#whybham From Question to Statement
I think it’s safe to say that Birmingham’s reputation is on the up. The shopping, the style, the culture, the business opportunities… I’m hoping that everyone reading this is already in the ‘Birmingham is awesome’ camp. Thankfully it looks like things are only getting better for the city in 2015
We all stood still in 2012 when news travelled across the Atlantic that New York Magazine had suggested readers visit Birmingham instead of London. Suddenly 1.8million Americans were being told about our legendary culinary offering, and our “big-shouldered, friendly and fun” personality. And we all knew that this was going to send tidal waves across London and Manchester: “How dare Birmingham suddenly have a voice and tell people how great they are?!” The key fact was that it wasn’t us telling people, it was New York Magazine and that’s a whole different story.
NY Magazine was just the first of many. Then came praise from newspapers on home turf; the Independent, the Guardian, The Telegraph and 2013-14 marked a rapid change in how the city was being seen. This was suddenly more than a few column inches – it was the start of a revolution.
Meanwhile, every great Brummie was simply sharing and re-tweeting the positive news stories. Why? Because we all know how great the city is. We didn’t need to suddenly live up to expectations because we were already way better than people thought – it was just a case of making sure people got past Spaghetti Junction and experienced it for themselves.
A key player in the revolution has been Marketing Birmingham and, specifically, Business Birmingham. They used the age-old question of ‘Why Birmingham?’ and turned it into a real opportunity. Business owners across the UK and beyond suddenly saw the city as a place do business. With facts like, ‘the strongest growth in economic output’, ‘more foreign investment than any other UK region’ and ‘fastest growing city’ as some of the key reasons to do business here, the question of ‘Why Birmingham?’ suddenly became a statement, and #whybham started trending.
Beyond the ‘big boys of business’ like RBS and Deutsche Bank opening offices here, what does it mean for the rest of us? Well, simply stand in the city centre and see the cranes and diggers around you; get caught in the Paradise Forum traffic… change is happening, and 2015 is the year when it all begins.
As residents we’ve got so much to look forward to this year.
The New Mailbox
The billboards will be coming down this year as the doors to the brand new Mailbox open. The high end fashion offering is set to be impressive, with a new flagship Harvey Nichols joined by stores like Hugo Boss, Emporio Armani, LK Bennett, Jaeger, and Gieves & Hawkes. In the meantime, we get to sample a few new entertainment brands; Everyman Cinema opened last month and Gas Street Social (formerly Bar Room Bar) opens this month. This £50 million makeover sounds pretty impressive already!
Another retail hub, Great Western Arcade, which is famous for unique retail, is welcoming some fantastic new businesses throughout the year. Keep your eyes peeled!
The £150 million state-of-the-art shopping mall is due to open in the autumn, bringing with it 60 new shops, restaurants and cafes. We’re all desperate to sample the likes of John Lewis, Cath Kidston, L’Occitane, Kiehls and Giraffe. The most exciting for me, is The White Company and now I’ll have a whole store, rather than just a Selfridges concession, to spend my money in. I apologise now, Mr Bank Manager.
Out of the city centre but well worth the 15-minute travelling time, will be the new Resorts World complex at the NEC. Due to open later this year, we can look forward to an outlet shopping centre with 50 stores, a hotel, an Asian-themed spa, a selection of restaurants and bars, a new Cineworld cinema complete with IMAX and 3D screens and a Genting Casino. It looks like the NEC is about to become an all-year-round destination and at least you know that parking won’t be an issue.
NEW FOODIE HOTSPOTS
To complement the shopping, there are also some changes in the city’s food and drink scene. This month sees the opening of The Botanist on Temple Street, a mouthwateringly good cocktail bar that will be perfect for shoppers and workers. Spring time also sees £1 million investment into Summerrow’s entertainment district, with a new-look Mechu. Pushkar, Broad Street’s fantastic Indian restaurant, is getting ready to open a new Edgbaston venture soon. The team behind Lasan will also open a new restaurant at the historic 130 Colmore Row in May.
Sorry if you had plans for 2015, you’d better clear your diary because Birmingham has it all going on. Maybe we’ll get some tourists from London and Manchester too…