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Why Global Businesses Are Choosing Birmingham

You can’t talk about Birmingham’s explosive rise without talking about the strength of its commercial sector. As the second city experiences huge amounts of investment, regeneration and redevelopment, the commercial sector has grown alongside it, attracting global businesses such as HSBC, Deutsche Bank and PwC.

This concept of decentralisation – moving large sections of a business to other locations – isn’t just occurring in the UK either. It’s a global trend.

Take Citilife, which has recently moved offices from central Hong Kong to Kowloon East, describing the move as similar to moving from central London to Canary Wharf or, more commonly in the UK market, moving from London to a regional core further north such as Birmingham.

“This is comparable to London, there are many banks that have moved away from the traditional centre of London, and moved to Canary Wharf, said Weber Lo, the Hong Kong head of Citi.

“Moving away from Central to Kowloon, which is our own property, not only reduces the cost but more importantly, allows us to consolidate our five offices into two, housing all our staff under two roofs… enhancing communication, operational efficiency and morale”.

The advancement of technology, as well as changes to residential markets, means businesses can now afford to be more discerning in where they base their headquarters. While banks such as Citi can now move away from Central Hong Kong, UK businesses that were previously tied to London can now look to regional cores such as Birmingham or rising Commuter Town locations such as Slough.

The advantages of decentralisation are often focused around the increased affordability these new locations can provide as well as increased coverage and communication between teams.

For HSBC, moving the UK personal and business bank to Birmingham made the most sense. The business has nearly 16 million customers across the country and a huge network of branches filled with employees.

Thanks to Birmingham’s central location at the heart of the UK, HSBC are in the ideal position to better engage with its network of employees and customers. Leasing nearly 210,000 sq ft in the brand new Arena development, HSBC’s acquisition is expected to boost Birmingham’s economy by £120 million and will increase operational efficiency business-wide.

Similarly, PwC has also announced they will occupy the entire first building of the £700 million Paradise scheme, a move that will take up 150,000 sq ft and comprise a 1,400 strong team with room to expand by a further 1,000.

This follows on from Deutsche Bank, who started a similar process, moving into Birmingham in 2014, setting up headquarters in Brindleyplace. Deutsche Bank wanted a presence in the city after growing its Birmingham team to around 1,000.

The unprecedented growth that the city is experiencing is only serving to facilitate these types of moves. With the largest business, financial and professional services sector in the UK outside of London as well as increased affordability and fantastic amenities, it’s becoming increasingly popular to consider Birmingham as a base.

Evidence of this is clear in Birmingham’s winning bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games and trial the new 5G mobile network, both huge events and indicators of Birmingham’s infrastructural strength, economic success and global appeal

As a young, diverse city with more than 40% of the city 25 and under, Birmingham is seizing the opportunity to put itself in the spotlight, using the momentum of inwards investment to drive opportunities and attract new business.

For investors, this represents the opportunity to take advantage of a solid base of professional tenants who are looking for prime city-centre living – especially in a regional core as popular as Birmingham.

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