fed up of refusing Insurance, ISA’s or currency for Europe – depending on the day of the week. It was a good reason to stop going into a branch.

But I needed to pay a cheque in a few weeks ago to a well known High Street Bank – it was a reasonable amount – although after paying tax it wasn’t exactly life changing. But the cashier was perplexed by it. I thought for a few moment that it was forged – or was payable to Mickey Mouse? But it wasn’t.

He asked me very politely why I wanted to pay it into the particular account. Why? Because I chose to do so. He then disappeared – to reappear with the Bank manager. She was equally polite. Asking the same question. Why?

I began to feel guilty. But insisted I was a (nearly) responsible adult and knew what I was doing. ALthough secretly I may have had some doubts.

It seemed they wanted me to pay it into their supa-duper-mega-wonga-earning-no.54 account. Which was better than the one I had.

I refused. And for my insistence had to fill a form in – absolving them of all liability for my apparent stupidity. I’m sure I actually signed as such, viz. I acknowledge I am a complete numpty.

And then this week, I took a call from my internet based bank (the one I communicate through my computer to). They wanted to see me. To chat about my account. Which was not a great one apparently … Kind of them to point it out – but I’m now getting fed up of them cross selling at every level.

I think they think they’re being helpful. I just feel harassed.

MIPIM 2012 – Nottingham and the UK Regeneration pilot scheme

It is always good to have something announced at MIPIM and we had a great surprise last night.

UK Regeneration announced that Nottingham has been selected for the very first of a new national pilot scheme for a ‘village’ development. The site has been elected – although the deal is not complete, it is likely to happen in the next week or so. This will be a brilliant new £30m project for Nottingham.

I was lucky enough to be at the official announcement last night at MIPIM – and I also sat next to Jackie Sadek, CEO of UKR at the Nottingham Dinner last night. She is a real enthusiast about the scheme, but also about Nottingham too. She was highly complimentary about Nottingham’s approach to them as they sought a pilot scheme across the Country.

Turning to the scheme itself, this is a first. The best way I can describe it is a student style village for grown-ups. It will be a really high quality development – aimed at young professionals. It will have a mixed-use feel – including coffee shops, dry-ckeaners and a data centre. Connectivity is one of our themes this week at MIPIM – and this development will be connected.

It is to be based at the former Sandfield Centre on Derby Road – and will be renamed The Sandfield Village. There are no start dates as yet, but commercial funding through Barclays is in place.

With the announcement of the Enterprise Zone yesterday and this story today – the future is looking bright for Nottingham!

More later on the Dinner last night….

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, MIPIM2013, Nottingham Tagged Another Place, David Bishop, , Jackie Sadek, MIPIM 2012, Notingham, Sandfield Centre, The Sandfield Village, UK Regeneration

2011 figures – the property market cries!

I have finally got my long awaited property statistics from PropertyData for 2011. They publish the ‘deals done’ from which we can glean a picture of the state of health of the market. This is a fairly narrow snap-shot – it is only the commercial sector – but then only income producing investment properties.

We can glean two things from the data – firstly the volume of trading, secondly the yields people are paying. Yields reflect the risk – the higher the yield the higher the risk. But the higher the yield, the lower the price paid.

The average yields on property are now firmly stuck – 6.27% for the last 12 months. Values are flat – the 3 month average was 6.69% and the 6 month 6.47%.

But the real starry is the dip from 2010 in terms of volumes. The graph shown demonstrates this all too well. We are £4bn down on the same 12 month period to December 2010. But, more tellingly we are are £14bn down form the peak of 2007.

I was surprised by the yield – which I think as an average shows a higher general level values than I had expected. But if you delve a little deeper, you see that nearly one third of transactions took place in the central London office market. That shows a huge skew in the figures!

Property looks to be a good bet on the basis of returns elsewhere, but the fundamental issue is that you can’t get bank borrowing easily. Income producing property might be showing a lack of growth in the current climate (rents are pretty static) and we keep seeing bad news about occupiers, denting confidence still further.

It might be some time before we see some shift in this situation?

Property – the rain continues

It’s been a pretty dismal summer? First it was too dry, now it seems to be very wet. Especially the weekends.

