John Lewis boss talks about "the Midlands Engine" and why Birmingham is the next major economic hub

Kasmira Jefford
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General Views Of The Revamped New Street Station In Birmingham
Birmingham's recently refurbished stations mark the beginning of the city's redevelopment (Source: Getty)

John Lewis boss Andy Street says Brum is booming, as he talks up the city in Cannes.

Andy Street may be better known as managing director of one of the UK's biggest department stores John Lewis, but the Brummie born and bred was in Cannes donning a different cap today, promoting his home town as chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Commenting on why he decided to take up the role in 2011, Street said:

I wanted to do it because my home city has not had a particularly successful period economically, but I saw huge opportunity so working with some great people in Brum, I have really enjoyed helping to to deliver what is now a really changed situation.

The city has been rapidly growing in importance as an economic hub, marked by HSBC's decision last summer to relocate its personal and business arms from the capital - with new headquarters now being built - and recent major investments from overseas funds and developers keen to play a part in Birmingham's growth story.

In the last two months, Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) has snapped up stakes in both the so-called Paradise £1bn regeneration scheme in Birmingham's city centre and the newly launched Grand Central shopping centre above New Street station, which it now jointly owns with Hammerson.

In total, over £1bn was invested into Birmingham alone last year. It is now keen it attract further investment and has teamed up with 10 other LEPs in the Midlands to win £14bn of funding from key markets such as the US and China.

The plan, dubbed the "Midlands Engine" initiative, was launched at MIPIM today with UKTI showcasing 33 investment opportunities, which combined they claim can create 178,000 jobs, 32,000 new homes and 57.9m square feet of property space for the region.

Street said: “The Midlands is undergoing a remarkable economic resurgence, underpinned by the talent, infrastructure and support that the region offers to businesses large and small. Launching the Midlands Engine Pitchbook demonstrates how the region has developed a coordinated approach to targeting new investment; by working together, we have a stronger voice and more compelling story to tell the world.

"By showcasing our strongest investment opportunities – from HS2 to major residential schemes and Enterprise Zone sites – to key markets such as China, Europe and the USA, I have no doubt that the Pitchbook will help to stimulate even more international interest in the Midlands.”

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