The numbers add up as Birmingham bounces back

Snow Hill Masterplan

Birmingham is a city on the up. But don’t just take my word for it – as the Financial Times recently stated:

The grand opening of Birmingham’s redesigned central station is the latest symbol of a city that has bounced back from recession stronger than most of its rivals, with higher levels of inward investment, faster export growth and better job creation.

I’ll expand on that with some numbers for you:

Now of course success or failure can never truly be measured or illustrated by statistics alone but I’m sure you’ll agree that the figures I’ve listed paint a picture of a city that’s on the up.

And if you take a look behind the statistics you’ll find the stories that really matter. You’ll find the stories of Brummies doing what they’ve always done in challenging times – bouncing back.

There are many reasons for the successes listed above. If you like, it’s a team effort from enterprising individuals through to big multinational organisations. And I’m proud of the fact that the city council continues to play its part in the latest renaissance of a city that makes a habit of bouncing back from hard times stronger than ever before.

Take our efforts to attract entrepreneurs for example. With almost 20,000 new businesses created in the past year, Birmingham has become the leading start-up hub outside of London. That’s another statistic for you.

Businesses are attracted by a range of factors, including affordable rents, the close proximity of several universities and of course council incentives to invest in the city.

In listing big money schemes and developments, it’s most definitely not my intention to downplay the twin challenges of poverty and deprivation in this city. I entered politics to fight for the most vulnerable across our city and I will continue to do so.

That’s why job creation and economic regeneration matter so much. The jobs created by the initiatives listed above benefit people across the city and attract more people to make our city their home.

Investment in this city must benefit the many not the few and that’s the challenge that continues to motivate me.


One million shoppers descend on Grand Central

New St - Grand Central

Grand Central has taken Birmingham by storm in its first two weeks of trading, drawing in over one million people in just a matter of days.

After a highly anticipated five-year wait, Grand Central is surpassing all predictions and expectations in terms of consumer visits, sales numbers, dwell time and average spend. With 66 new retailers and restaurants being brought to the city, the crowds of excited and expectant shoppers and diners certainly have something to celebrate, and are demonstrating this through their spending power.

In its opening weekend alone, Grand Central welcomed over 300,000 people through their doors. The million milestone had been passed on Wednesday evening and with Halloween just around the corner, marking the start of the festive party season, the numbers are set to increase steadily towards Christmas.

The success is being felt across the full roster of retail and dining brands. Some retailers have reported a 95% increase on their initial expected sales targets. Similarly, the demand for the dining offering has been so high that one outlet has hired an additional 20 staff members, growing its team from 12 to 32 in just two weeks in order to ensure it meets the demands placed on it by the buoyant Birmingham public.

Jonathan Cheetham, general manager for Grand Central, said; “The million customers is just one aspect of Grand Central’s success. More importantly, our retailers’ tills are ringing and the restaurants are full. Furthermore there are even more jobs being created and the feedback from our visitors is that they love the centre, are proud of it to be in the City, and will be returning.”

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, added; “The early visitor numbers and reports from traders at Grand Central are staggering and confirm it is a transformational regeneration project for the city – solidifying Birmingham’s position at the top of the retail league table.

“The increased footfall, which we hope will continue into the busy Christmas period and beyond, will benefit not only the retailers within the new complex, but those based in the wider city centre too.

“Creating in the region of 1,000 jobs and a positive buzz about Birmingham, it is already very clear the council’s move to purchase the former Pallasades complex to help facilitate the New Street Station redevelopment and the creation of Grand Central was a crucial decision for the city’s economy and transport infrastructure.

“Grand Central has quickly become yet another essential reason to visit Birmingham and I would like to thank everyone involved from the staff at the various outlets to Grand Central management to all of the visitors for this early success.”


For more information or interviews with key personnel, please contact:

Christie Galloway on 0121 200 0910 /

Growth Hub launched to support Greater Birmingham businesses

  • Service launched at event on 7th October
  • Initiative aims to assist 10,000 businesses and create 500 new local jobs
  • Growth Hub website has already secured over 5,000 unique visitors

Local companies have been urged to take advantage of the Greater Birmingham Growth Hub, which launched today at an event attended by over 300 entrepreneurs, business leaders and stakeholders.

Run by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), the Growth Hub comprises a web portal, phoneline and one-to-one specialist advice. It is the new home for all business advice, funding and support in the area – providing a route for businesses to local organisations offering business support or funding.

Though particularly focused on small and medium sized businesses within the GBSLEP area, the Growth Hub is designed to assist companies along the region’s supply chains and across all sectors.

