With all the current uncertainty over Brexit, many businesses in the UK are experiencing deep disbelief and frustration. Partly because they cannot believe any government would be prepared to play so fast and loose with their interests and voter’s jobs, and partly because the whole process of leaving the EU has put much of the domestic economic agenda effectively on ice until such time as all is resolved.
There are many heads of business, however, who are asking themselves what opportunities there are for regions outside of London. Ultimately, if Westminster is prepared to throw a bomb under the economy, with scant regard for the impact, many business leaders north of the Watford Gap are making the decision to make their own luck, without waiting for the fallout to blow over.
Clearly Brexit is not the only cloud on the horizon, there are other unanswered questions which may dictate the fortunes of the Midlands. For example, what is likely to happen to large capital projects such as HS2? And if HS2 does not continue, will this provide much needed investment into regional transport projects?
In this article we will look in particular at what exciting opportunities might be on the horizon for the Midlands region, and how business leaders can leverage these by applying the latest thinking in sales and marketing.
The Signs of Opportunity
You don’t have to look far to see some buds of opportunity away from the South. In KPMG’s latest economic outlook report, entitled, ‘Moderate, occasionally rough. Visibility poor: UK Economic Outlook’, Chief Economist Yael Selfin states, “the disparity between North and South highlights the huge untapped potential outside the South East. And making the most of new technology to share future growth dividends more widely among the UK population will help create a more inclusive society”. The report also points to positive wage growth in the East Midlands, and house price growth in the Midlands as a whole (an average of 2.15% increase in 2019) that is highly likely to exceed that of London (-0.7% in 2019), and the South East (0.6% in 2019).
The Midlands Engine, a coalition of Councils, Combined Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP), Universities and businesses, which aims to boost the economy in the Midlands, has a stated vision to grow the regional economy by £54b by 2030. They aim to achieve this by using new technology to transform the transport network, ensuring the skills necessary for businesses are available, encouraging trade and investment, increasing innovation, and promoting the region as a whole to encourage people to live, work, study, and visit.
Some of the other specific indicators that the Midlands may be primed for success include:
- Derby was the third fastest growing city economy in the UK across Q3 2017, with the rate of 1.9% behind only Aberdeen and Cambridge according to the UK Powerhouse study produced by Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr)
- Leicester was named the second-best city in the UK in which to start a business. Coventry ranked third according to Barclays’ SME Growth Factors Index.
- EY’s Regional Economic Forecast shows the fastest growing regions of the UK with the highest growth forecast per year up to 2021 are: London (2.1%), the West Midlands (1.7%) and the South East (1.7%).
- Large construction projects such as: a new Jaguar Land Rover manufacturing facility will be built in Nuneaton at a cost of £150m and creating 1,000 new jobs, and the redevelopment of Wolverhampton city centre at a cost of £150m.
- Many high-profile companies are relocating to the region including HSBC, Lombard Risk Management plc, and Deutsche Bank. Channel 4 may also be making the move.
There are many other reasons for selecting the Midlands as a place to launch a start-up or to move an organisation’s headquarters to, not least the transport network, its position at the centre of the UK, and the six Michelin restaurants within one hour of Birmingham centre. In addition, Birmingham will be hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
With the current level of interest and investment in Birmingham, and the Midlands, it is easy to envisage how the region could become a dominant force in the technology driven services sector, especially in the areas of fintech, medtech, gaming, advanced engineering technology, auto-tech, transport tech, cyber security, and driverless vehicles. For example, Coach operator National Express is now working with Innovation Birmingham (which comprises over 170 digital technology businesses) to launch ‘NXIS’ (a business incubator). The idea is to provide budding tech companies with access to business experts and facilities to grow their enterprises.
Capitalising on the opportunities
For business leaders, the challenge now is how to capitalise on opportunities in the Midlands. How can prospective clients be encouraged to spend and invest their money outside of the capital? And equally, how can Midlands based enterprises demonstrate superior levels of customer service and quality?
Firstly, in our view, it is important to remember that a company is only as good as its people. By setting up shop in the Midlands, it stands to reason that employees will benefit from a higher quality of life than they might enjoy in London. They will be able to buy homes which are affordable and within relatively easy commuting distance. And staff that are contented and able to achieve a real work-life balance are more likely to bring their ‘A’ game to work, including higher levels of creativity, passion, and enthusiasm. This will directly lead to greater customer satisfaction and service.
Secondly, Midlands based businesses are truly at the centre of the UK – able to reach the whole country more easily. As such this means an improved potential to meet customers face to face during the sales phase, account management, and when providing onsite support.
If you are a business leader already in, or thinking of relocating to Birmingham, the West Midlands, and the East Midlands, there are many reasons to be optimistic about future business performance and growth. Having chosen you location and product or service offering, it is then essential to develop a business strategy which will allow you to reach your prospective clients and generate robust sales. At Reach Revenue, we have helped many businesses located in Birmingham and the Midlands to achieve sales success. Let us show you how.
Reach Revenue works with business owners, leaders and investors to develop high performing sales and marketing teams aligned to the strategic objectives of their business. To find out how we can help you, please call 0203 858 8030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org