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.”

ENDS

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

Christie Galloway on 0121 200 0910 /c.galloway@bcguk.com

Birmingham – our city transformed

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, reflects on the renaissance of Birmingham and what it means for the future of the city.

Birmingham has just seen two major milestones in the ongoing transformation of the city, with the opening of New Street station and Grand Central. But when talking about transformation, ‘ongoing’ is the key word. Now that we’ve reached these milestones we aren’t stopping. There is so much more going on in Birmingham.

This weekend has shown again how brilliantly the city can stage major events and play host to people from around the world. We’ve done it before – Euro ‘96, Eurovision and G8 Summit (1998), Papal Visit (2010), hosting the Jamaica and US track and field Olympic teams (2012), to name but a few.

And how wonderful this weekend to see the streets around Villa Park – and throughout the city – thronged with rugby fans from all corners of the globe, joining in with locals and visitors from around the country.

Many of them will have seen the regeneration work going on around the city, including the transformation of the Paradise area which will open up the city centre, particularly between Victoria Square and Centenary Square.

Next month will also see the adoption of the Snow Hill master plan and the contract signed that will see the wholesale markets move to a specially designed site in Witton. The £600m master plan will see the business district, around Colmore Row, transformed and win further investment from global business, particularly from the professional and financial services sectors, in an effort to emulate the success of London’s Canary Wharf and create thousands of jobs. We have already seen HSBC commit to move its HQ to Birmingham and I expect many more firms to follow, along with the young families already leaving London for a better quality of life.

They are finding it here in Birmingham.

Twenty-odd years ago, Birmingham was a very different place to the city it is today, there just wasn’t that much going on in the city centre and you would struggle to know where to take visitors, whether that be in terms of restaurants – now we have five with Michelin stars (congratulations Carters of Moseley!) – or attractions.

So, back then, we needed to look at just what Birmingham could offer and to bring in investment. It was about re-balancing the economy and not being dependent on one sector i.e. manufacturing. We started with the city centre because it is generally the first experience people have, and set about making it an attractive place to work, visit and live, which in turn brought in further investment.

In what is a relatively short period of time, since the mid 1990s, we have seen the ICC, Symphony Hall, Mailbox, Brindley Place and the Library of Birmingham all regenerate and rejuvenate the city.

And don’t forget, HS2 is coming down the track, with all the development, investment, skills and jobs that will attract around Eastside/Curzon Street and across Birmingham as a whole.

Birmingham folk are rightly very proud of their city, and should be, particularly after the week we have just had and we must all hold on tight to that pride. But we can’t just be inwardly proud, we have to all talk our city up and sell the place on a much bigger scale.

The transformation of New Street station and opening of Grand Central, plus the amazing arts and sports events of this weekend, has really showcased just what we have to offer. We now have a retail offer that most cities simply can’t provide and a railway station that people will want to come to and through, that will let them know they have arrived at a vibrant city.

There is still some way to go but the events of the last week or so give us added momentum and all these things we have achieved not only in the last few days and months but also in previous years, reaching this point, are all components in the ongoing renaissance and story of our great city.

We can all hold our heads up high and be proud of what we have become, and continue to move ‘Forward’ – fulfilling the motto of Birmingham.

Video courtesy of Big Centre TV.

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.”