Mark Sayers, Deputy Director of Business Productivity and Growth Programmes at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, and Saqib Bhatti, GBSLEP Director and President of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce, both spoke at the launch event, which was held at Birmingham Hippodrome.

Mark Sayers outlined the importance of the Growth Hub during his speech, stating:

“SMEs are pumping £1.3 trillion into the economy and are responsible for 50% of private sector employment. Encouraging these businesses to scale up, innovate, secure funding, export and access new markets is key to unlocking growth.

“Combining all the local and national services available in Greater Birmingham will provide the greatest benefits‎ to businesses. The Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP and its Growth Hub will have a strong role to play in this.”

A further 18 companies and organisations exhibiting at the event – including national bodies UK Trade & Investment and the Manufacturing Advisory Service – provided free advice to delegates.

During the next 12 months, the Growth Hub will help with 7,200 business enquiries and contribute to creating 500 new jobs. The Hub is progressing strongly already, with its site – – receiving over 5,000 unique visitors and handling more than 300 enquiries and requests for support.

The Growth Hub’s webs portal enables business owners to access information and advice about how to start, grow, run and finance their company effectively. Its tailored information directs users to the most appropriate information and support for them. Downloadable step by step guides, films and free event listings are also available online.

To date, the website’s sections about starting a business have become the most popular; reflecting Greater Birmingham’s strength as a start-up hotspot. In Birmingham alone, more than 18,000 firms were set up in 2014, more than any other UK city outside London, according to StartUp Britain.

Local businesses are also continuing to boost employment across the region. The GBSLEP area created 40,800 private jobs during 2014, according to the Office of National Statistics – growing at 6%, well above the national growth rate of 4.3%.

Growth Hub Manager Ian Mclaughlan said:

“Greater Birmingham’s economy is going from strength to strength – and our local companies deserve first class advice and support so they can grow, and recruit, even further. The growth of Greater Birmingham’s businesses, large and small, is crucial to its economic success, which is why the Growth Hub is such an important initiative for the GBSLEP.

“The Growth Hub is designed to make it much easier for firms to find the right support for them. From setting up a company to exporting, recruiting, securing funding or developing new products – there is information and guidance available for business owners based right across Greater Birmingham. Any business that wants to grow, or needs any kind of help, should contact the Growth Hub team as a one-stop-shop for advice.”

The initiative is part of the Government’s Small Business Strategy, with all 39 LEPs in the UK setting up a Growth Hub for local business advice. The Greater Birmingham Growth Hub will be serving one of the largest business communities in the country.

Birmingham-based manufacturer Radshape Sheet Metal has already used the services of a key Growth Hub partner, Finance Birmingham. It secured £1 million funding to invest in essential tools for the production of parts for a future Bentley vehicle. Finance Birmingham provided the funding as part of its £24m Tooling Funding Programme, which has been supported by the Regional Growth Fund.

Keith Chadwick, Managing Director, Radshape Sheet Metal, said:

“The support we received from Finance Birmingham has played a pivotal role in securing this new contract from Bentley and our future as a business. The funding we have received for tooling is simply unavailable from more traditional sources of finance.”


Picture caption: (left-right) Growth Hub manager Ian Mclaughlan, GBSLEP director Saqib Bhatti, deputy director of Business Productivity and Growth Programmes at BIS Mark Sayers, and GBSLEP programme delivery director Mike Carr.

Media contact

Rebecca Bannister, Communications Manager at Marketing Birmingham: 0121 202 5112 / 07903 924 896 /

Notes to editors

For more information on the Growth Hub or to register, please call the local helpline on 0800 032 3488 visit or email

The key partners supporting the Growth Hub comprise:

  • Aston Business School
  • Birmingham City Council
  • Birmingham City University
  • Business Growth Services
  • Cannock Chase Council
  • Digital Birmingham
  • East Staffordshire Borough Council
  • Finance Birmingham
  • The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
  • Innovation Birmingham Campus
  • North Worcestershire EDR and Worcestershire Business Central
  • Marketing Birmingham
  • Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Stoke on Trend and Staffordshire Growth Hub
  • Tamworth and Lichfield for Business
  • University of Birmingham Business School

Grand Central Birmingham opens for business

Grand Central opens doors for business

Grand Central Birmingham opened its doors to the public for the first time today, welcoming thousands of customers and diners into the UK’s newest premium shopping and dining destination.

Following a five-year, £150m transformation, Grand Central now sits proudly above the magnificent £600m New Street station and is very much open for business.  Boasting 66 new shops and restaurants with well over half of them never before seen in the city, Grand Central’s opening hits the city during a month that is so packed full of activity is has earned the moniker of  ‘Super September.’

