Tag Archives: Cannes

The ‘bubble’ of MIPIM

My blogs been quiet for a while. I’ve been really busy with various new projects, both in our Residential and Student Living sectors. Our Student Living port-folio is growing rapidly now with live projects in London and Oxford at present. Other schemes in Coventry, Sheffield, Brighton and Nottingham are in the pipeline and well developed. I’ve also been developing a new strategy in terms of our ‘New Business’ work (Marketing and Business Development). It’s been a pretty positive journey over the last twelve months.

Last week I was over in Cannes for the annual MIPIM conference. This was my fourth consecutive year and I was joined by Board Director Jason Ainsworth, who hadn’t been before.

It’s been interesting seeing the atmosphere change at MIPIM over recent years. This year was electric; there is no doubt that the property market is booming in the UK and confidence is high at present. Of the 22,000 delegates this year, over 5000 were from the UK.

Palais Des Festivals Cannes

We attended a wide range of events and meetings across the week. From these we have a lot of new contacts and opportunities to pursue. We met some great new people, and saw many known contacts too which was equally useful in terms of catching up. Business is all about people and relationships. MIPIM is the perfect platform to meet people and develop relationships that last.

People who haven’t been to MIPIM are still quick to mock it with comments like; “did you enjoy your week in the sun…while we were all working“. I guess you’ll never really understand it unless you experience it.

MIPIM is a whole week of constant networking. That involves eating nice food and drinking coffee, wine and champagne in the sun. The location and environment creates a unique, relaxed atmosphere where people talk more openly than they would do in the relative formality of day-to-day business.

Where else could you meet with Central Government representatives, chief executives of local authorities and Housing Associations, CEO’s/ Chairs of major Development and Construction companies, leading sector property agents, the full spectrum of property related consultants and many more people in between. MIPIM is totally unique.

NLA London ModelThe new NLA London model was unveiled in the London Pavilion.

But MIPIM is intense and tiring. It takes a certain sort of person to be able to do it and you need to be thinking all the time about how you and your company can relate to the people and opportunities you are discussing. You also have to remember a lot and make sure you record what’s been discussed to follow up on. You need to be on top of your game; inside knowledge and contacts are what you need to have.

It also involves being on your feet all week! I have a Jawbone activity tracker. Last week I walked 55 miles and had an average of 5 hours sleep each night. That’s no holiday!

In terms of investment, is it worth it? In my view; Yes. If you host a table of 10 at a property dinner in the UK, you’d pay £1500-2000, for around 3-4 hours of networking. MIPIM is a full week of this and significantly cheaper to be at by comparison. I was invited to a breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday + other events and meetings in between.

The end of last week was a real highlight for me as we were invited to a private BBQ at Tom Bloxham’s Maison Bulle (Bubble House) in the mountains.

A few years ago I met Tom Bloxham from Urban Splash at MIPIM. I knew any business relationship with Tom would take a while to develop and I’d need to do something significant to attract any attention from him. In the second half of 2014 I had various meetings with Tom and introduced him to some of our developer and investor clients who I thought could work with Urban Splash. This has been a really positive process, with a unique and very real opportunity currently emerging from this dialogue. It’s been good to get to know Tom and gain an insight into the incredible Urban Splash story (which Tom tells very well!).

Back to the house; Antii Lovag was the creator the the Bubble House concept; it’s a series of interconnecting concrete dome structures, with circular punctures creating doors and windows. Other than the floor, there are very few flat surfaces in the house. The house also fuses with the rugged rocky landscape. Large rocks puncture the house internally and externally, so the ultra modern smooth domes wrap around the surface of the mountain and contrast with the rough texture of the rocks, both are the same colour. Water is present throughout too; internally the main dome has a water feature/ pool with bridges over it. Externally a large infinity swimming pool and an even larger cold water lake surround the house.

One of Lovag’s more commonly known houses was built for the French Fashion designer Pierre Cardin (see image below), but Toms house is where is all began and indeed where Lovag lived (in a small domed annex house in the grounds) until he passed away last year.

Maison Bulle Teoule-sur-Mer

Toms house in France is shrouded in secrecy. Very few photos are in the public domain and Tom rightly wants to keep it that way (so no photos here I’m afraid). The house was incomplete when Tom bought it. Over the years he has completed the house, working with Lovag, but also making his own mark from his Urban Splash experiences. The building seems to stay true to the spirit of the original designs, but has a contemporary twist in places. It also has an Urban Splash feel. It’s a hugely successful synergy.

The house was an incredible experience. I’ve never seen anything like it and it inspired me as an Architect. It’s is proof that anything is possible (or “Tout est Possible” as Lovag would say).

So back to Blighty. It was cold and slightly foggy as I headed back into London today. There are lots of follow-up’s to do now from last week – and that is the really important bit in terms of getting real value from MIPIM.

The MIPIM bubble has burst for another year, but the work from it will continue for sometime…

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mipim UK

Last week saw the launch of mipim UK in London. Whilst the organisers and name of the event may be consistent with the annual property pilgrimage to Cannes in the south of France, the event in London was actually very different. Initially I was very negative about it on Wednesday, but the event grew on me through the week.

I’ve talked lots on this blog about what defines mipim in Cannes and how unique it is in terms of an annual event of value to the property market. The UK event was really more of an Expo; a collection of stands which varied from Local Authorities, Developers, Investors, Law firms and the odd Consultant. It was really a show of the regions and everyone was ‘open for business’ (?). Unlike Cannes, the action/ events outside of the conference seemed very limited. I guess a large proportion of delegates were London based so would have been visiting the event, rather than basing themselves there. I also read that 80% of delegates were mipim first timers.

