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 /

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