Some of the biggest and best names in shopping have opened at Grand Central, with The White Company, Hobbs, Joules, Foyles, Cath Kidston, Neal’s Yard, and Tiger all coming to the city for the first time.  Add to that a new swathe of upmarket dining outlets. Diners can sample the delights of Tapas Revolution, Pho, Crepe Affaire, Frizzenti and Square Pie, for the first time in Birmingham thanks to Grand Central managing to combine a great mix of retail and dining options offering a wide ranging choice for all tastes and budgets.

The anticipation around Grand Central has been growing with rapid speed over the last 12 months as the centre has taken shape.  Not only has its development changed the architectural horizon of Birmingham due to its high-gloss mirrored exterior snaking its way from Southside to Stephenson Street, but also its sheer impressive size has dominated the cityscape.  At 500,000 square foot, it can comfortably house the 66 retailers and restaurants, as well as one of the biggest John Lewis stores in the UK – a 250,000 sq. ft., four-floored space that comes complete with a spa, its own restaurant, and enough stock to fill the Genting Arena twice over.

The development of Grand Central has created more than 1,000 permanent retail, hospitality, catering and customer service jobs, and is expecting to attract more than 50 million visitors a year. The centre has been brought to life by more than 3,500 construction workers that include builders, electricians, plumbers, shop-fitters, plasterers, as well as everything in between. The build began in 2011 with an initial demolition phase – over 6,000 tonnes of concrete were removed from the Pallasades Shopping Centre to allow the remodelling of what would become Grand Central as well as opening it up to allow the natural light to filter though.   The entire process was an environmentally considerate project, with 98% of the material from the demolished Stephenson Street Tower being recycled for use on other building projects.

A stand out piece of the development is the newly unveiled atrium that overlooks the vibrant bustle of the New Street passenger concourse.   The new concourse is five times the size of London Euston’s and was rebuilt without any interruption to rail services for the 170,000 passengers who use it every day.

Grand Central is a project that combined some major stakeholder partners from across the city, including Birmingham City Council Network Rail, Mace, DTZ, and John Lewis Partnership.

Jonathan Cheetham, centre manager for Grand Central, said: “This has been brought to life through a culmination of a dedicated, committed group from across the city. It’s a proud day for Birmingham and demonstrates our continued retail power to bring these high quality shops and restaurants to the Birmingham consumer, marking another chapter in the on-going renaissance of our great city.”

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The arrival of Grand Central provides even more shopping and dining choice for people in the city centre. With its stainless steel facade wrapping around the entire building, Grand Central makes an impressive impact on Birmingham’s ever improving architectural landscape. The creation of over 1000 jobs in retail, hospitality, catering and customer service also provides a significant number of opportunities for local people.

Richard Brown, Grand Central development director, said: “The years of wait have been well worth it.  Not only is New Street Station a magnificent new development for passengers and commuters, but Grand Central also offers a unique and unforgettable shopping experience for all. We are proud that Birmingham is at forefront of such an impressive aesthetic design which will be enjoyed and admired by people across the UK and worldwide.”

Manufacturing growth showcased at European expo

The first-ever exhibition of local design, manufacturing and innovation has taken flight to the European Parliament in Brussels this week (September 22-24) to showcase the West Midlands’ achievements to European stakeholders.

Hosted by Neena Gill MEP with the support of Birmingham City Council, the Greater Birmingham and West Midlands Brussels office partnership, and key figures such as Commissioner Lord Hill and Chairman Jerzy Buzek, the exhibition demonstrates how organisations from Birmingham and the West Midlands are working with businesses to drive innovation in the manufacturing industry.

Speaking of the exhibition titled Greater Birmingham and the West Midlands: A European home of advanced manufacturing and innovation, Neena Gill MEP said: “I’m proud to be hosting this event to show a European audience what we in the West Midlands produce locally, in order to drive jobs, investment, and growth. We’re building on our well-known industrial strengths, but also presenting a fresh perspective of what innovation and manufacturing means for us in 2015 and beyond through these high tech, innovative displays.

“I’m so pleased to have planned this event alongside friends and colleagues in these important regional institutions, and to be welcoming such high level speakers, as it’s important that other countries recognise our region’s achievements.”

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council commented: “I am delighted that the Greater Birmingham and West Midlands Brussels office partnership is able to profile some of the expertise we have in the fields of product design, advanced manufacturing, and innovation to the European Parliament. The Midlands is a true engine for growth at the heart of the UK and Europe with manufacturing accounting for 13.9 per cent of the region’s output, well above the UK average.”