Getting into the conference proved a challenge on the first day as a public protest blocked the entrance to Olympia and even involved mud being thrown, literally. See the Guardian piece on it here.

The talks (well, the ones I could actually get into!) were focused on; a) the seemingly infinite expansion on London fueled of course by foreign investment, and b) The future of our regional cities. The exhibitor presence seemed to major more on the regional cities than London. One key observation was that Manchester and Liverpool shared a stand; promoting a collaborative presence, rather than competing. It seems that George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse idea has gained much momentum and support already.

Key themes which emerged from the event were;

  • Supporting devolution of power from Central Government to the Regions.
  • The long term impact of overseas Investment on the UK property market.
  • How to promote the regional economies, with HS2+3 being hailed as the answer to all.

Nottingham had a ‘proper’ presence at this event which was good. They had a brand new stand in a prime location – this was much better than the rather generic “D2N2” version used at mipim in Cannes.

On Friday I attended an interesting talk on Tall Buildings in the UK. On the panel was president elect of the RIBA Jane Duncan. One of her key messages at the moment is to promote the importance of having the best quality Planning officers within our UK Local Authorities.

We’ve been facing a few frustrations in recent months on new projects, as LA’s were quick to cut back their Planning Departments in the recession and now they are feeling the strain. The positive outcome of new buildings is heavily influenced by the Planning Process and to be quite honest our system is still pretty weak it seems to me, particularly with the new pre-application process. The key issue is that LA’s don’t see Planning as ‘income generating’ (?!). Rees Peter Wynne, who is a Professor of Places and City Planning, at UCL suggested that if we want to take Planning seriously in the future, they should teach more about it a Eton College as that’s where our future leaders seem to emerge from.

So was it worth it? I think so. I saw a good number of people I know, including clients who I spent time with. I also made a number of new connections which was useful and will hopefully lead to new opportunities.

Mipim of course is not about instant results – it’s all part of a rich organic web of profile raising and relationship development which, if managed properly, will lead to new work down the line.

IMG_1054.JPG

What makes MIPIM unique?

It’s hard to believe that another year has passed by since I was last in Cannes for MIPIM; The international property conference. It’s a big event attracting around 25,000 delegates from around the world. The theme of course is Property Development and people from every area of the sector come along to network and seek deals and opportunities. High profile attendees this year include; Boris Johnson, The Candy brothers and ex-Manchester United player Gary Neville, who will be talking about his development company.

mipim25Two very common questions I often get asked…

What is so special about MIPIM?
Why go to Cannes to meet people from the UK?

If you’ve not been, it’s perhaps easy to imagine that this is a jolly. It’s certainly set in a stunning location where the sun is shining and there is a lot of money floating around; expensive hotels and restaurants, big boats and fast cars. But, being here in my third year now, I can tell you that it’s hard work. People are here for a good reason; to do business. I have over 30 appointments in my diary over the next 3 days. I will be up and out by around 7am and back again after midnight. It’s a marathon. My intention is simple; to return with as many contacts and leads as possible.

The entire MIPIM event is unique. The environment sets the scene for a very different mindset. People, generally representing the top of their respective organisations, are away from their day-to-day working routines. There are no boardroom formalities and people aren’t thinking about a hundred other things. Generally people are here to focus on the job in hand. Therefore you can connect with people so much more easily – and they are much more receptive to talking. This is what makes MIPIM special.

I’m representing my new company WCEC this year, in only my second week with the company! We have some great experience and current projects to talk about this week. Our company has been built up through our long standing partnerships with Morrisons and Asda. This has enabled us to build a strong port-folio of town centre regeneration, supermarkets, convenience stores, mixed-use regeneration and also logistics/ industrial, to name just a few. Beyond that our recent work has included hotels, leisure and residential.

Residential has been a big growth area for the business in recent years. Our teams are currently working on a number of high-profile urban developments in London and the South East. Our signature project at present is Royal Wharf in the Docklands, the first phase of which is worth £250m. We have also built up a team delivering Permitted Development projects for Office to Residential conversions.

Delivering all of the above, is a focused and diverse team of around 120 staff offering a broad range of group services. A key one at present being BIM (Building Information Modelling). We have been actively involved in BIM for around 8 years now – there’s probably not that many architects who can say that! Until last week my knowledge of BIM was pretty limited. It strikes me that there is a lot of ‘talk’ about BIM, but a lot of people probably don’t understand it and are certainly not well placed to effectively deliver it. I am in no doubt; BIM is the future to delivering buildings and running them for their lifetime. WCEC are delivering projects for all our clients in BIM, using Revit and a number of other programmes. We believe we have developed a real expertise in BIM, so we have a separate consultancy which provides services to the wider construction sector. This is in big demand at present.

Whilst I’m over here, in between my meetings, I’ll be seeking an overview of the property markets. What’s the forecast? Is London really over heating? Are the regions coming back? I’ll be spending time at the London, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Leeds stands. I’ll also be seeing my good friends and acquaintances at “Team Talented Nottingham” to learn more about Nottingham and the East Midlands plans. You can see the brand new Invest in Nottingham website here. They also have a MIPIM specific website here.

Royal WharfI’ll be blogging a bit more through the week, as and when I get a few moments…?