London Slowdown May Mean Growing Opportunities For Us

Column Mastheads and Credit Box.indd
Colin Sinclair is Director of Workspace at Bruntwood. Having managed bands on international record labels he now leads the Liverpool office of one of the UK’s largest property firms @colindsinclair
THE economic outlook for the UK remains cautious, with the Chancellor recently identifying a cocktail of risks including low commodity prices, tensions in the middle east and the slowdown in China. RBS has warned of a “cataclysmic year”, with a fall in stocks and oil predicted. At the same time that analysts are warning about the risks ahead they are saying that London is becoming too expensive.  The need to cut costs in London could be good news for the likes of Leeds and Manchester and could, if the local conditions become right, be a positive for Liverpool too. Liverpool is one of the cheapest UK city regions and part of the Northern Powerhouse push so it could benefit from any new Northshoring. Starved of major inward investment for over a decade the city is working to reposition itself as a global business location, with a new devolution package and an elected city region mayor. Furthermore, as property prices continue to rise in Manchester then Liverpool looks even cheaper by comparison. Both cities share a similar labour pool. Liverpool has international connectivity by air through Manchester Airport and to a lesser extent Liverpool John Lennon, both within 45 minutes. Like Manchester, Liverpool is only 2 hours by train from London. Liverpool can boast two of Europe’s top 50 research Universities and plans for a new Knowledge Quarter, linking Lime Street Station to the Universities and new hospitals are finally happening. London’s loss could be Liverpool’s gain… This year will again see Liverpool in the spotlight for all manner of positive reasons. Not least we have the return of the International Festival for Business, which will bring hundreds of senior representatives from global businesses into the city region during the summer, offering an unparalleled chance to show the world what we are all about and where we want to go. Indeed, we won’t be short of visitors all year-round, with the newly-opened Exhibition Centre starting to flex its muscles, Liverpool FC completing its stadium expansion and a clutch of exciting hotel and residential projects combining to welcome even greater numbers to the city than ever before.  Bowie, the Star Man of business
Credit: Mark Jeremy
Credit: Mark Jeremy
IN January, the world lost one of its most talented and pioneering musicians of all time. The eulogies and plaudits that have flowed since the death of David Bowie have been nothing short of incredible and they reflect the immense impact he had on people across several generations all over the world. The sentiment is also incredibly justified and, whether you were a fan of his music or not, there can be little doubt that he was a special individual. His musicality, costumes, stage personae and love of the arts are well known, but what many people may not appreciate is his talent as an entrepreneur. Always one step ahead of the game, Bowie launched his own internet provider, Bowie.com, a radio station and even his own online bank, Bowiebanc, in 1999. He predicted that music would go online and that downloads would outstrip vinyl… In addition, he came up with a completely new investment vehicle called Bowie Bonds to generate cash from his extensive back catalogue. The scheme involved selling securities to investors, who in turn received a share in future royalties for 10 years. The securities were ultimately bought by a major US insurance firm. Perhaps his commercial success shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. He regularly demonstrated key entrepreneurial characteristics such as individuality, single-mindedness, strength of character and a willingness to take unexpected changes of direction. His financial innovation reportedly amassed him a £135m fortune and means he has been able to leave a sizeable legacy for his family. His spiritual legacy is, of course, immeasurable and the world will be a poorer place without him. Innovative firms will leave workers standing THE working environment for many businesses is changing at an incredible rate and I think plenty of office workers in particular will witness major changes during 2016, with a host of new trends set to leave a lasting impression on their workplaces for years to come. Innovations such as standing desks, which allow people to spend part of their day perfectly upright simply by raising their desk at the turn of a handle, and the introduction of “thought zones” and Skype kiosks to neutralise the lost privacy of open plan offices, will see the physical working environment change almost overnight. This year is likely to see that trend boom as hundreds more forward-thinking businesses begin to offer free or subsidised classes to their employees. Practices such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness swelled in popularity in 2015 as businesses recognised their ability to genuinely change people’s lives and help them achieve their goals, thereby delivering happier, more balanced employees. Music at work is another previous no-no that is now enjoying a surge in popularity. Instead of a crackly old wireless in the corner of the room, more and more workplaces can expect to see a rise in hand-picked mood music streamed via wi-fi and aimed at improving staff morale and productivity. Meanwhile, various ongoing major projects like Liverpool Two deep water container terminal and the new six-lane Mersey super bridge should convince inward investors that we have a serious, credible strategy for long-term business growth and job creation, linked to world class transport infrastructure. Devolution and the Northern Powerhouse are likely to remain high on the regional news and political agenda this year as the combined authority sets about exercising its increased autonomy away from Westminster while seeking to strengthen our ties with northern neighbours. I’d also hope to see the increased use of Liverpool as our attack brand rather than the less well-known internationally name of Merseyside. Barking mad? Barking2016 could be the Year of the Dog as far as working practices are concerned. Building owners and businesses have begun to relax their rules around pets in the workplace, meaning dog-lovers will now be able to bring their favourite pooch into the office without fear of being collared. (Sorry!). Tell us at Good News if you’d like to take your dog to work…