Keynote speaker, Chairman Jerzy Buzek, commented: “From biotechnology to photonics, and 3D printing, exhibitions like this are important to show how local organisations are contributing to the EU’s 2020 smart and sustainable growth goals.”

Keynote speaker Commissioner Lord Hill said: “The exhibition is not only about celebrating manufacturing and innovation, but looking at how these talents are a bedrock for the region’s economy, growing alongside the region’s swiftly developing financial services sector.”

Exhibitors include; the University of Birmingham, the University of Warwick, Aston University, Birmingham City University (BCU), the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, Birmingham City Council and Climate KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) who are all partners of the Greater Birmingham and West Midlands Brussels office.

The visual centrepiece of the event is BCU’s Birmingham Made Me initiative, showcasing iconic products originating from Birmingham and the West Midlands including Pashley cycles, an AGA Rangemaster door, 3D printed jewellery prototypes from Weston Beamor, ACME whistles, Brooks saddles and a Westfield sports car nose cone.

Get involved with the event on Twitter and see photos via the hashtag #westMIDexpo


For further information please contact:

Hannah Twist
0121 622 2165

Notes to editors:

• Between 2003 and 2013, nearly half of all West Midlands exports by value went to EU countries.
• Almost £400 million of European funding aimed at boosting local businesses is available for the West Midlands – the latest round of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) enables LEPs in the region to distribute the capital to companies on their patches in need of a financial boost to support their growth plans.
• The 2007-2013 round of ERDF created 14,345 jobs across the West Midlands from £324 million of funding.

Neena Gill

• Ms Neena Gill is current Labour Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands, UK. She is full member of the Committee for Economic and Monetary Affairs, and substitute for the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Ms Gill is also First Vice-President to the Delegation for Relations with India, and a member of the Delegation to the US.
• This is Neena’s third term as MEP for the area, having previously served from 1999-2009.
• Prior to becoming an MEP, she was a CEO of two housing organisations. She also graduated in Social Sciences, has a post-graduate professional qualification from the Chartered Institute of Housing, and is an alumnus of the London Business School.

Sir Albert Bore

• Sir Albert Bore is leader of Birmingham City Council
• Committee Membership 2015-2016: Council Business Management Committee, General Assembly of the Local Government Association, West Midlands Joint Committee.

Jerzy Buzek

• Prime Minister of Poland from 1997 – 2001, and has been a Member of the European Parliament since June 2004.
• Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE)
• President of the European Parliament between 2009 – 2012.

Commissioner Lord Jonathan Hill

• A British Conservative politician who since 1 November 2014 serves as a European Commissioner.
• European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union

HSBC to create head office in Birmingham

HSBC to create the head office of ring-fenced bank in Birmingham

•    Around 1,000 roles will relocate to Birmingham
•    Global bank to serve its UK personal and business customers from Birmingham
•    HSBC joins a growing number of international firms locating in the city
•    Move to Arena Central is the largest property deal in Birmingham since 2002

Global bank HSBC has today (Tuesday 24th March) announced that it will be locating the national head office of its ring-fenced bank, which will serve its personal and business customers, in Birmingham city centre.

l-r-Neil-Rami-Antonio-Simoes-Alan-Keir-Sir-Albert-BoreThe move will involve relocating some 1,000 roles currently based in London to Birmingham from mid-2017 onwards. The creation of a ring-fenced bank is in response to the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013 and must be completed before 1 January 2019. HSBC’s decision to create the head office of its UK ring-fenced bank in Birmingham follows a review by the bank of a number of possible head office locations.

Antonio Simoes, Chief Executive Officer of HSBC UK, said: “We have been looking at options for the head office of our ring-fenced bank for some time. It became clear to us that Birmingham would be the right location. The city is close to London, but also brings us within easy reach of our 16 million customers based across the UK. Birmingham is a vibrant, growing city that has the expertise and infrastructure to support our ring-fenced bank and brings us a step closer to our ambition of being the bank of choice in the UK.”

The bank has been supported by Birmingham City Council and inward investment agency Marketing Birmingham – and its employees will continue to be assisted throughout the relocation process.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, commented: “HSBC joins a number of global companies that want to be a part of Birmingham’s accelerating growth and strong economic prospects.

“Birmingham is changing for the better. We are investing heavily in the city’s future, with major projects including the redevelopment of Birmingham New Street station due to complete this year and other transformational schemes now underway. A local network of public and private sector partners are forming entrepreneurial partnerships, sharing ideas and implementing ambitious plans for the future of the city.

“We look forward to welcoming the new head office of HSBC’s ring-fenced bank to Birmingham, and will continue to support and advise the bank as its plans move forward.”