And hot on the heels of the ‘summer’ comes the release of the second quarter headline figures from PropertyData. Perhaps not surprisingly they say:

·The total value of UK commercial property investment transactions in Q2 2011 was £6.45 billion, down 29% on the same period for 2010
·UK institutional net investment fell to £194m for the last three months, against £916m in the first quarter.
·Banks sold over £1 billion of commercial property during the quarter
·Overseas investors were the largest purchaser of UK commercial property, spending £2.14 billion in Q2

Not great news then. But hardly surprising. This is not a market going anywhere in a hurry – as I noted from the data before it is ‘flat-lining’. The first statistic is the telling one – transactions are down by 29%. That shows that if you don’t need to sell at the moment – you shouldn’t. The Institutions are being cautious and the reality is that they drive the market. Banks are getting out of property too.

It is difficult to see and end to this bad news. The economy bumps along. Businesses predominantly remain sat on their hands. All too often I hear that the principal strategy for businesses is ‘survival’. No mention of growth or expansion then?

We are also in that horrible catch-22 situation where if a big requirement arrived on our doorstep from an external investor / occupier we don’t have the stock – and the reality is that the plans for the stock probably are 12 months away – if you pressed the ‘go’ button today.

We had hoped to see a market return in the latter part of this year – but I can’t help but wonder if we will, like last time, crawl out of recession over a 12/18 month period?

Roll on 2013….

Invest in Nottingham – in London

I was in London last night – with my friends from Invest in Nottingham. It was another event to promote Nottingham – as a follow on to the work done at MIPIM back in March.

The event was held at the newly opened St Pancras Hotel. It’s very easy to get to – no taxi’s from the Station! Just a short walk down the platform. I had travelled with a number of fellow ‘promoters’ in First Class style – at a discount from East Midland Trains.

The new Hotel is an amazing annexe to the already brilliant St Pancras Station. The hotel is simply stunning – the train station isn’t bad either! The finishes are fantastic. These intertwined pieces of Victorian architecture really are jewels. They were built in an era of massive growth in the UK and they were very public trophies proudly displayed by their owners.

And that’s what we were doing on Wednesday; showing off Nottingham to a London crowd. It was all about meeting investors and promoting the City. We want people to put their money in our town. We need inward investment; there are competitors out there. But we have some great stories to tell. We are at the heart of the Midlands.

There were more than 120 guests, investors, end users and developers at the event, invited by the City’s business contacts. It was a very impressive turn out!

Capital Shopping Centres, Westfield, BioCity, our two first-class universities and our very strong professional sector were among those helping to extol the virtues of Nottingham as a great place to do business. Team Nottingham worked the floor hard!

I thought the whole event went well and hopefully this will turn into real enquiries for development or occupiers.

Nottingham at MIPIM 2012

As you will know if you follow my blog regularly I was heavily involved in Nottingham’s presence at MIPIM 2011. We went on a budget, punched well above our weight and by all accounts enjoyed success as a group of private sector firms doing their bit for the wider benefit of the City.

We had our post-MIPIM post-mortem last week at Nottingham Contemporary. I think I can now give tours! After the tour we settled down for a meal in the cafe and had a chance to reflect on 2011. By all accounts the firms who put their hard earned cash into the event were pleased with their investment. The cocktail party in Cannes was regarded as the best event – we had a very good turnout – and the quality of guests was really high. There were some excellent networking opportunities.

Although much of what we do is ‘slow-burn’ there were some success stories. One of the partners in Team Nottingham is quoting for work worth a six-figure sum as a direct result of a meeting at MIPIM. That is money coming into Nottingham. It could have gone elsewhere.

I have met two potential investors and developers as a direct result of MIPIM – and hope that one of them may pursue one of Nottingham’s biggest regeneration challenges.

What was really interesting was the commitment now for 2012. Everyone is in from the private sector. All of the private sector partners felt that the time,, money and effort added a positive to their business. We don’t have to justify that to anyone other than ourselves. The public sector have more of a challenge – in demonstrating ‘value for money’. I doubt that their position will have changed – but their presence is essential. The private sector may well need to pay for their attending again.

So it looks like the work to build on the success of the last few years will need to start all over again. March 2012 seems a long way off, but it amazing how quickly time flies…