HSBC already has close connections with Birmingham. Midland Bank, which was founded in the city in 1836, was acquired by HSBC in 1992.

HSBC is in advanced negotiations to conclude the acquisition of a 250 year lease on a new office comprising 210,000 sq ft at Arena Central. Arena Central is part of Birmingham’s Enterprise Zone within the city centre. It is the largest property deal to take place in Birmingham since 2002.

Legal documents are expected to be signed in the next few days and a reserved matters application for the new building has been submitted. Development of the site is anticipated to start by June 2015. Birmingham has the best real estate investment prospects in the UK – and is sixth in Europe – according to a report by PwC and the Urban Land Institute*.

Andy Street, Chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP, said: “HSBC’s move to Birmingham will enable the bank to capitalise on all the benefits the city can offer. Supported by the Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone, we are ploughing new funding into the local area to boost its connectivity, skills and infrastructure.

“The economic revival of Greater Birmingham is gathering pace, led by highly valuable industries such as financial services. It underlines the city’s position as a UK business hub and a prime location for professionals building their careers. HSBC’s new head office at a site within Birmingham’s Enterprise Zone will provide a tangible reminder of the scale of investment we are now attracting into the region.”

Greater Birmingham is the UK’s leading centre for financial services outside London. It has the largest business, professional and financial services (BPFS) industry in the country, with more than 21,000 companies employing some 220,000 people in the region. The industry generates £15 billion annually for the local economy.

The firm will be joining a number of other international BPFS companies that have set up a base in Birmingham. German banking giant Deutsche Bank has drastically grown its operations in the city – while US architect Gensler and law firm Hogan Lovells, which is headquartered in London and the US, have also recently located in Birmingham.

Phil Miller, Chief Executive of Miller Developments, added: “HSBC’s commitment to Birmingham is great news for the city and their choice of 2 Arena Central is a tremendous boost for the development. This will enable us to push ahead with realising the full scale of the scheme and deliver HSBC’s requirements and our vision for this key site in the heart of the Enterprise Zone.”

A growing number of businesses are locating in Birmingham. The Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP area attracted a record 77 foreign direct investment projects in 2013/14, the highest on record and more than any other area. Birmingham welcomed more start-ups than any other city in 2014 – a total of 18,000 new companies**.

The city’s thriving business environment is also attracting an influx of young professionals to the city. Some 5,500 Londoners in their thirties moved to Birmingham last year alone – the highest of any regional city – and Birmingham is internationally recognised as having the best of quality of life of any UK city outside London***.


* Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2015
** StartUp Britain
*** Mercer Quality of Living 2015 survey

Notes to editor
Accompanying image: (l-r) Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham; Antonio Simoes, Chief Executive Officer of HSBC UK; Alan Keir, Chief Executive of HSBC Bank plc; and Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council in front of the Arena Central site

For images, interviews and other requests, please contact:

  • Rebecca Bannister, PR Manager, Marketing Birmingham, 0121 202 5112,
  • Tom Marlow, PR Executive, Marketing Birmingham, 0121 202 5088,
  • Rabia Raza, PR Executive, Marketing Birmingham, 0121 202 5002,
  • Siobhan O’Shea, Senior Media Relations Manager at HSBC, / 020 7991 4927 / 07468 704685

Cost and copyright free images of Birmingham can be downloaded on the Birmingham Toolkit. For a press pack about 2015 in Birmingham, please click here.

Marketing Birmingham

Marketing Birmingham, the city’s strategic marketing partnership, operates the city’s leisure and business tourism programme, Visit and Meet Birmingham as well as its inward investment programme, Business Birmingham. The company is funded by the public and private sectors, including Birmingham City Council, European Regional Development Funding and some 400 local companies.

Business Birmingham

Business Birmingham is the city’s official inward investment programme, part of Marketing Birmingham’s destination marketing strategy. Supported by the European Regional Development Fund, through the Investing in the City Region project, Business Birmingham aims to position Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull as leading inward investment locations and major engines of UK growth. For more information, visit Business Birmingham’s website or sign up to its newsletter.

Arena Central

Arena Central is a joint venture between Miller Developments and Pro Vinci Asset Management, comprising a circa £400m development masterplanned for up to 1.5 million sq ft of mixed-use development, comprising offices, hotel, residential, leisure and retail space, car parking and a public square forming the centrepiece of the development. Existing buildings on the site include Alpha Tower and the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The vision for Arena Central is to create a number of ‘oven-ready’ development plots, all of which will be set within an inspirational public realm with a uniquely landscaped pedestrian walkway – designed to echo the urban styles of New York’s High Line, the Promenade Plantee in Paris and London’s own Olympic Park – running through the heart of the scheme.